My sister Sarah once described the thought process of men to me.  It goes something like, “That guy did it, so I could probably do it.  I’m at least as good as that guy. Yeah, I could definitely do that.  I mean, it’s sort of like I already did it. Yeah, that’s right, I did do it. I did that.”

As she explained this to me, the catalog of innocuous exaggerations (some might call ‘lies’) that cameo in the stories of my life flashed across my inner youtube. Stories that I’ve told so many times that fiction has become fact, and I’m honestly not sure exactly what happened.  Like a t.v. reality show, sure it happened, but not without some heavy editing and perhaps a few reenacted scenes.

I’d never considered my narrative gift a consequence of my being a man.  It seems more the product of my good Mormon upbringing.  The Realist in me long ago learned to suspend the cold, hard, and boring truth for the sake of an uplifting anecdote. Despite Peter repudiating the notion that Christ’s ministry was a ‘cleverly devised fable,’ more than once I’ve heard someone spin a yarn in a church talk for the sake of teaching the gospel truth.  Maybe it’s not important to fuss with all the complicating details, the messy stuff, and to just focus on the positive.  Many a man has prayed that his faults would die with him while his legacy of faith and goodness might live on.  Being brutally, unrelentingly honest isn’t necessarily better and may not get us any closer to truth – or any other purpose for which we might be telling a story.

After a General Conference weekend a few years ago, I was talking to a new friend. He asked me if I had enjoyed Conference.  I said that I liked it, and then in a gesture of honesty (the kind where you complain about something that of course they’d complain about too), I said I didn’t like the way some of the sisters spoke because it seemed so fake.  “Really?” he said, “Anyone in particular?”  “Yeah,” I said, “one of the sisters in the General Primary presidency, they’re always the worst.”  He said, “Well, I’m sure they’re pretty nervous.”  And we left it at that.  A few years later I found out that I was talking about his mother.  So much for brutal honesty, better to have stuck with the manly truth.

What’s even stranger is when Rebecca and I do this together. At dinner parties and other social gatherings, one of us starts in on an exaggeration and the other smiles glibly and adds a bit or two. We both know what actually happened, and we both know it’s better if we save the memory by improving it. It’s why I don’t comment on Rebecca’s Apron Stage posts: somewhere along the way we silently agreed that we would never publicly point out each other’s little lies.

As this will most likely be my first and last post on the Apron/Hammer Stage, I can’t help but indulge in my Raskolnikoffian urge to confess a few whoppers.

First, I didn’t pass the foreign service exam and I don’t work for the State Department.  Africa just seems to be the only continent that we could move to without one of Rebecca’s family members living close by.

Second, I don’t actually speak Q’eqchi’, the Mayan language I supposedly learned on my mission to Guatemala.  I just make clicking sounds with my tongue and try my best to impersonate an ewok. No one in America ever knows the difference.

And finally, Rebecca, “Traci” who regularly comments on your posts is not actually a real person.  Well, he’s a person, but he lives in Mumbai and works for www.yourmaninindia.com. I pay him regularly to leave excellent and hysterical comments on your posts. He also helps out with those love-y emails I send to you each week – it’s not all him, I tell him what it should include and he runs with it.  And in that way, it’s sort of like I did it, you know?