Mendacity--ain't that lies and lying?

Tennessee Williams,
lame old playwright

Peace and joy, Camper.

The world of arts and letters is full of lies and lying, backs stabbed, and hearts broken. Know why? (Arts and letters—that means books, kiddo; movies and books. Look it up.) Why? Because mendacity and other forms of trickery are some of the most fun you can have with your shoes on.

Surely you understand that tricks make the world go around. What if the serpent in the Garden of Eden hadn’t tricked Adam and Eve? Exactly: nothing would have happened! They would have stood around forever, naked and scratching. The world as you know it would not exist. You and I would not exist.

How about Hansel and Gretel? If Gretel hadn’t pretended to be stupid (“But I don’t know HOW to light the oven, Ms. Witch.”), those kids would have been gone. Poof! Crispy critters. Witch dinner. Think about Br’er Rabbit, about Coyote, about Jack and the Beanstalk. About Annie and Johnson in that silly book Entrapment. Without a trickster, the world doesn’t move, Camper. That’s what I’m talking about.

Think about writers. Stay with me now—you need to know this. A novelist is person who lies to tell a truth. It’s a riddle, isn’t it? A real mystery. Novels, of course, are totally made up. Your Uncle Jerry himself is a total fiction. But here I am writing to you. Still, doesn’t a novel sometimes lead you to think something new, something true? So there you go.

Point is, young person, the Good Lord loves a trickster. Those lousy friends of yours, that guy, that girl, who seemed absolutely fascinating—yes, they’re real stinkers. Oh, I hate them. But you and they make a perfect match. Without someone to BE tricked—that’s you, Camper—all tricking would stop, and the world would come to a screeching halt. You want that on your conscience? I don’t think so. So we need you to keep reading, to keep believing in books and friends and lovers and Your Uncle Jerry. At least, try . . . Come on, tricksters are cute; we like them.

But don’t get me wrong. You’re completely right, too. Those friends of yours, they bear watching. Don’t ever take your eye off them.

Your Uncle Jerry watches all his friends very very closely, the little weasels. The more they talk, the more Uncle Jerry just listens. The more they say yes, absolutely, they’ll do something, the more Uncle Jerry knows they absolutely won’t. The more they say “trust me . . .” well, you get the picture. The Good Lord loves a trickster—mostly because they teach us how to protect ourselves.

Because listen, Camper, the one thing tricksters and back-stabbers don’t ever expect is for you to be wise. They never see that coming. Once you start to EXPECT people to let you down, then you can just smile and nod, and make yourself a little backup plan. And when you do that . . . well, you’ve turned the tables, haven’t you? You’ve become the trickster. How cool is that.

And one last thing. There comes a day when you have a friend (or okay, a parent, maybe a lover), and they say “I will never let you down; I got your back; I am true to you forever,” and hey: it turns out they ARE. That’s the best trick of all.

Molly's wondering if she can trust Rhinehart. Chapter nine is ready.

Joy and peace.