LYING IS A KEY PART OF MODERN life and is vital for tax returns, marriage vows and all manner of sworn affidavits. Lies come in two kinds: lies that get you out of trouble and lies that get you into trouble. Often one lie can do both.
In poker there are little involuntary signs that give away what you’re thinking; subtle little things that the experienced eye can pick up immediately – like copious sweating, scratching or uncontrolled shooting. Similarly, you’re not a good liar if you do any of the following after lying: uncontrollable giggling, thermo-nuclear blushing, tearful confessing.
Of course, you never know who the really good liars are because they’re never found out. Good lies are always anchored in a tiny particle of truth. For example: you’re more likely to believe someone’s climbed Everest if they’ve been to Nepal. If they’ve never left Timaru you’re entitled to have your doubts.
They say that the eyes are the window of the soul. When someone can’t look you in the eye, they may well be lying. Or they might have something wrong with their eyes. On the other hand, you don’t want to make too much eye contact after a little fib. Staring into someone’s eyes like a crazed bush-baby is also a dead give-away.
Lies come in a wide range of colours: white lies are little untruths designed to avoid hurting other people’s feelings; pink lies are things you make up for the sheer fun of it; red lies are used for filling in any kind of official paperwork; and purple lies are exaggeration taken to the point of complete and utter fiction, usually related to male performance in sport, fighting or bed.
Some people suffer from involuntary or pathological lying. Ask them where they are from and they’ll say New Guinea even though you know they’re born and bred in Timaru. Even when you start asking them difficult supplementary questions like, “What part of New Guinea?” they’ll keep lying away with, “Oh just a little fishing village – you wouldn’t know it”. And then they’ll make up a name which sounds suspiciously like a mispronounced suburb of Timaru.
When you think someone’s lying, there are two ways of dealing with it. Saying you want to know every little detail will force them to spin such an incredibly tangled web of deceit that they’ll get irretrievably stuck in it and you can have hours of fun watching them struggle with ever more outlandish porkies. Or you can simply say, “I’ve never heard such a pack of lies in all my life”. Best not to say this during the wedding service though.
© GUY BROWNING IS AUTHOR OF ‘NEVER PUSH WHEN IT SAYS PULL’ AND CREATOR OF ‘TORTOISE IN LOVE’ (DVD) – USED BY PERMISSION.