Tuesday, May 18, 2010


In case you missed it, Pennsylvania Democratic senatorial candidate Richard E. Blumenthal, currently that great state's attorney general, is taking "full responsiblity" for stating that he had "served in Vietnam" when it turns out he actually never went there to fight for his country against the rising tide of the Yellow Peril. Mr.Blumenthal received deferments between 1965 and 1970, worked in the Nixon White House and 'served' in the Marine Corps Reserve.

I love the way that word is used: 'served'. You can get away with almost anything by saying you 'served'. John McCain likes to say he's 'served' as the senator for Arizona all these years. I suspect the more gratifying part of the job for people like him is that they get served- expensive, juicy filet mignons at top flight hotels all across this fine land. Is being in service to others really the reason for these politicans' constant battle for re-election? Call me crazy, but... might there be a little thirst for power and status thrown in there too? Another group that 'serves' a lot is the police force. Really?? I had no idea. While helping people does make most of us feel good, I'm thinking that gun and the shiny badge might be an attraction for people too. After all, if all these guys are so desperate to serve the rest of us, they could easily have become soup kitchen workers. Or volunteer garbage men. Or.. waiters! Yes, waiters! After all, by jove, they really do serve! For a living, as well!

Which brings me back to our friendly Pennsylvania attorney general. If he had been a little lighter on his feet, he would have sent out a press release stating something close to this:

"People of Pennsylvania. It has come to my attention that some people think I lied about serving in Vietnam. I must correct the record: I did say I served in Nam. I just didn't say when or how. I actually answered an ad in the newspaper one spring day in 1982. They were looking for fit, handsome American waiters for a new fast food restaurant opening up in downtown Ho Chi Minh by the name of Gi Ruk Du, which means Cheap, Shitty, Western Imperialist Cardboard That Makes You Fat And Sad in Vietnamese. It was a wonderful experience- we opened up a whole new vista for the Vietnamese, turning many of the little critters bald and flabby with a vast selection of chemically processed cow manure we called Hamburgers. I did a tour of eight months there before returning home a hero. I hope this settles the matter."

If only Blumey had called me. I could have ended this thing. Now it's likely he's finished. You can talk a lot of baloney to the American electorate but one area that is absolutely untouchable is the subject of military service. John McCain could be photographed with his pants down in an elementary school toilet wacking off to an Archie comic but don't you dare call him a bad man... the man is a war hero, dammit! So he likes graphic novels and the innocent, pristine feel of a children's bathroom. Big deal.

This story reminds me of the many times in my life that I've fabricated, embellished, hyperbolised, prevaricated, fudged, misrepresented....

okay. Lied.

We've all been guilty of it, at least those of us with an ego, which I think is anyone over the age of 2 (Ted Koppel excluded- no one with an ego would ever leave the house with that hair). How many times have I knowingly added little nuggets to my stories to make myself look funnier, more successful, better in bed, sexier? Every goddamn day, people.  Don't believe a thing I say- or, more accurately, believe what I say and then reduce it by about half. Alright, maybe I'm being a little harsh, but you get the gist. I'm certain you do, because you do it too. This blog comes out of Los Angeles, so you won't be surprised when I tell you that I meet a lot of famous actors who I've never heard of that end up being the guy that does my dry cleaning. Wait a sec- that was me. After all, although we all have pumped a little extra juice into our stories from time to time in order to impress, there is a spectrum here, and some of us poor souls just run right off the edge.

They're easy to spot. And even easier to rob. Why? Well, just ask them to meet for coffee to "catch up". Those two words are the first sign for them that they're going to have the opportunity to talk about themselves and just possibly walk away from the rendez vous feeling just a smidge better about themselves and twice as important. A dictionary definition of the word conversation that I found is: "an oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions or ideas."

 There's the rub. This brand of person missed the "exchange" part of it. Their definition would probably be something closer to:

"I talk without breathing for ninety minutes, setting a new world record, checking my IPhone once every three minutes. At the end of said time period, I say I have to get to 'a meeting' and leave by way of a bro-hug."

Ladies, insert whatever fake, physically frigid farewell you might indulge in. I haven't done the requisite research. But to the point: if you're especially masochistic, you can stretch that ninety minutes into three hours, without any mention from your 'friend' about a meeting at all. How? Just continue to ask them questions about their lives. Yes, I know, for most of us, an endless stream of questions would make us begin to feel that the conversation was getting a little one-sided. Most of us regular folks actually take an interest in the lives of others. But you won't have to worry about that with our hero- just keep him talking about himself and you can very calmly gimmy open his door with your favorite Amex card and just clean the joint out. Leave him his headshots and demo reels. He won't even notice anything else is missing.

Why is it so easy to fall back into the trap of self-aggrandisement? In what grade do we learn all about that at school? How is it that we so sneakily tranform from naked toddlers who are perfectly happy to play in a warm, urine-filled portable swimming pool to slick shysters who aren't content unless we're peddling our cheap wares at cocktail parties? Since when was it a crime to just be ourselves, with no attributes, achievements or associations anywhere in sight?

Luckily, for all of us, freedom awaits. The pain and humiliation of having our pants pulled down can only occur when we've lied about what's in those pants to begin with. In the act of selling ourselves we are actually setting ourselves up for suffering. Better to just let who we are and what we do speak for itself. Some of us spend many anxious years being terrified that the rest of the world will discover that we're an 'impostor'. When you want people to think you're a war hero when the most dangerous weapon you've used in your life is a squirt gun, and then you go ahead and lie about it, you're probably headed for trouble.

I'm going back to basics. Tell the truth. And get back in the pool. 

Picture: Richard Blumenthal... toast.

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