I’m sure we’ve all been there. We’re sitting at the bar socializing and one person has been there and done that every time someone has something interesting to say. It has happened to me plenty of times. The most recent was just over a week ago.
It’s good to know that the art of telling tall tales is still in good shape. It has been around since the first beer was enjoyed and it will be around as long as beer has the ability to intoxicate even the most careful of enthusiasts. But, why do we do it?
Why do we feel the need to exaggerate a story or to completely make up one on the spot? I think that’s an interesting question and I’m going to dive into it. But first, let me provide you with more detail about the person I will use as an example so you know exactly what I mean.
First of all, he was a friend of a friend who decided to hang out with me one day. We went to the local pub and started putting a few down. An elderly gentleman decided to start talking to us about fishing and my new acquaintance, let’s call him Will, started talking about fishing.
The conversation soon turned to San Francisco and Will was from there. Soon we learned that this elderly gentleman had a young girlfriend and we got to meet her. She was a great looking girl. So, Will started talking about he was a gigolo.
It was directly proportional to the amount of beer we drank that the stories were more and more coincidental. A conversation later with a young gentleman and his mother revealed that the young man was in the MMA and was looking for something else to do with his life. Will had a best friend who coached MMA and he had gone through the training before himself.
When the young man started talking about how he was from New York, Will was from New York. In fact, I’d be willing to bet he grew up on the same street. Somehow, that would have to coincide with him coming from San Francisco and being an EMT, a volunteer Firefighter and everything else he added to the conversation.
So now that you know the kind of person I’m talking about, I would like to know what it is that makes a person want to be everything in every conversation. I have several theories and I hope I hit close to home. Because I would hate to think that someone is walking around afflicted and not knowing that they have these issues.
The first would be the most obvious. Drinking beer lowers inhibitions and skews judgment. In fact, the two things go hand in hand. But, they aren’t quite the same. When your inhibitions are lowered, you rationalize with the voice in your head. When your judgment is off, you are willing to do things you wouldn’t normally do.
So sitting there at the bar, clanging beers together, those stories you’ve been telling for years all of a sudden don’t seem as interesting anymore. What’s the harm in adding a little to it? Does it matter that there were a few more people in the fight than there actually were? Does it matter that your car was going faster than it is mechanically possible? Those little exaggerations don’t hurt a soul.
But then, there are those people who think their lives aren’t good enough. Someone dynamic walks into the bar and orders a beer, has everything together and can tell a few stories himself. He climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, he met the Queen of England and he’s just passing through town on his way to an award ceremony where he is being awarded Man of the Year.
So, here come the tales. All of a sudden, you find yourself saying the most outrageous stuff that you think hangs just on the edge of being believable. One time you were mountain climbing and you got your arm stuck, so you had to cut it off with a butter knife. You sewed your arm back on as you walked down the mountain. I’m not entirely sure that’s not possible.
In fact, that was when you were invited to the White House to meet the President. But, you had to cancel because you got caught in the middle of a drug war in downtown Washington, D.C. But, those kids needed you more than the President did. So, he’d just have to wait. Man of the Year? You’ve been selected three times.
The art of telling tall tales goes by many names. Exaggerate, B.S., Shoot the $#!%, and broadcasting the news are just a few. It can be a healthy exercise that expands your imagination. It can also get you into trouble if one of your stories happens to come back and bite you in the butt. So, proceed with caution. But, know that you are not alone. It’s one of the oldest art forms most commonly observed in bars all over the world and millions of people practice it every day!
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