Reading Between the Lies

If you’re smart, you believe half of what you hear. Brilliant is when you know which half.
Robert Orben

In my younger years I had a friend who was a great storyteller. He spun stories of his various adventures in travel, career and financial success and seducing women. His stories enthralled many a stranger or new acquaintance. My friend’s tales were entertaining and always showed him in a positive light. The sad part was that my friend was starting to believe in his stories. He could not differentiate between truth and fiction. He believed in his lies.

Lies and exaggerations are the verbal currencies of politics, business, advertising, culture and social media. The more outrageous and fanciful the lie or exaggeration, the more likely it is to spread and to be believed. Indeed, in politics, many campaigns spin fake news in order to stoke contributions and support.

Followers of professional wrestling are labeled as “marks.” Marks totally buy into the character branding of the wrestlers, the contrived storylines and rivalries and that the match results are not scripted. They have not understood that pro wrestling is entertainment, not sport. Great athletes performing choreographed feats of strength, agility, strikes and body slams.

Politics also has “marks.” They are known as “Trumpsters.” Donald Trump has worked with World Wrestling Entertainment in the past. He has participated in a Wrestlemania storyline and his casinos sponsored Wrestlemania events in the past. One of Trump’s Cabinet appointments was Linda McMahon who along with her husband Vince owned the WWE. January 6, 2021 was Trump’s political version of Wrestlemania. Trump promoted the event and his “marks” thought that they could overturn the results of a fair election process. Just like a “battle royale,” Trump’s followers battled Capitol police and even used not so hidden foreign objects just like “heel” wrestlers do to cheat in their matches.

George Washington purportedly said in his youth, “Father, I cannot tell a lie.” There is very little evidence that Washington ever said those words. It’s part of the myth around our first president. Sadly, no modern day politician could ever say that phrase with a straight face.

I have picked on politicians and their lies. However the business world is replete with lies, exaggerations and spin. One cannot trust the accuracy and integrity of quarterly corporate results, CEO guidance, product and service capabilities, mission statements and denials of corruption, regulatory malfeasance, sexual harassment and mismanagement.

Photo by Joshua Miranda:

Sturm und Drang

Words that never were true
Spoken to help nobody but you
Words with lies inside
But small enough to hide
‘Til your playin’ was through
Words The Monkees

Lately I feel like I resemble this remark by the satirist Mort Sahl: “a very likable guy who makes ex-friends easily.”

(8/10/2021: Text conversation between S and I on her invite for me to join a birthday party for two members in a private pickleball group called Kilmer)

(About an hour later, I receive this text…)

S: Hey Eric, I see you haven’t joined Kilmer yet. We are celebrating Pete’s birthday and Dave’s on Wednesday if interested in joining.

Me: I will stop by and I will bring some snacks for the party. Thanks again for the invite and I’ll see you tomorrow night. I was thinking about soft pretzels and some chocolates. But I will defer to you if I should bring something else.

S:That’s perfect! Very sweet of you. Don’t bring too much. It’s your first time coming and you are also our guest.

(Minutes later, I receive this text from S, rescinding the invitation)

S: Hi Eric, I circumvented our system and didn’t check first with everyone which is our usual policy. Pls hold off. I’m sorry.

(Since I was “disinvited,” I tried to handle this as gracefully as I could. I felt bad for S. I knew she wasn’t behind the disinvite.)

Me: Thanks again for the invitation to join. But I am going to take my name off the list. I sense that there could be an “issue“ and I do not wish to upset the dynamics of a very good group. I will see all of you at various meet ups and look forward to playing with all of you then. I will wish Pete and Dave a happy birthday the next time that I see them.

S: If things change please let me know. It would be really great to have you.

(In October 2021, a party was scheduled at the pickleball courts where I host Meet-ups. I am declining an invitation to the party and am addressing my text to the individual who was responsible for my invitation to the August birthday party being rescinded.)

P., “Thanks for your invite to the Kilmer Halloween party but I regretfully decline. In August, S. had invited me to a birthday party for Pete and Dave. Since I am friendly with just about all of the Kilmer group, I accepted. I discussed with S. what to bring and I looked forward to the get together. Unfortunately S. contacted me later and apologetically asked me not to come as there was an issue with me being invited. I was disappointed but I did not want S. to feel more awkward so I told her I would not go. I did wish Pete and Dave Happy Birthdays when I saw them on the courts.

It’s a shame that someone in the group felt to exclude me. Besides the competition in Pickleball, what may be most important are the social connections and friendships we develop in the sport. I try to make and keep as many friendships as I can.

Because of the disappointment I felt at missing the earlier Kilmer party and not wanting to risk being told at the gate for the Halloween party that I am not welcomed, I decline your invitation.

I hope your party goes well and the attendees have a great time…”

(Text by P to the community Pickleball Group where both she and I belong. She admits to being the person who did not want me at the party and she attempts to explain why.)

P: I was uncomfortable about Eric attending the party at Kilmer because of comments directed at me during River Road meetups, which I kept private. Air cleared.

(I had asked her why I was denied entry to the party after being invited. I already knew she was responsible.)

P: Eric, you’d fear entry to the party would be denied? How dare you say or anyone believe this disparaging remark aimed at people you play with at RR (including my Tuesday meetup) Hainesport, & Jeff Young every week. This feeble ploy to gain sympathy should be above you.

(Turns out I was not invited to a surprise party for P in March 2022. I was disappointed I was not invited but I was angered to find out that I was deliberately excluded. As far as I knew I had very good relations with the rest of the Kilmer Group except P., who I thought I was rebuilding a past friendship with.)

( I was friendly with F. She was a member of the Kilmer Group and I enjoyed our conversations and playing pickleball together. There was an issue with the RR pickleball courts and she seemed upset with me on how I handled it. I sent her a text explaining my rationale and I included this wish below…)

Me: Don’t want to lose your friendship.

A few days after I sent the text, I noticed that she had unfriended me on Facebook. Recently I saw F on the pickleball courts. Maybe my imagination, but she seemed to be avoiding me. However later we wound up partnered in a game. After the game ended, we had this brief conversation:

Me: F, why did you unfriend me on Facebook?
F: I don’t know what you are talking about. I did not unfriend you.
Me: (Showing her Facebook profile on my iPhone) It now says ‘Add Friend.” You deleted me. I just wanted to know why. You can leave our friendship but please don’t lie to me.

F denied that she did anything but her denials were hollow.

There are lies that may hurt my feelings and then there are lies that also insult my intelligence. While I am disappointed by the first lie, I am enraged by the second. So if you are going to take the opportunity to lie to me, at least do me the favor of taking the time to make your lie a plausible one.



She was Circe to my Odysseus. And like Odysseus, I resisted the siren’s call…


If there is no honesty, loyalty and trust in a friendship, there is no friendship.

Deceit is hurtful; from those we considered friends, devastating.