Lies and Liars

I was sitting in the sauna at my health club on a Sunday morning when I overheard two women having a conversation. Although I wasn’t actively listening, it was impossible not to overhear as one of them described how an acquaintance over a period of many years talked about her husband and his day-to-day impact on her life.

“She said that he loved sweets so she had to eat dessert too. It wasn’t fair for him to eat dessert without her and it was about indulging, so she could never get her weight down.”

“Yes, so?” The second woman asked.

“And she went on an on about what a gentlemen he was, never getting annoyed with the waiter when the steak was too well done. She talked about him all the time. I got daily reports on the places they went and the things they did. It was always something special.”

Her tone of voice made it clear that she’d been a little jealous, but, given the context of the health club, I thought she was going to launch into a typical diet or body image rant, but I was wrong.

“And then what happened?”

“I met some people that lived in the same building. They told me he’d been dead for ten years! She was making up stories about him…”

“You’d be surprised how many people are like that. Not just widows, just people making things up, living delusions…”

Lies and liars and delusions and daydreams abound. I choose to take what people tell me on face value, but, like characters in a novel, people are rarely entirely truthful, and are often deceptive.

Something to think about — in the sauna, outside it and definitely when crafting characters in fiction.


  1. Our fantasies and diversions are sometimes the things that keep us moving through life. Our first reaction is to pity the woman or assume she needs help, but at the same time we miss the lies and half truths we tell ourselves.

    I wonder when she started telling the stories and what her life with her husband was like before he passed away. Maybe she created a new life with him to remember him in a better light.

    • Candy Korman

      The writer in me wants the fantasies about the husband to have started after his death. She re-created him and her life with him to make it perfect.

      When my dad wrote his memoir about growing up in his family’s bakery in the Bronx, he looked back with rose-colored glasses on everyone in the family. It may a better, more satisfying and happy story of his childhood. Reality, or the dark side, is more in my genre. He was sometimes surprised by the darkness in my characters — although he acknowledged that it was realistic.

      Lies, liars and happy memoirs… umm…

    • I don’t think it’s a willful deception, I think the mind just plays tricks on people. My parents did NOT have a good marriage, and only stuck together because our family was all alone in a foreign country, and their generation didn’t get divorced – horribly frowned on.

      Yet when my Mother died, Dad was devastated, and spoke about how lovely she was. That’s when I twigged that in his head, they were both suddenly young again and he was remembering her as she had been when they’d first married.

      I admit Dad had mild dementia by then but not enough to explain the complete 180 degree shift. Perhaps the woman in Candy’s story gradually remade history into what she would have wanted it to be. And then…don’t we all, to some extent?

      • Candy Korman

        That was a little like my dad re-writing his father. It was a better memory and, perhaps, your father recreated his wife, making her what he had hoped she’d be based on the earliest part of their romance.

        The woman in the sauna story might well have turned a harsh angry man into the love of her life — eating desserts and all!