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What to do? What to do? 

Everyone seems about to go for the throat. Many people are not sure whom to trust. Should they trust doctors who spend years and years learning about calculus, chemistry, biology and then more years in Medical school learning about anatomy, physiology, and medicine and then more years as an intern and resident? Or, instead, maybe how about believing a yelling, screaming talk show host? Hard to tell? Maybe no-one ever taught us how to tell liars from truth tellers. There is no simple formula that will guarantee us to be 100% accurate, but maybe we can think together about it. 


(Processed photo from one I took on Maui.)

Sam sit alone at the local sandwich shop, and began contemplating whether to have dessert after his nice lunch. It was a club sandwich, already a lot of calories, but what the hell, he thinks. With what the doctor said this morning, I should be free to eat anything I want, 

Three older guys — strangers — come in and waddle up to a table next to Sam’s. The trio have their menus but before glancing at them, they look up at a nearby TV and raise their fists. There’s a roar because someone has just run back a kickoff for a touchdown.

Andy says, “Wow! What a run back. I played in high school. Not easy running back a kickoff all the way into the end zone.” 

Sam regards the threesome. It’s hard for him to believe any of them were ever fit enough to play football, but most people do gain weight with age and lack of exercise, so — he could be telling the truth.

Bob says, “I played in high school and college. I was good. Blew my knee out as a sophomore though and lost my scholarship.” This too seems plausible to eavesdropping Sam.

Cal says, “I played in high school, college, and went pro. I was fantastic. Probably the best runner and wide receiver and quarterback in the history of Ohio State. I played free safety too. Had more tackles than anyone before or since. If I were playing quarterback, no way that guy would have scored. I was the top draft pick five years running. A lot of quarterbacks these days are too chicken to tackle anyone. I would have nailed him. I was breaking all the records for the Houston Texans! But I got bored. Football’s really a simple game.” 

Sam thinks that Cal is bragging way too much. His story is a priori unlikely. Regardless of what he says or how he says it, the chances that a random person is the best anything at Ohio State is highly unlikely. He played back, wide receiver, quarterback and free safety? That’s unlikely. Extremely unlikely. 

Sam frowns and shakes his head. What does it mean to be the “top draft pick” for five years? If that were true, it would lead naturally to an explanation but none was provided. Further, quarterbacks may be told not to risk their careers making a tackle on a punt return. But what quarterback is on the field to defend a kickoff return? 

Houston Texans? Their first season was 2002. This guy looks to be at least 65. So…he was playing all those positions when he was 45? That seems highly unlikely. Got bored playing football? Possible, but again seems very highly unlikely. Football’s a really simple game? Really

Cal’s story has a lot of holes in it. Now Sam laughs that he ever swallowed any of it.

Bob says, “You played for the Houston Texans? You mean the Oilers?” 

Cal shoves his chair back hard enough to spill water on the table. He pushes on the arms of his chair and manages to stand up and he yells even louder, pounding the table to illustrate just how much he believes in what he’s saying. “I said Texans and I mean Texans! I was the best in the whole damned state of Texas! The whole south for that matter!”

Sam laughs to himself, thinking, Well, that settles it I guess. Cal is really passionate and loud so he must be telling the truth, right?



People who are telling the truth do not feel the need to scream and yell and make even more outrageous claims the first time someone questions them. 

Sam snorts at the ridiculous claims and then has an idea. It takes Sam 20 seconds to pull out his  iPhone and look up Eli Manning, the first name that popped into his head. 

Sam reasons: “If Cal were really the best football player in the history of Texas, he could have easily verified it by finding his own entry on the web  (likely on Wikipedia) and shown his table mates the entry. He would not have had to scream and yell and pound the table.”

Sam thinks: Okay, but no-one’s going to fall for a con man like that. 

{Really? Don’t be too sure, Sam}. 

Cal says to the approaching and attractive server: “Hey, darling. You look yummier than anything on the menu. Do you know who I am? Do you know what I did before I became a billionaire? Go ahead guys. Tell this lucky sweetheart who’s going to be leaving someone a very big tip!” 

Andy and Bob may think: Well, at least he’s going to leave the tip.

