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Stretching the truth

Rick Ryckeley's picture

By the time she had called, the purple hue of coming night had already stretched far across the cloudless sky. Stars dotted above provided little light for the lone car in the parking lot and its lone occupant.

She got out and started to check under the hood just as a stiff winter wind blew her coat open, chilling her to the bone. She thought better of it. Climbed back in and locked the door. The second call ended with the same results – no answer.

She blew out the breath she was holding, “Married to a firefighter, but when I need rescuing, where is he?”

So, just how does The Wife’s dead battery, moving a sand pile and a trip to the doctor’s office go together? Now I’ve been accused in the past of stretching the truth a little, but not in this case. This story happened just as set forth. Besides, I’ve learned my lesson. Telling a lie can get you into a whole lot of trouble.

By any other name, a lie is still a lie.

Growing up at 110 Flamingo Street, if any of us kids told a story the punishment was always the same. Bite a bar of Ivory soap and rinse out your mouth. Not once, but twice. Mom said the second time was to give us something to think about.

When it happened to me, I told her I didn’t need to do it twice. I’d thought about it the first time. Dad made me take a third bite. That was the first and last time I talked back to Mom.

Stretching the truth in Old Mrs. Crabtree’s third-grade class got you a one-way trip to Principal Baker’s office. He didn’t want to hear any explanations. You were there because you had been caught in a lie, and just why would he listen to a liar?

Facing the wall, you sat for the rest of the school day. One or two trips are all it took to learn the lesson: tell the truth when Mrs. Crabtree asked you who threw the spitball.
Not that I’m admitting to anything now, mind you. I don’t think the statute of limitation ever runs out on a spitball hurled in a teacher’s classroom – especially when it accidentally lands on her desk.

Some teachers just don’t appreciate poetic license. Mrs. Newsome, my tenth-grade English teacher at Briarwood High School, Home of the Mighty Buccaneers, was a stickler for details.

Not citing the source on a term paper, because you really didn’t have a source to cite because you made the entire paper up , was just such a detail. It would guarantee you an “F” on said made-up paper. When caught, using the excuse you thought the idea of a creative writing class was to be creative – won’t work. Not that I’m admitting anything, mind you.

As you get older, the consequences for telling a lie get even worse.

Tell just one lie to any of your college professors and watch them lose any sense of humor they may have, which by the way they don’t. The code of conduct is instantly triggered. Failing the class, academic suspension, and even being expelled are all possible punishments.

Lie on the witness stand they call it perjury and you’ll go to jail. Tell a lie to your boss, and they call it being unemployed. And the big one, lying to your wife why you’ve come in late and smell like perfume – well, they call that divorce.

After three phone calls and a text message, two hours later The Wife finally got in touch with her husband the firefighter. Seems when she needed her rescue, I was out rescuing others. In the morning we jumped her car off, drove it home where she parked it at the end of the driveway next to a huge pile of sand. The car died once again.

Yep, you guessed it. Jumper cables were too short to reach because the pile of sand was in the way. It only took 30 minutes to move enough sand to get close enough to jump off the car, and to see a sky full of stars once again. Nope it wasn’t night. Some dummy had left the shovel on the ground and I stepped on it. That’s why I went to the doctor.

Afterwards I took The Wife out to a nice dinner to try and make up for not being there in her hour of need, and something else.

I’ve learned a valuable lesson. A four-year battery actually won’t last six years before it leaves your wife stranded in a dark parking lot.

And yes, if asked, I will tell her the truth. A new one I forgot to buy two years ago. I don’t even want to think about what would happen to me if I told a lie to The Wife.

Lying to your wife - what kind of Neanderthal would do that?

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for over 26 years and a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is His book is available at]

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