Social Neophyte Specializing in Awkward Silences & Stares Since 1985
Originally published in Synthesis Weekly: July 2010
I went to high school with someone who was a pathological liar. Everyone told me she had a problem with it, but I figured (a) it’s high school, so you have to take any rumored truth with a huge grain of salt, and (b) I wanted to find out for myself if everyone else was right. I went really far out of my way to save her from herself, (not in a “Jesus loves you” type of way, more so in a well-meaning but ill equipped “high school” type of way). She ended up staying at my house after being kicked out by her bible thumping parents, and it wasn’t soon afterwards that I started to see first-hand the evidence of how easily she manipulated the truth. Watching it action was bizarre, her conviction that whatever “fact” she was trying sell at the time, was absolute. Her resolve never wavered, and she never admitted defeat. It would have been intensely interesting if she hadn’t been manipulated both myself and my family. In the end she disappeared as mysteriously as she’d arrived, moving back to her parents house and dropping off the social radar altogether. Maybe I’m crazy, but it’s always my initial inclination to trust people until they’ve proven in some way that I shouldn’t. It seems more and more these days that simple kindness is perceived by people as an attempt to get something. I’m just as guilty of this as anyone; I usually avoid eye contact, lest I invite unwanted conversation. Watching Confessions Of A Superhero recently, I was reminded of my old pathological liar friend. Confessions is a documentary, filmed in 2007 which chronicles the lives of the costumed superheroes who pose for pictures on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Focusing in particular on the four who dress as Superman, Wonder Woman, The Hulk, and Batman, it’s sometimes difficult to know whether to laugh or feel sorry for them. Each of them is incredibly dysfunctional in their own way, with Batman (real name Maxwell Allen) telling dubious tales of his past life of a mobster, while his wife casts suspicious doubts on his stories, claiming he has been known to exaggerate the truth from time to time. All four exhibit signs of severe mental issues, perhaps the most serious case being that of Superman, (Christopher Dennis). From claiming to be the son of an Oscar and Tony winning actress, (whose family denies she had any children), to getting engaged to his longtime girlfriend at a Superman Convention, he is the standout of the film, although not in a completely desirable way. Confessions is heartbreaking in most simplistic way, yet fascinating at the same time. Anything that gives insight into someone else’s psyche is worthwhile in my book, so go forth and experience life through eyes whose inane ramblings may hit closer to home than you think.