"Eat the last cupcake?  Who, me?  Let me think..."

“Eat the last cupcake? Who, me? Let me think…”




HOW BIG was the one that got away?  Hmm... really?

HOW BIG was the one that got away? Hmm… really?

Okay, let’s see a show of hands. (Work with me here.) When you read the title, how many of you immediately thought of the two-word lead in? Here’s a hint: it’s not about calling the fire department, but is about the burning effects of perjury. You know: “Liar, liar…pants on fire!”

Tuesday, July 7th, is “Tell the Truth Day.” It should last longer than just one day–maybe a month or an entire year—as the purpose of this day is to live with no lies, to give up half-truths, fibs and even white lies—and in fact, to say nothing unless it is the truth, for an entire day. Hmm…next Tuesday could be interesting—and fairly quiet, too—if all the politicians running for office followed the day’s rules.

This is a day that would confuse my mom more than her usual confusions from dementia. She would approve of the concept, but I’m pretty sure she would also wonder why it’s a ONE DAY activity instead of a FULL LIFE practice. If she’d ask why July 7th is Tell The Truth Day, the only thing I could say is that at least it’s better than no day at all.

There are numerous books and movies about the techniques of lying, the successes and failures, the humorous and tragic outcomes. The movie that comes to my mind is THE INVENTION OF LYING. In a very brief summary, it’s about a world where everyone can tell only the truth, except for one man who is able to lie.

Author Stephen King said this in his book ON WRITING: “Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth inside the lie.” In Tom Wolfe’s ADVICE TO WRITERS, he says “The problem with fiction is it has to be plausible. That’s not true with non-fiction.” And in ANIMAL DREAMS, author Barbara Kingsolver says this: “The truth needs so little rehearsal,” which works well with Mark Twain’s reminder that “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.”

“Tell The Truth Day” is July 7th. If you get discouraged, remember that July 8th is SCUD Day, which means savor the comic, unplug the drama, so if you have funny stories about trying to tell the truth on Tuesday, you can share them on Wednesday. And if you survive both days, July 9th is a day to reward yourself: Sugar Cookie Day.

Forrest Gump:  "My Mama always said you've got to put the past behind you before you can move on."  In that spirit, put lying behind you and move on this Tuesday, July 7th.  (Wickipedia picture)

Forrest Gump: “My Mama always said you’ve got to put the past behind you before you can move on.” In that spirit, put lying behind you and move on this Tuesday, July 7th. (Wickipedia picture)


Filed under celebrations, Dementia/Alzheimer's, just doing the best we can, lessons about life

55 responses to “…PANTS ON FIRE!

  1. juliabarrett

    Oh wow! Those quotes are priceless! I must remember. Might copy them and post them. I’ve always believed the best fiction is true fiction. Nonfiction is another animal altogether.
    I appreciate your mom. We all value the truth. Except for fishing stories. The size of a fish can be exaggerated!

  2. LOVE this one … “The problem with fiction is it has to be plausible. That’s not true with non-fiction.”
    It is amazing the half-truths, white lies, and with-holding the truth that is done. It will be an interesting Tuesday.

    • I think so, too, Elizabeth. Maybe that’s why the originators made it only one day, instead of a week or a month. It’s harder to be completely honest–or silent–than we think, right? 😉

      • Who are the originators anyway? Who thinks up all the different subjects for different days? And how can you keep up with what is required for different days. Most of the time I would not have a clue what certain days are supposed to stand for.
        I grant this subject about lying or telling the truth is a very interesting one. I do not like to be lied to. I always like to find out the truth about things. If I had it in me to write a novel, I would try to write about truthful things. Of course the characters would be my invention. Still, I think they would have to be made very believable.
        On the other hand there are genres, where the author is deliberately telling fibs or grossly exaggerating and the reader knows the purpose of the writing. These stories can actually be very funny!

