On Lying

Originally appeared in the Platte County Landmark

ryan-lochteIt seems like only yesterday – but was, in fact, decades ago. A young Chris Kamler walked behind his mother, who likely had two or three other children in tow either on her hip or, more likely, inside a full shopping cart. We had a habit of just grabbing things off the shelf and putting them in the cart. Lucky Charms? How did those get in there? A bag of marshmallows? That doesn’t seem right.

But it was that particular day I will never forget. In the pocket of my jean shorts (hey, this was the early 80’s) were three packages of Topps Baseball Cards. Packages that remained in my pocket until we safely reached our station wagon outside of the Bob’s IGA Superstore. (It was called “Superstore” but with four registers and no Chinese deli inside, it wouldn’t hold up to the standards of the HyVee that replaced it years later.)

“Where did you get those?” My mother asked as I began to rip open the first package snapping the pink, powdery slab of bubble gum into my mouth.

“From the store.” Now, this is technically correct. My mother’s error was not specifying how I obtained the baseball cards although the answer was relatively obvious since I was only seven and did not have a job, nor money to buy baseball cards.

“Did you pay for them?”

1983-topps-baseball-pack“Yes.” This, as some might call it, was a lie. You made a mistake, and now you compounded it by lying. Oh, sweet, innocent little seven year old Chris. If I could go back in time to change that moment and also whisper in your ear to cool it on the processed foods.

What followed was my first and most meaningful lesson about lying. The next several moments were a blur of my mother ripping me out of the car (likely leaving the other kids in the parking lot, which you could do back then) and storming me back into the store. At that point, I met the store manager, Mr. Lemon. I remember his name because he introduced himself to me from behind rimmed glasses pushed down to the tip of his nose. He had exchanged a twinkle wink with my mother and then proceeded to lay into me about the perils of stealing $1.75 worth of Topps baseball cards from his store. “What if we just let everyone take what they wanted? We would go out of business and I would lose my job!”

Easy there, Mr. Lemon. I get it. Don’t shoplift. And if you do shoplift, don’t lie to your mother about it. Oddly enough, when Bob’s IGA did go out of business years later, they said it was that lost revenue of $1.75 back in 1981 that put it over the top.

I was reminded of that story this week, when the whole world was held breathless as Ryan Lochte evaded the long arm of the Rio Police telling lie after lie to get out of the country. Finally, Lochte came clean about his drunken escapades, but has paid the price in the financial losses from a rash of lost endorsement deals. When you also look at the electoral cycle where lies have simply become commonplace, I’m not sure my mother approves.

If my mother had anything to do with this, he’d be yanked by his arm and paraded in front of the American public with a stern “DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU JUST DID? NOW YOU GO RIGHT OUT THERE AND APOLOGIZE TO AMERICA.”

Hey, we get it. People sometimes drink a little too much, pee on the side of a gas station and rip down a poster from the side of a building. It happens. Tequila is rough. But you SURE as hell don’t lie about it. The old saying remains as true as ever – it’s not the deed, it’s the coverup that will get you.

In addition to losing the trust of the American people, I’m most concerned that Ryan Lochte has lost the trust of my mother. I hope he’s happy and knows he will be going to bed without supper..

1 Comment

  1. Steve Lusk

    Funny, I was “busted” for stealing baseball cards from Garrett’s Food Market in Shawnee in the ’70s. I was taken across the street to the police station in an actual police car where my mother had to pick me up. It’s the last thing I stole other than pens from work and crap like that. Those lessons leave deep and lasting impressions.

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