On Thursday night I had my farewell party, primarily filled with my partner’s co-workers, who have been good companions for the past year. Most of them know that I’m an inveterate liar, so I nevertheless considered announcing to them at the party that actually “the job in Tokyo was a lie and I’m not going, and this dinner party was held to reveal the secret to you.” This would have been doubly brilliant, since I would have used my reputation for deception-jokes to pull the mother of all deception jokes. Unfortunately I didn’t think my skills were up to it and anyway, if I succeeded they probably would have lynched me.
However, during dinner one of my partner’s colleagues, a Japanese-American “half” who speaks perfect English and Japanese – let’s call her Miss Accomplished for the purposes of this story – told me I look like a horse. Unable to let this pass, I responded by pointing out her resemblance to a puffer fish (in Japanese, fugu). This led, naturally, to a discussion of how I quite like puffer fish because I used to keep them. Miss Accomplished asked me where I kept them, and I told her that I kept them when I lived in Shimane Prefecture, three years ago. This is true – I had two very cute little freshwater puffer fish when I lived in Shimane prefecture, and they were cute.
So, then Miss Accomplished made the mistake of indicating surprise at this – presumably because I was in Shimane for only a year and a half, though I don’t know for sure – and asking me why?
To which I responded that Shimane Prefecture has a rule that all male residents under a certain age are required to keep puffer fish, in order to preserve a rare species of local puffer fish that is endangered. Miss Accomplished was stunned at this revelation, and asked me for more details about the law, whether all men have to keep them, etc. My partner watched all of this with mild amusement, since it was patently obvious what I was doing. Eventually, once I’d led Miss Accomplished far enough up the garden path to have her up to her neck in fertilizer, I revealed that the whole thing was a lie and Miss Accomplished, up until then thoroughly and completely taken in, slapped me.
It was worth it. So how do I rate this lie?
Degree of Difficulty: Given we had just been talking about how I’m a liar, and were surrounded by people who should know better, Miss Accomplishment herself knows I’m a liar, and was sober, and I was doing this in Japanese, I would give this a degree of difficulty of 4.5. However, I think Miss Accomplished might be religious, which indicates a natural susceptibility to bullshit, so I’m downgrading it to a 4.
Degree of Preposterousness: I think this is actually a pretty preposterous lie. It’s inconceivable that a government would try and pass such a law, could if they did, or would get anyone to follow it. But it’s particularly preposterous that it would only apply to men. So I rate this a 4.5.
Degree of Success: Completely believed, but she didn’t leave the scene unaware of the lie, so 4 out of 5.
Overall Rating: 17 out of 25. A good effort.