Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The "Hole" Truth

His official title was the honorable Senator William Benson Stevens - his unofficial title was the "Kool Aid King". A liar's liar, this "honorable man" spent his days and nights in constant pursuit of his own personal nirvana: The Undefeatable Lie. A lie so interwoven with reality - so effectively twisting the truth as it simultaneously seems to honor it - that every argument against it had an equally persuasive counter-argument. The Kool Aid King knew he'd be the first in history to find this holy grail. After all, is not the consciousness of mankind reaching ever higher?

A devoted artist to his craft, the Kool Aid King was legendary even among his fellow tricksters in the Senate. Believe his words at your own peril! His seductive, mind-bending speeches made you want to believe, to hope he was somehow right. But just when you were convinced this time he was telling the truth, a cold sober voice whispered yet into your ear, "Don't do it! Don't drink the Kool Aid!" But the weak, the uncommitted, the cynical souls could not help but follow this pied piper of prevarication.

Before I met him I'd seen him in action, speaking with all the clear magical conviction of a man who sees the rainbow's end and knows it's just a matter time before he reaches it. Like I said, he made you want to root for him and it was easy getting caught up in his sway. I felt like Dorothy in the poppy field, struggling against the overpowering scent, fighting to keep my head. This is a dangerous man, I remember thinking. If your roots were not firmly set in reality, your heart was sure to follow his deluded dreams - right over a cliff.

It was at a local watering hole where I bumped into the Kool Aid King. Hearing I was a reporter, his eyes delightedly engaged me as a lion's upon fresh meat. Reporters love tall tales and the believing of tall tales was food for his delusion. But the tale this time was not one of how his wars were holy and other's tragically misguided, or how his selfish interests were actually in the interest of all or even his most favorite commentary on the Foul Lies Told By Others. No, tonight he was just another drunk in a bar with his marriage on the rocks. With all the powers of his intellect bent on making the real unreal, he regaled me with his tale of wifely woe:

"I'm not saying I'm perfect. Nobody's perfect! But she's got to realize that if she doesn't face herself - if she doesn't admit her true dreams and hopes - then how can she expect anything else to work when building off a foundation like that? Sooner or later you're just going to erupt in frustration and what can I do about that? I can't live her life for her. I can be there for her and offer support, but she's got to make the choice to pursue her true self." At this point I was thinking: Woman, can't you see the truth of what he's saying? Get your act together! Feeling a tad sheepish at what surely had been my previously too-harsh judgment of this deep soul, I listened on:

"It's tragic how we sometimes cheat ourselves, saying we want one thing when we truly want another. We fall in love with our delusions - vehemently defend them even when they cause us pain. Is reality such a bad thing we should spend our entire lives trying to escape it? Is not responsibility our salvation? If each of us could face these things, set a course for ultimate truth, the blessings of life would overflow until the end of time. My wife is a wonderful woman and I wish you could meet her and be dazzled by her soul as I was, but if she stays the course and refuses correction - something she must do for herself, regardless of my own needs - then where is hope? She's killing me and breaking my heart." With a heavy sigh, he pardoned himself and departed. And I was outraged.

This woman - this sick, misguided being - needed to be straightened out immediately! It was such an obvious tragedy, a case of one person's injustice to herself causing wreckage in the lives of others. If only I could talk to her and make her see sense! What an infuriating person! It was all just so...galling. This image painted in my mind perturbed me and I couldn't seem to shake it. Visibly vexed, I ordered a drink hoping to drive out this woeful woman from my psyche. The feeling, though, was she was going to stay there forever!

That's when I heard the laughter.

I turned my head to see two bar regulars grinning from ear to ear and focused directly on me. I suspected they were going to offer me offensive rationalizations against the great words I'd just absorbed and I was mightily ready to refute any foul words that left their self-serving mouths.

"Fell for it hook, line, and sinker, didn't ya?" asked the first, noting the consternation on my face.

"Don't feel bad, pal," consoled the second. "You're not the first. In fact, your reaction was a lot more reserved than most."

I had a sick, gnawing feeling as they continued, my resolve crumbling as they spoke.

"He's good at getting ya all riled up, wanting to practically smack his old lady around, but the truth is just the opposite. She left him because he physically tried to strangle her."

Dear Lord!

The second winked to the first. "She must have said something truthful - more than he could stand!" They chuckled in understanding as I gradually melted under the barstool. "The man is an abuser of words - so why not people. He thinks he's very clever. If you confront him and ask him if he's telling the whole truth, he'll shoot you down with his conscience clear, stating unequivocally: Yes, sir, I speak the hole truth! That's what I've always done and that's what I'll always do till the day I die!" Again, the two shared a knowing laugh. "See? What he doesn't tell you is he's leaving off the "w". He's actually not lying about the hole in his truth!"

Wow, what a snake. To my own self be true!

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