A tooth left overnight in a glass of Coca-Cola will dissolve. Gone. Ruined by sugar and acid. “So that’s why.”
          “But I drank two at Calvin’s house.”
          “Once in a while is okay, but we’re not going to make it a habit.”
          “Please? Pleasepleaseplease—”
          “No. You had one.”
          “But—”
          “I think you’d look pretty silly without teeth, don’t you?”

 
          The Tooth Fairy.

 
          The Easter Bunny.

 
          I set up a video camera one year. Point the tripod at the tree and make sure I am the last to leave and the first to enter. Mom and Dad help.
          We watch the tape together after the candlelight service, wrapping paper strewn between us like blast debris. Fast-forwarding, fast-forwarding, and then an arm—“Slow it down! Dad, you’re missing it!”—the arm like a frantic windshield wiper—“Dad!” “Got it.”—Ho! Ho! Ho! and the arm waves normal and the camera shakes a little and it’s done.
          “What? But— Go back.” “Please?” “Can you please go back?”

 
          George, said his father, do you know who killed that beautiful little cherry-tree yonder in the garden? This was a tough question; and George staggered under it for a moment; but quickly recovered himself: and looking at his father, with the sweet face of youth brightened with the inexpressible charm of all-conquering truth, he bravely cried out, “I can’t tell a lie, Pa; you know I can’t tell a lie. I did cut it with my hatchet.”

 
          The cat runs away. The flat raccoon on the road is asleep. Grandpa doesn’t sign the Christmas cards or call on your birthday because he lives in Hawaii and it’s far away, but you can write and ask if he’ll visit, okay?

 
          Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception. ~Niccolò Machiavelli

 
          Rahab, the prostitute who sheltered two Israelite spies on her roof: “They left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.”
          James calls her righteous. Dante puts her in the third circle of Heaven.
          From the crushed king of Jericho: Lying whore.

 
          Crystal Magnum, 2006, is raped by three Duke University lacrosse players. Arrests happen. Eighty-eight faculty condemn the team. One player receives a thousand death threats. The coach resigns, the season is cancelled. The Rev. Jesse Jackson promises to pay Crystal’s college tuition.
          The rapists claim innocence.

Al Sharpton:           “This case parallels Abner Louima, who was raped and sodomized in a bathroom like this girl has alleged she was. That’s the case and just like in the Louima case, you have people here saying she fabricated it.”
Bill O’Riley:           “Why are we standing up for the girl if there is the possibility, based upon evidence, that the girl may have fabricated the story? Why don’t we all pull back and let the authorities investigate and let the legal system work?”
Al Sharpton:           “Well, first of all, the authorities have charged there was a crime, so they are not saying that at all. Second of all, people on any side of an argument have the right to advocate on behalf of who they believe. Thirdly, I think that when the prosecutors went forward, they clearly have said this girl is the victim, so why would we be trying the victim and not the…”

 
          Crystal Magnum, 2007, after a full police investigation with interviews and DNA analyses, is declared a hoax. The prosecutor is disbarred, found unanimously guilty of fraud, dishonesty, misrepresentation, making false statements before a judge, making false statements before bar investigators, and lying about withholding exculpatory DNA evidence.

Whoopi Goldberg:    “I know, Al, that you were down there, and you were really trying to look out for the folks that you thought were being really be run over, but as it turns out it wasn’t true. And I want you to apologize to them because those kids went through hell, and I think we owe it to them.
Al Sharpton:             “I didn’t get involved in that. Not one time. Never went to North Carolina.”

 
          I watch Schindler’s List in U.S. History. It’s as gray and red as a Bible. Oscar Schindler lies often. He bribes until his money runs out, and his lying and his bribing save eleven hundred Jews.
          The class is quiet when it ends. We stay quiet the rest of the day.

 
          She stayed close enough to the truth so that one could never be sure. She knew two other methods also—either to interlard her lies with truth or to tell a truth as thought it were a lie. ~John Steinbeck

 
          Remember the Maine.
          The U-2.
          The Gulf of Tonkin.
          The Not-a-Crook.
          The Weapons of Mass Destruction.

 
          All warfare is based on deception. ~Sun Tzu

 
          I read about Benzedrine inhalers and magic weight-loss pills. Lead paint, mercury thermometers, Thalidomide babies. Germany invented heroin as a safe, non-addictive alternative to morphine. More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette!

 
          Crystal Magnum, 2008, graduates from North Carolina Central University with a degree in police psychology. She publishes a memoir, in which she says the rape was not a hoax. In which she says the case was dropped for political reasons.

 
          The lobbied food pyramid.

 
          King Corn and Food, Inc.

 
          Mason Locke Weems made it up. One of Washington’s first biographers, who had an agenda to improve moral character and instill the Great Virtues. To establish a role model and bolster the original, magnificent, greatest Christian-American hero who has ever lived, Amen.

 
          Crystal Magnum, 2010, sets fire to her boyfriend’s clothes during a fight. Arrested on charges of attempted murder, first-degree arson, assault and battery, resisting an officer, misdemeanor child abuse. Partially convicted.

 
          D.A.R.E. to explore the unexplored. Here be monsters and suddenly we’re the first ones, wading through myth and legend and finding freedom, happiness, and warmth. We don’t see dragons or lose our grades. We don’t get pregnant. We aren’t shoving suppositories up our asses à la Trainspotting or whoring à la Requiem for a Dream. It’s just nice. Warm and cozy and soft. One of us uses the word “underwhelming.”
          We wait a year, just to make sure. No problem. No problem.

 
          Crystal Magnum, 2011, stabs and kills her boyfriend. Arrested.