      • You’re right in so many ways, Uta. Truth–and how it’s interpreted or applied–is an arguable concept. There’s a process somewhere that allows individuals or groups to nominate themes for certain days, and when I research dates I find that sometimes there are several “official” themes for certain days. I don’t understand the process; I just enjoy reading and considering the results. 😉 And that’s the truth!

  3. I think it’d a day when you’ll find out just how many relatives Truth has. I think half truths will come, probably along with fibs, prevarications, white lies and exaggerations. I’d set a few more seats at the top table too since authors will know these old friends and many more.
    xxx Massive Hugs Marylin xxx

    • These relatives of truth aren’t even kissing cousins in most cases, David, but I agree with the point you’re making. And your’e right; we’d have to set quite a few more seat at the main table! Hugs to you, too!

  4. Thanks for alerting me to Tell the Truth Day. I’ll have to remember to not get myself into situations where the truth could be uncomfortable. I’m not sure if I’ll tell you how I fare. May not be able to be truthful about it! 🙂

    • I think that’s why they included the alternative, Norah. If we can’t avoid the situations and aren’t sure how to word something…then we can just say nothing. That’s the plan I’m going for on Tuesday. 🙂

      • I hope your plan worked! (I forgot all about the day in my busyness – don’t think I told any lies though! (I hope that wasn’t one!) 🙂

  5. I designed a course entitled Truth in Fiction near the end of my teaching career. You can immediately spot both the contradiction and the authenticity in this phrase.

    Now I’ll I’m monitor my truthfulness today – ha! I live by the motto: “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.” Again, thanks for this inspiring admonition.

    Happy Fourth! Thanks for commenting on my blog today, Marylin. You’re a first responder!

    • A first responder? Yea! I like that.
      Truth in Fiction almost sounds like an oxymoron, Marian, except to those of us who were teachers and loved reading…and understood that the best fiction grows from true seeds. I think we belonged to the same club.

  6. Does this mean that I can say exactly what I think? Holding back the truth and creating ‘white lies’ is encouraged in our culture – because we don’t want to hurt the feelings of others. As a child I was always getting into hot water for being too blunt.
    Nowadays, working with so many delightful autistic children who say it just as it is, I wonder whether this approach is the best after all.

    • I think that “blunt” is sometimes good, Jenny, but other times it can be hurtful, and that creating white lies encouraged because it’s easier and meant to cause less conflict or pain. Those are lessons I learned as a child, as I, too, was often in hot water for being blunt. Our culture has so many shades of gray, especially in legal and political realms, that truth sometimes gets lost in the mix. Which is why I found this simple “Tell The Truth Day” compelling…and more complex that it first appeared.

  7. Marylin, I did get your title right from the start. As a child, my friends and I recited, “Lair, Lair, Pants on Fire”. Children say the darndest things. And it’s too bad we have to have one day to tell the truth. We should always tell the truth. Love the photos you posted as well. And Happy July 4th to you and your family.

    • I remember jumping rope to chants of “Liar, Liar…” and other little phrases from nursery rhymes, Tracy. I know my mom would wonder why we have to have a specific day to tell the truth, as it was her nature to always tell the truth–not hurtfully or harshly–but honestly…or be silent.

  8. We often withhold the truth so that we don’t hurt people . In so many ways we all have our own version of what is true.

    • You’re absolutely right, Gerlinde. Which certainly makes this “special” day open for interpretation. Silence is also a good alternative when the option is hurtful.

  9. Claudia

    Of all the vices in childhood, lying was the worst, most evil one. Thus I love fiction because it allows me to “story” and make up tales. Non-fiction is worrisome to me as I fear getting a fact wrong. So ficiton is liberating! You have a great Fourth of July today!!!

    • Fiction certainly does have its own charms, Claudia, and creating our own stories is liberating. And when I read very good fiction, I realize that often the “truth” is more real and accurate than in some of the nonfiction.

  10. I’m going to share this with our builders Marylin. It’s an odd concept though. My favourite euphemism for lying is “being economical with the truth”.

