Columns » Bob Lancaster

Forked-tongue resume


Everybody else lies, whether it's presidents lying about BJs or WMDs, or newspaper reporters making up characters and quotes, or big-name historians big-time plagiarizing, or home-decor mavens blue-light lying about insider trading, or unctuous televangelists asserting that when they talk to God, God actually talks to them back. And probably nobody ever told these coaches that resumes are no place for wishful thinking. List only real accomplishments and not the fictional ones. How were they supposed to know? Coaches as a rule aren't too swift anyway. They can do the X's and O's but the other 24 letters usually give them fits. With recruiting and two-a-days and such, they can't be bothered excessively about mythological creep in the paperwork. Maybe if we raised their meager salaries … . I have to admit, though, that this issue of strict resume factuality has served as a kind of wake-up call for ol' moi. I can identify with hyperbolic coaches in a way that I can't with forked-tongue presidents or Pat Robertson or Martha Stewart. I know what coaches are thinking when they lie on their resumes, and I know they don't mean anything by it. They're thinking: OK, I really need this job, and I can do it if they'll just give me the chance, but they won't give me the chance against all this classy competition without a little costuming of the old vita; and then, after I've got the job and have shown them I can do it, who'll care? We can all look back at the fanciful resume and laugh. That's your practical coaching mentality, and it works just fine as long as it doesn't cross paths with one of these pain-in-the-butt sticklers for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Alas it usually does cross paths with one of them, and you just don't have much of a chance in an encounter when your opponent is whamming you mercilessly over the head with an abstract ideal. All of which has got me in the notion of fessing up at long last. Not that I think the Arkansas Times might fire me after all this time for some my youthful resume stretchers; but I wouldn't put it past some of those meaner publications I've worked for to go back and fire me retroactively, or posthumously, as Wally Hall might say. Also, as you get older, you just want to stop running and hiding. You've lived too long as a big fat phony and don't want to die as one. All right, then, here are some of the revisions: The "Ivy League" education credentials have to do with the South Arkansas poison variety of ivy, and consist of a few undergraduate classes at a college whose mascot was a mule named Optimaggie. A true fact. It was a college where even the rocket science wasn't rocket science. But it gave me to understand how ignorant I was, which is the only thing any college is good for, so I can't complain and really had no reason to pretend resumerrily otherwise, to lie, in other words. As to the other claimed accomplishments: Well, I had nothing to do with developing the Big Bang theory; mine, now forgotten, was called It Blowed Up Real Good. My role in mapping the human genome was considerably more modest than my resume indicated. I didn't really invent the Heimlich Maneuver, nee the Lancaster Maneuver, and then give it gratis to a guy named Heimlich because he was down on his luck. I didn't fly near as many of those high-level secret missions for the Alabama National Guard with my co-pilot George W. Bush as both he and I might have led you to believe. Stephen Hawking might not have got it totally right about black holes, but he came a right smart closer than I did. Gorbachev deserves more of the credit than I do for glasnost; but I'm still 50-50 with Al Gore on inventing the Internet. Yes, the greatest genius of the 20th Century was whoever invented the TV remote, but no, twarn't ol' moi. Twarn't me whistling the opening Andy Griffith theme either. The elder Leakeys didn't invite me on their farewell Olduvai dig, and Jacques Cousteau didn't personally welcome me aboard for the Calypso's last big sea hunt. I hardly even knew Jacques Cousteau, and never understood what he meant by such expressions as "Mon Dieu!" and "Merde!" when a shark would bite his air hose in two. One measure of how little I knew him was that I always got him confused with Jules Verne, and somehow got both of them confused with Walt Disney, who deserved more credit for the theme-park idea than I gave him in my resume. I didn't know Walt Disney very well either. And the story about my telling him I'd go along with Disneyland in California if we could call the one in Orlando Lancaster World -- just another resume fabrication. Our only real communication, in fact, was when I wrote asking about free passes and got the "In your dreams" letter back from an underling, maybe Roy. I'm just getting started with this but feel better already. Good therapy. You conscience-stricken coaches ought to give it a try.

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