Honest to a fault by
(166 Stories)

Prompted By Honesty

Loading Share Buttons...

/ Stories

I’ve always been honest. To a fault. I’ve never lied about anything — my age, my height, my IQ, my sexual prowess, or why, as a teenager, I threw up in my mother’s rose bushes, stuff like that.

...all fiction writers are liars.

When my friend and I got stopped for driving his dad’s pickup around town after midnight, I told our town cops, “Oh, no, I’m just too young to have a license.” There, honesty was the best policy. They let us go. Maybe it was because I wasn’t driving and my friend’s dad was the head of the town council. Who can say?

And of course I simply withheld the truth about whether or not I’d had sex lots of times before the first time I had sex. Why waste words with the comely, worldly-wise teenager from New York City, who had lured me into the forest behind the summer camp. I never understood why, after our passionate and bucolic tryst, she said, “I knew it.”

“Knew what?” I asked.

“Never mind,” she said as she stepped over my pine-needled and satiated body and slid into her bell bottoms. What could she possibly have meant?

When I started drinking at a local bar in California, I never told anybody I was 20. I never told the bartender anything except really good jokes like the one about the farmer who grew the biggest berry in the world and wanted it insured. Or the one about the horse that walked into a saloon.

I sure was surprised though, when I trooped into the same bar with my older pals and they told the bartender that we were celebrating my 21st birthday (the drinking age back then; I don’t know what the drinking age is now. I haven’t been carded in a while. That’s the truth, too.) The bartender threw me out, even though I really was 21 now.

Then there was the time I got caught shoplifting a torque wrench from Sears Roebuck. Craftsman tools were the absolute best and you could only get them at Sears, so what else could I do? I told the security guard that the tools were for the revolution. I felt so wronged when he called the pigs who took me down to the precinct station and booked me. Didn’t they understand that the people’s passion for radical social change was burning like a prairie fire and that we had to seize the time?

I could go on. However, suffice it to say that through my whole, long life, honesty has always paid off for me. It’s that simple. Of course, I must confess that I am prone to writing fiction and, if you think about it for a hot New York minute, you have to conclude that all fiction writers are liars. And that’s the truth.

#   #   #


Lying, thieving writers





Profile photo of Charles Degelman Charles Degelman
Writer, editor, and educator based in Los Angeles. He's also played a lot of music. Degelman teaches writing at California State University, Los Angeles. 

Degelman lives in the hills of Hollywood with his companion on the road of life, four cats, assorted dogs, and a coterie of communard brothers and sisters.

Visit Author's Website

Characterizations: funny, right on!, well written


  1. Suzy says:

    Wow, I love your story, Charlie! I almost believe you when you say you have never lied about anything. But I’m wondering whether that torque wrench incident ever happened or whether it just made a good yarn. (You needed it for the revolution! Perfect!) I have read your two novels and they seem full of truth to me. And yet your delightful last paragraph cautions us not to believe anything a fiction writer writes. Thanks for an entertaining read!

  2. John Shutkin says:

    Loved this, Charles, with all the wicked turns between truth and fiction. Reminds me of that teaser they would throw at you in logic class: “I never told a lie. Except this one.” Suffice it to say that I will always carefully consider the truthfulness of what you have to say, regardless of how you choose to characterize it. But at least I know it will be interesting.

    As an aside, that line “I knew it,” is priceless. Whether true or not.

  3. Laurie Levy says:

    So often, what passes for truth is simply not saying anything to contradict another’s impression. A very clever take on honesty, Charles,

  4. Thanks for the chuckles…great story!

  5. Risa Nye says:

    The wrench, though…made me laugh out loud. Great to read about your lifelong devotion to truthiness.

  6. Betsy Pfau says:

    Love it, Charlie! Particularly the girl who said, “I knew”. Too funny (or humiliating?) I also love the observation that all fiction writers are professional liars. Good observation.

Leave a Reply