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Sat, March 23

Barnes: Fabrications and exaggerations

Dr. Ron Barnes

Dr. Ron Barnes

In my old Kansas City neighborhood back in the 1930s there was a kid my age named Donnie. That wasn’t his real name, but it will do for now.

Donnie was a genuine, certifiable, bona fide fibber. He was the real thing; the real McCoy. He didn’t just embellish or overstate. He just plain made up stories or answered questions with responses that were bald-faced fabrications.

It got so the teachers wouldn’t even call on him. They knew what they’d get. Baloney!

What flabbergasted and confused us kids – and I’m certain none of us understood their reasoning – was how our neighborhood parents defended him.

“He’s sure got an active imagination,” my mom used to say. “I swan,” Mrs. Kramer would exclaim, “he can whip up stories with the best of them, can’t he!” Even crusty, old Mr. Crosbie gave Donnie sort of an endorsement: “That boy is some sort of inventive genius, ain’t he!” And my sweet, old grandmother thought

Donnie was a born storyteller.

Me and my buddies just learned to roll our eyes or let them glaze over when the adults sugar-coated his fibs. They might dismiss or downplay his flights into LaLaLand, but we made no such allowances. To us, he was a plain and simple liar.

When we got to high school, it became clear that the teachers were far less tolerant than those in elementary school. His smooth, gilded responses to their questions elicited short and often angry rebuttals from some of the teachers. He soon became more of a victim than the rest of us. And, frankly, we thought he was getting what he deserved.

It became clear to me and my buddies that Donnie no longer seemed to know how to be honest and factual. I think that sometimes he really wanted to give teachers a legitimate response, but somehow he just couldn’t pull it off.

In several classes I had with him, he would start off with a real good sentence or two, but then his old habits would kick in and he’d take off into the wild beyond. And he’d get blasted out of the sky.

“Don’t try to talk nonsense in my class, boy. I won’t tolerate it,” became sort of a standard response among teachers.

When he did talk, the tall stories still continued; he couldn’t stop. Teachers no longer called on him, but he never seemed bothered by that.

I’ve been thinking about him recently. Maybe old Donnie was born too soon.

You see I can picture him now living in our nation’s capitol and working in a top level administrative position. He would fit right in.

Imagine how he would deal with the “Silence of the Lambs,” also known as Congress!

If nothing else, he would sure stir them up!


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