  11. I really enjoyed The Invention of Lying. It showed how we lie every day (just through being polite to people) and how we can then create stories and plays and movies through ‘tales’. I know some people who will lie about absolutely everything and other people who are so truthful it can really shock you. I’m sure I don’t lie – but then again I often give people compliments to make them happy, so I think I’ve just told a little white lie when I wrote ‘I’m sure I don’t lie’ 😉

    • I wish my mother could read and understand your comment, Dianne. She would be shaking her head strongly in agreement. What you call little white lies is what she would call basic kindness, and kindness was at the top of her list of essentials!

  12. No lie! I’m looking forward to Sugar Cookie Day. SCUD day also appeals to me. I agree with your Mom, Marylin, Tell the Truth Day should not be limited to just one day. But, I doubt that politicians could even last 24 hours under the pressure of having to tell the truth.

    In the movie, “Roman Holiday,” the characters Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck put their hands in the Mouth of Truth in Rome. If anyone lies, legend has it, that they could lose their hand in that fierce-looking piece of stone. 😉

    • I remember that, Judy! And didn’t you also have a picture with your hand in the Mouth of Truth in Rome?
      Hmm. How strong do you think is superstition…or guilt? How many politicians would sweat and hesitate if they had to put a hand in the Mouth of Truth…especially if the first to do it somehow got a bite? 🙂

  13. July 7 was my dad’s birthday and he would have loved “tell the truth” day. I always remember him as being very honest. What a great tribute to him.
    I will certainly have a sugar cookie on sugar cookie day. I love that!
    Thanks Marylin for a post to bring a smile on the 4th of July!
    xo Joanne

    • This is a new celebration for July 7th , Joanne: In addition to being “tell the truth day,” it is also Happy Birthday to your wonderful dad who was an honest man. Sometimes things just coincide perfectly! Now I’m smiling, too.

  14. Don

    I remember that little phrase so well Marylin. I also remember asking myself what the connection was between burning pants and not telling the truth. I never solved that. 🙂

  15. On Tuesday, I will be mostly in the company of my dog. It is easy to speak the truth to a dog. Indeed, one doesn’t even need to speak it. To be in the company of a dog is to be in a state of truth. 😉

  16. Jim

    Last night I watched yet again the movie “Contact,” which is based on a science fiction story by Carl Sagan. Carl explores the most basic question mankind has ever asked: “Is there God?” Who should we trust ultimately to answer that question? Science or Religion? In the movie one must decide whether or not to believe the scientist Ellie Arroway’s account of her experience twenty-six light years from earth by means of an elaborate “machine” made possible by all nations of earth. Is she telling the truth or is her story part of an elaborate hoax which the entire world has labored to finance? Palmer, the story’s renowned spiritual adviser to the President of the United States, says, “I, for one, believe her.” His statement offers that science and religion should be allies in the search for truth. I, for two, believe Ellie. Blog readers, read the book or see the movie to discover why Ellie’s account uplifts mankind while leaving “The Beginning” an enticing mystery.

    And God bless Carl Sagan for his life’s work to bring the mysteries of the Universe to a scientific level everyone, even God-fearing believers, might embrace. At least that’s my opinion about the “truth” issue on my mind this Sunday morning, Marylin, as we prepare to go to church. I thank you and your stimulating blog for prodding me to sort out and share last night’s impressions.

    • Sweetie, I can always count on you to find some level of importance in my writing that I hadn’t planned. And I always love hearing your perspective about my topics. Thank you, honey.