 
          Kony 2012.

 
          We try it again, because it’s nice. A warmth in the shoulders, in the legs. A contentment with the world and with ourselves. Everything’s okay. Not great, but okay is enough right now. Okay is nice.
          Number three,
          number four,
          and it’s still no one-and-done thing and we’re still whole and unaddicted and happy and it’s nice. For the rare weekends, and it really is, and the hyper-vigilance drops.

 
          “Regular or low-fat?”
          “Regular. It’s not the nineties.”
          “What type of apples?”
          “Honeycrisp. Organic—get the organic ones.”
          “Really?”
          “Yeah.”
          “It’s bullshit. You know that, right?”
          “No it’s not.”
          “I don’t want to end up like Snow White.”
          “What?”
          “Snow White? Poison apples?”
          “I don’t know what you mean.”
          “God, I’m talking about pesticides.”
          “Organic doesn’t mean anything. I’m telling you”
          “That’s only with boxed stuff. Produce is legitimate.”
          “Fine, we’ll get some. I don’t care.”

 
          Crystal Magnum, 2013, is convicted of second-degree murder. Sentenced fourteen to eighteen years.

 
          Poor and barely employed, I scour Craigslist. Scattering emails, resumes, and cover letters like chaff.
          Barney did a great job on my carpets. I haven’t had much luck in the past using other Seattle carpet cleaners. But I now feel like I finally have my guy. Barney won’t let you down.
          Three minutes. Ten dollars via PayPal.

 
          “Fake it till you make it.”

 
          Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll.

 
          Above all, do not lie to yourself. A man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point where he does not discern any truth. ~ Dostoevsky

 
          “How often do you consume alcohol?”
          “Once a week or so.”
          “How many drinks do you usually have when you consume alcohol?”
          “One or two.”
          “Do you smoke or use any other tobacco products?”
          “No.”
          “Do you use any illegal drugs?”
          “No.”
          “Are you sexually active?”
          “No.”
          “If you are sexually active, do you have multiple partners?”
          “No.”

 
          Project MKUltra.
          The Patriot Act.
          Snowden and the NSA.

 
          Health at every size. Damn the heart attacks and diabetes and cancer and gout and gallstones and asthma and sleep apnea and osteoarthritis and exhaustion. #effyourbeautystandards

 
          Padded resumes.
          Exaggerated accomplishments.
          Fudged taxes.
          The American Dream!

 
          “Do you remember when Pluto stopped being a planet?”
          “Yeah.”
          “When was that?”
          “I was in elementary school, I think.”
          “No way.”
          “Yeah. So you would have been in junior high.”
          “That can’t be right. Let me look it—oh. Shit. 2005.”
          “Told you.”
          “I thought I was in college.”

 
          Ashley Madison.

 
          Volkswagen emission tests.

 
          “We unequivocally reject the allegations that Exxon Mobil has suppressed climate change research.”

 
          I’ll tell you what is real abuse, and I’ll tell you what is inappropriate for children: when you take generations of kids and teach them they’re just animals, there’s no God. You’re a result of millions of years of evolutionary processes. You just came from some slime over millions of years. Who determines right and wrong? You do. Who determines what’s good and bad? You do. What is marriage? Whatever you want to make it to be.
          You know, it’s really people like Bill Nye that are damaging kids. Creationists are teaching children that they’re special, that they’re made in the image of God, and, of course, giving them a basis for developing technology—that we can trust the laws of logic. We can trust the laws of nature. We can trust the uniformity of nature. ~Ken Ham

 
          There are real problems in the world. There are real, knowable facts in the world. Let’s accept those and talk about how we might approach our problems differently. Let’s move on from there. If the Republican Party and the conservative movement and conservative media are forced to do that by the humiliation they were dealt last night, we will all be better off as a nation. ~Rachel Maddow

 
          Liberals don’t believe there is such a thing as “fact” or “truth.” Everything is a struggle for power between rival doctrines. ~Ann Coulter

 
          Are Newton’s laws correct? Well, we know Newton’s laws are not fundamental. We know that quantum mechanics is more fundamental. We know that relativity is a more fundamental theory. But Newton’s laws happen to work incredibly well over a large range of parameters. And that is to say we can send a man to the moon based on Newton’s laws. So for that purpose, they are correct. That doesn’t mean that it’s the ultimate reality, if you want to say it that way. ~Dr. Lisa Randall

 
          “How are you?”
          “I’m doing good! You?”
          “Fine, fine.”
          “How’re the kids?”
          “They’re loving school. Jake’s playing T-ball now, and we’re having a lot of fun with that.”
          “That’s great!”
          “Are you still doing… social media, yeah?”
          “Yup. I’m still mostly working from home, so that flexibility is great. I can do it when I want, where I want. It’s pretty ideal.”
          “Hey, I need to head out. But it was really good running into you!”
          “Yeah, man.”
          “You should come over sometime.”
          “Yeah! Maybe next week?”
          “I’ll plan on it.”

 
          Deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance. ~Oscar Wilde

 
          “I’ll pray for you.”

 
          “I love you.”

 
          Turns out it’s a myth. An urban legend perpetuated because it’s good for you. It gets kids to brush their teeth, reduces sugar intake. Establishes good habits.

Josh deLacy

NPR called Josh deLacy (’13) “a modern-day Jack Kerouac” after he hitchhiked 7,000 miles across the United States, and a few dozen surprised drivers told him he didn’t smell bad. Since that experience, he found homes in the Pacific Northwest, the Episcopal Church, and the post calvin. Josh deLacy’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in places such as The Emerson Review, Front Porch Review, and Perspectives. His website: joshdelacy.com

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