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Tall tales 

The setting is a Carrboro restaurant on a Friday when everybody else is out of town. Our favorite table--the bar--is occupied by only three other people: a guy about our age courting a somewhat younger couple he'd chanced upon. They formed a triangle.

The guy is saying as we sit down, "The Boxster goes really fast. The cops around here are terrible. In Dallas you can do a hundred in a 65 zone." I whisper into my husband's ear, Liar. Berkeley looks around the empty room and I say, That guy right there. Then the husband of the couple asks if the Porsche is out in the parking lot, and the liar says, "Nah, I sold it. I'm moving to Tampa."

Talk switches to his nifty boat, a 28-foot speedster great for island-hopping. You just drive to the dock and take off. "We went kayaking in Pamlico Sound," offers the wife of the couple. "Oh," he says, after which he suddenly no longer owns the fast boat. Then there is some talk about why Tampa is better than Miami.

The liar tells them he's lived everywhere. "Europe, Asia, every continent with the exception of Antarctica." He has two undergraduate degrees and a law degree. He has two dogs and five cats and a bird that later gets upgraded to a cockatiel.

Our food arrives. We can't stop listening, whispering to each other in a show of romantic detachment and kicking each other when our mouths are full, going "Mmm!" with increasing boldness. The trio never glances in our direction.

While Berkeley is in the bathroom the liar starts talking about the local music scene. He doesn't go to the Cat's Cradle because he's heard all the bands that play there. The opening acts at The Cave are OK. Berkeley gets back in time to hear the liar say he saw The Beatles in Shea Stadium and has been to every Rolling Stones concert in the United States. He saw the Rat Pack perform in Carnegie Hall when Sammy Davis was too sick to join them. The liar challenges the couple to top his three favorite recording artists of all time: Sinatra, Streisand and Jimmy Buffett. Berkeley comes close to shooting beer out of his nose.

Then something disturbing takes place. The liar gets the two of them to confirm that they were eating out of his hand. "Some people think I'm a snob," he says.

"Oh no," they assure him. "You're not a snob."

That makes it OK to raise the bar. Dante's Inferno at the age of 12; thought it was stupid. Read the entire Encyclopaedia Brittanica from A to Z, loves Joyce and Chaucer, currently re-reading Mein Kampf. Brought up Catholic. Wife is taking care of her dying mother in Minnesota. He doesn't take care of himself. If anything happens to him, the dogs will probably eat the cats.

I whisper to Berkeley, He's running out of material.

Check, please. We explode out the door with pent-up observations. Berkeley declares on the sidewalk, "Nobody loves Joyce and Chaucer." Half a block later, "Streisand and Buffett?!?" Almost home, "That guy does not have pets." Striding to keep up I answer, "He doesn't have a wife."

We had spent the last hour acting like lovers, and listening to lies.

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