      • Jim

        July 25, 2015: Well, wouldn’t you know! No suspicion of lying this time. Stephen Hawking, the renown British physicist, has recently launched an ambitious 100 million project in conjunction with a wealthy Russian billionaire. The project will use the world’s two most powerful telescopes to search for life in outer space. The telescopes are much more sensitive to radio waves and light than anything previously used to find alien life. They can detect a household light bulb from 25 trillion miles away. The data gathered by the telescopes will be processed in a fraction of the usual time by using millions of Android smartphones worldwide, phones provided by you and me when we are not using them. Carl Sagan through his character Ellie Arroway in his story “Contact” dramatizes our need to know. Indeed, Stephen Hawking acknowledges that alien life could be hostile just as doubters in “Contact” forecasted, but Stephen says, “We are intelligent, we are alive, and we must know.” I can hear Ellie Arroway applauding, “Yes, Stephen, this is how it’s been done for billions of years. They told me so.”

  17. I am thankful when I hear of special days in a month, Marylin. I right away thought of the finishing words of that expression! I hope not to tell lies. I have heard it best as we age,we should be honest. First, since we should “know better than to lie” and secondly, since it is “easier to remember!” 🙂
    I was so happy to hear of all your family who gathered to celebrate early your mother’s amazing 97 years on earth. I am so glad you share some of her past thoughts and include us in on family occasions, Marylin.

    • Thank you, Robin. We are all so glad you got together to celebrate, even though Mom didn’t seem to realize who we were or what we were celebrating. But we knew, and we shared the connection that began with my mom and dad.
      As we get older, it is easier to remember the truth…unless you have dementia and really believe you’re on the farm growing up or working with your husband to build a business and raise a family. And those are also truths, but from your past that has now become your present.

  18. The 7th will be a dangerous day for all those whose significant others ask: Does they outfit make me look fat? Yikes!

  19. Love those quotes and the two top photos are adorable! Ironically, I am reading this on July 7th and find it very poignant that it should be ‘Tell the Truth Day’. Today in the UK, it is the ten year anniversary of the 7/7 London bus bombings by terroists, killing 52 innocent people. Yet in a world so filled with lies and hatred and evil, it is good to know that the truth will always prevail. I say as with your dear mom, make it a way of life for every day, so much better. Hugs Marylin.

  20. And today is the day of “truth”—which, of course, my mother would ask why it has to be a special day–but we’ll hope it makes a difference on some level. I didn’t realize today was London’s anniversary of the bus bombings. It’s such a sad time, especially for family and friends who will remember it forever. For me it was Oklahoma City and then 9-11, and now also the church in S.C. and all the chaos everywhere. The world is full of these senseless killings, Sherri, you’re so right.
    But I’ve also had the best time reading through all your previous comments this morning, Sherri; they are so wonderful and uplifting, and I’m very glad you finally have your computer again!

    • Yes, chaos everywhere…but in the midst of all of that, and as you say, isn’t it wonderful to share all that is good and blessed and beautiful, uplifting one another? Thank you dear Marylin, I’m so glad to be back reading all your wonderful posts again. Hugs 🙂

  21. Molly

    That beautiful little boy, Gannon, is such a storyteller…I prefer not to call him a liar, that we have implemented a policy. When Gannon starts to tell a story, he has to start it with, “Once upon a time…” or “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” ! I want him to keep his creativity, but also to distinguish between truth and fiction!

    • And he’s sooo good at it, or at least so cute at trying to be good at it. 😉
      You’re a terrific mom in so many ways, Molly, and giving him key phrases to use to separate truth from fiction is an excellent technique.

  22. SCUD day, today, reminds me of my advice to students on taking essay tests: “If you can’t make it right, make it interesting.” In other words, lie boldly. I would often give a point or two to imaginative responses.

    Thanks for the excuse to think about these special days, Marylin. You’ve given me an idea for tomorrow. I have a family recipe in my book for sugar cookies. July 9 will be the perfect day to share it.

  23. If it’s a really good recipe, feel free to share it with us all, Shirley!
    Specially designated days make for good discussion, but some also make for careful thought and application. Tell The Truth Day was one of those for me.
    I love that you gave a point or two for at least making things interesting in their writing! 🙂

  24. Well, I only just got to your post Marylin so I’m hoping I told the truth on Tuesday 🙂

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