ALL of us. From priest to prophet to the most podunk and pedestrian among us - we all lie.
White lies to keep a surprise hidden. Lies of omission because we feel guilty or know that uttering truths would hurt someone and achieve nothing. Lies to make us seem more - you know, "the fish was THIS big" lies. And flat out, we-stepped-in-it-cover-our-asses lies.
We're human. It's what we do.
That's not to say that we also don't put a premium on telling the truth. We absolutely do. And raised with enough positive reinforcement, consequences that teach lessons not fear, and the daily reminder that we are our word - well, we do pretty good as adults.
Personally, we have raised our kids to understand that whatever truth they tell us may not make us happy, but our reaction will be far more severe if we find out they have lied.
Ryan Lochte apparently missed that lesson along the way.
It has been one week since he and his swimming cohorts on the USA Olympic team went out in Rio, got raucously drunk, behaved abysmally, and then dove into a campaign of CYA - Cover Your Ass.
Lochte led the liars brigade - lamenting to his mommy how they had been pulled over by fake police, robbed at gunpoint, hell, that gun had been pressed to his head. But they managed to get safely back to the Olympic digs and were unharmed.
Pressed to his head. As Steve Martin said in Leap of Faith:
His mother took to social media. And news media picked it up and ran with it. After all, it had everything: handsome medalists, intrigue, life-or-death threats, and a happy ending. Perfectly packaged to sell to a global audience already tuned in daily for the world's greatest sporting events.
And that is where it all began to take on the scent of the shorts worn by a French race walker
See, had this happened to you or me or any other John or Jane Doe, it would have stayed a small entry on our FB walls, a tale to tell at Starbucks over a latte, an unprovable story from our travels abroad. Sure to titillate the cul-de-sac set who would have no way of vetting our tale.
But Ryan Lochte isn't us. He is not just an anonymous traveler. He is an arrogant, well known, Olympic medalist. His nightlife cronies, while not quite the same in name recognition (James Feigen, Gunnar Bentz, and Jack Conger - who?), are medalists who were also representing their country at the Games. So their story, its import, its obvious implications for the reputation of the host city and country got swift attention from authorities.
As video emerged from a gas station, then accounts from those who worked there, as well as the driver who had ferried the drunken tadpoles that night - the story began to take on a distinctly Swiss Cheesian look. There were holes everywhere.
As authorities, concerned over how this incident reflected on their city, kept digging, it became quickly apparent that the story being reported, the story now being actively bandied about on TV by Lochte, was nothing but the lies of some drunken, embarrassed, CYAers.
They did not have victims on their hands, they had the fabled Ugly Americans personified.
Two of the men were pulled from their flight home and taken to the police station, their passports temporarily confiscated. Feigen was also still in Rio and had his passport taken - he has since agreed to pay $11,000 to charity as way of apology. Lochte had already run home to the States and was lighting up the TVs telling his tale of heroism and balls - he refused to get on the ground, backtalked the robber who was pressing the gun to his head.
Oh, so Dirty Harry, Ryan.
Well, faced with very real consequences, Feigen, Bentz, and Conger began backstroking backpedaling and quickly gave up the silver haired ghost - coming clean to authorities, and implicating Lochte as the anchor in the 4x400 Liars Relay. But let's be real here, in the face of videos showing them actively vandalizing the gas station restroom, pissing on a wall, and being belligerent - the truth was pretty much their only fallback.
Lochte, safely ensconced here at home, took a deep breath and dove in deeper, defending his story to Matt Lauer, although subtly altering some details. Suddenly they had not been pulled over, there was the addition of the gas station, and the gun - held by a security guard to dissuade them from escaping until police could arrive - had only been pointed his direction, not pressed to his head. It was all so "confusing" and "scary."
Fast forward a few more days, and a lot more truth telling and fall out and Lochte was beginning to drown in his own pool of lies. (I hazard he also saw any potential endorsements circling the toilet bowl - integrity being somewhat important to sponsors.)
He released a statement via his Twitter account. Still not admitting he lied, just acknowledging he had not been as "candid" as he could have been.
Well, with everyone from Joe on the Twitter street corner to TV's beloved and typically benign Al Roker calling bullshit hard and fast, Lochte sat down with Matt Lauer (who had softballed the initial interview) again. Last night he owned up to having "over exaggerated" the story. He felt badly about abandoning his teammates to face the music that had quickly been turned up to 11 in Rio.
OK, Ryan, let me help you out here.
The words you are looking for are I LIED.
That's it. That's all. We all know it. Hell, the world knows it. Even your mom must surely now know it.
YOU LIED. And then LIED SOME MORE. And then, even when faced with the cold hard video truth, LIED HARDER.
And here is why it's a problem, Ryan (and all Lochte apologists). You are not a child, you are a 32 year old man. OK, ok, man-child. Indulged, ass kissed, privileged, and blatantly in love with your own image. You were in these Olympics to represent your country - not just in the water, Ryan. You were a high profile guest in another country. You were supposed to be setting an example.
To whom much is given, much is expected, Ryan.
Yes, yes, yes, we all know you have had the angst and frustration of having to swim in the monstrous wake of Michael Phelps all these years. That couldn't have been easy for one whose ego is as big as is yours. The spotlight has its appeal - we get it.
But lying and making yourself a hero while running down an entire country is not the path to glory. Or endorsement money. Pride and copious lying goeth before a belly flop, dear Ryan. And the flop you are now experiencing? Well, it's going to hurt when you hit because you actively drained the pool yourself.
Telling the truth isn't glamorous. Hell, the truth is often pretty damned boring, It can also be pretty damned damning if you have been up to no good, as is the conjecture about the night preceding your story telling. But the truth will also fade a story much quicker than the lies bandied to cover it.
You have ruined your name, ruined your brand, have lost any perception as a role model, Wheaties won't touch you (hell, Fiber One won't touch you and they're in the literal business of producing crap) and shown the world exactly who you are - a 32 year old privileged athlete who still continues to choose swimming up the shit creek of his own lies instead of just diving headfirst into the truth.
But take heart, two things have come of this - if there were a podium for liars and another for cautionary tales parents tell their children about the value of the truth, you would currently be standing on top of both being decorated in gold.
#GOLDMEDALINGUILT #BIGGESTLOSER #LOCHTEMESSMONSTER #ROKERCALLEDIT