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"Green Apples"

	I am thinking of  my earliest memory of a spanking, and I don't mean one or
two gentle swats on the buttocks, but a  real "licking," as it was called.
It had to do with the question of whether I, at age 5, and a neighbor kid,
age 4, had or had not eaten green apples from that big tree in the open
field down the street  "No, we didn't eat any green apples," I said.
	But the circumstantial evidence, as it would be called nowadays, was
incontrovertible.  Chunks of undigested green apples in the vomit and the
loose bowels movements of both kids had the adults quite convinced.  So,
they persisted, "Did you eat green apples?"
	After a little while, I broke down.  "Oh, yes!  I remember.  We DID eat
green apples."  That's when the spanking took place -- not for eating green
apples, but for lying about it.
	The lesson was planted early, and its many implications grew.  "Oh, what a
tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!"  It became obvious
that it was simply easier to tell the plain truth, tell what really
happened.  Otherwise, one has to remember, "Well, what did I say before?
What did I tell her then?  What did I tell him the other time?  How can I
weave all these falsehoods into a story that makes sense?"  I had not yet
heard that magic phrase, so useful  to persons in high places later,
"Plausible deniability."  Maybe the phrase hadn't been invented yet.
	A comic book depicted a nasty ugly criminal, put on the witness stand in
court.  They asked him, "Do you solemnly swear --"
	He interrupted.  "Swear?  Sure!" -- and  then followed all those symbols
which cartoonists still use to symbolize words so bad we can't print them.
We have to insert these symbols instead -- !@#$%&*&%$#@!  I remember asking
the adults, "Why do they want him to swear like that?"  No, they meant
taking an oath, promising to tell the truth.
	Well, aren't we supposed to tell the truth all the time, and not just in
court? I wondered.  I found a Bible verse on oath-taking, that put it very
plainly.  "Let your yes be yes and  your no be no; anything more than this
comes from evil."  I found out that Quakers and others do not take oaths at
all, but "solemnly affirm" that they tell the truth, including in court.
	In my youth we were taught that Hitler came to power in Germany by telling
astounding lies, telling them over and over; it was called simply The Big
Lie, and he was the Big Liar.  Some years later, when I wasn't quite so
young any more, but still had a youthful view of reality, a hard lesson came
my way.  Our beloved president Eisenhower, Ike whom everybody liked, was
caught in a blatant lie.  "No, we do not do spying.  We are not spying on
the Soviet Union."
	Kruschev caught him red-handed, as we used to say.  "Here's this U-2 pilot
of yours what we shot down over Siberia.  Do you want him back?  Interesting
cameras you have there on that remarkable airplane."  My idealism never ever
fully recovered.
	I spent a summer working in Atlanta, learning the dialect, adapting to new
ways of thinking -- and was struck by how often young people interrupted
their narrations of whatever they were telling me with the interjection, "I
ain't lyin'!"  I never thought they were, until they brought it up!  It's
one of the disadvantages of learning early that it's easier to tell the
truth than not tell the truth -- one assumes that everyone else is doing the
same thing, and they aren't.  From time to time evidence to the contrary
simple piles up until one has to notice it.  "That son-of-a-bitch lied to
me!"  It's always a shock, still.
	So, what brought all this up?  The memory of that spanking, the comic book,
and Hitler and Ike -- why are my thoughts going down this track?  Well, I
think it's because for weeks now the news, so-called, has been pre-empted by
insubstantial unsubstantiated gossip, much of it of malicious intent, about
our current president, all based on the testimony of a known perjurer.  One
sworn affidavit says, "Yes, we did," and another sworn affidavit says, "No,
we didn't."  One or the other is perjury, and the reliability of the witness
and the testimony of that witness are destroyed.  Why all the fascination
about such a non-story?  What news really IS happening somewhere in the
world that we aren't learning about because of this upsetting of basic
	The culmination of this entire train of thought came after we saw the
movie, WAG THE DOG.  The president's publicists hire a Hollywood producer to
provide the news networks with images and stories of a war with Albania,
wherever that is, to distract our attention from a possible scandal
involving the president and a Firefly from Santa Fe, wherever that is.  The
entire war [not unlike the Gulf War, so-called, of five years ago] was a
series of computer screen/TV screen images.  No reality to it, this time, at
all.  Even the weather in which the president's plane lands is selected.
"You want rain, we got rain!" the Hollywood producer tells the president's men.
	There is no reality to any of the "news," no truth to it.  That's the
message.  Such a concept would have been unbelievable, unimaginable, in my
childhood, but it is not now.  We've come a long way since "green apples."
* * *
Copyright © 1998 Harry Willson

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