So, Andy and Bob outline Cal’s biography in the football hall of fame (where his name definitely does not appear should anyone actually look it up). 

Andy and Bob feel pretty sheepish about joining in this pack of lies. But Cal doesn’t think they have been anywhere near lavish enough in their description of him. Cal says: “Oh, on, guys! Make this girl’s day! Tell her she’s had the pleasure of serving the greatest football player in the history of the game! I don’t say that. That’s what everyone says! Right, guys?” 

Now Sam looks over and can see that Andy and Bob are both a bit embarrassed. They’ve gone along with Cal’s lies, but they don’t want to admit to that now because it makes them out to be liars too. So they go along with the bigger lie. 

Andy says, “Yeah. Something else, right? He was OSU’s best player ever. Yep.” 

Bob says, “Uh-huh.” 

Cal shakes his head at Bob. “Come on! God, that’s the damndest weakest most candy-ass description I’ve ever heard, Bob. Tell her how many touchdowns I had. Just me. At OSU!” 

Bob looks bewildered. He knows it’s all a lie. People all over the restaurant are starting to look over at the table and more than a few are looking admiringly at Cal. 

Bob thinks to himself, Quite a few cute chicks here. Cal can’t handle all of them.”  He feels inspired. He takes out his iPhone and says, “Damn. Battery’s about gone. Let me just … here … fifty touchdowns. My God! That is amazing!” 

Cal rolls his eyes. “Give me that damned phone! That’s not right! It’s two hundred and fifty. Not fifty. Yep. There it is. I’m going to look up how many interceptions I had. Oh, crap! Battery dead. Hey guys, I gotta skedaddle. Here’s your crap cellphone back Bob.”

By now, Andy and Bob are both too embarrassed to come clean. Cal makes a big show out of taking out his wallet and thumbing a large pile of cash. He makes it look as though he’s leaving a big tip but actually only leaves a couple bucks. Andy and Bob split the entire bill.

Sam shakes his head slowly as he watches the three waltz out. Their server looks in awe of Cal and stares him out of the establishment. She even stares with some desire — despite the fact that Cal is grossly overweight and barely able to wobble his way out of the restaurant. But she imagines how once he must have been quite a specimen and it’s that image that is the real target of her desire. 

She also looks forward to finding out just how giant of a tip he left her. A few moments later, she walks over to the “billionaire’s” table and before opening up the placard, tries to guess how much it is. Several of her colleagues have come over as well. She turns around and tells them to back off. “It’s my tip, thank you very much” she says. “Just remember, I’m the one who tried to convince you all to share tips but you wouldn’t have any of it.”

They back off, slightly miffed. Now, the young lady has made up her mind it will be at least a hundred dollars, but she dares to hope that maybe he did something crazy and left her a thousand!! 

She notices her hands trembling as she opens up the placard and sees three bills. 

All ones. She looks more carefully at the bills. 





Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

She blinks. She sets her jaw. She’s not going to let her colleagues see her disappointment or that he stiffed her, especially after he felt her thigh. All the way up. She forces a gleeful tone into her voice and jams the outer corners of her lips up towards her ears. “Oh, boy!” She shouts with intended but pretended joy. “This will buy me a new iPhone!” As she said this, each successive word increased in loudness and pitch. She sounded a lot like someone desperately peddling costume jewelry on channel 666 at 4 am.

Her colleagues glance at each other. She fooled no-one. They all realize she got stiffed. Each is torn between comforting her, making fun or her, or just pretending along with her. For the sake of keeping a reasonably happy work environment, they all choose to go along with her. 

Sam shakes his head and looks down at his melted coffee ice cream with hazelnuts. Now it’s just cold coffee with a lot of wet nuts. 

And, then Sam realizes that that is the least tragic thing that happened here today. In the length of time it took his ice cream to melt, one liar became seven liars. 

Same took a deep breath. This is what’s happening inside me, he realized. 

That’s how my cancer grew so fast. 


A lot is not a little

The Truth Train

Try the Truth

The Orange Man

The Wobbly Man

Come back to the light side

My Cousin Bobby

Where Does Your Loyalty Lie?

Cancer Always Loses in the End

Author page on Amazon