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Münchhausen by Proxy

In a splendid manor house at Bodenwerder, two aged men relaxed over a pitcher of warm ale, relishing their retirement.

“Well, Hieronymous my friend, we’ve certainly earned the right to do something with our time,” said Gottfried, “what shall we do?  Maybe some traveling?”

Hieronymous slowly sipped from his mug and with a twinkle in his eye turned to his old comrade and said rather blandly, “I should think I’d like to return to Ceylon… yes, I think I’d like that, to see how my old friend Max is doing… he was the Governor’s brother, you know.”

Gottfried, astonished at his friend’s casual remark, shouted, “When on earth did you visit Ceylon?”

“Gottfried,” replied Hieronymous, “have I never told you of the time I was attacked by the lion there, only to be saved from death by a 40’ crocodile?  Well then!  So there I was…”

When Baron Hieronymous Münchhausen died on February 22, 1797, it was the end of a teller of tall tales, but not of a liar.  The Baron in his lifetime was actually deeply hurt by the unauthorized publication of his stories, meant merely for amusement, as his name became synonymous with “Liar.”  His actual tales of heroism and intrigue today garner little attention.  It’s the lies we crave, for they tell us what we want to hear, even when we know we are being lied to.

Mark Twain remarked that a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.  Fortunately, most of the better liars have been harmless, or at least harmless to most of their betters.  But in this age of rapid communication and headline news, today’s pseudo-Münchhausens have become more than harmless storytellers, they have become our elected leaders.  Lies, lies, lies, and more lies.


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