Caffeinated Chronicles: Brian Williams & The Plague of Embellishment

Posted: February 9th, 2015 | Filed under: Culture, Personalities | 1 Comment »

coffee1Have I told you about the time I met the Beatles?

August 12, 1966. International Amphitheater. Chicago. First stop on their last tour ever.

I was with my old pal Moop. His cousin, Ron Britain, née Ron Magel, was a DJ at the Windy City’s WCFL, which was the sponsoring Top 40 station.

His bride Peach sneaked us past security at the artist’s entrance, and we sat in a box on the side of the stage, along with a noted folk singer at the time, Chad Mitchell and his gal, a woman who had been on the cover of Italian Vogue the previous month.

On the way to the box, we were briefly introduced to the Fab Four. As I’ve said through the years, it’s not like McCartney calls to do dinner after his show at the Yum!.

Have I told you that story?

No? Good.

Because, while some of it is true, the punchline is embellishment. Or, what some truthsayers would call “a lie.”

Moop and I did attend that Beatles show. His cousin was a DJ, and one of the show’s emcees, and Peach did slip us past security to a box on the side of the stage. There was a guy, sitting with us, who looked like Chad Mitchell, but whether it was him or not, I wouldn’t know. The lady with him was drop dead gorgeous, but I haven’t a clue whether she was a model, let alone on the cover of a magazine.

And, we never met the Beatles.

Though we stood in a hallway outside their dressing room, when, we were told, they were inside.

So, I dunno, maybe sometime soon thereafter, when trying to hustle a jeune fille in a bar, and the subject of the Beatles came up, I fashioned the scenario, in hopes that such aggrandizement might make her more willing to, as was the joke of the day, come to my place and see my etchings.

At some point soon thereafter, the tall tale became reality in my mind. I could recite it by rote, never for a moment feeling guilty.

It had become the truth.

In those periodic moments of the retelling, I believed I had met the Beatles. I was suffering the Plague of Embellishment.

At some point, years, decades, later, after I had entered a process of rigid self examination, I started to tell the story yet again. This time, for the first time, I caught myself midway, and paused.

“You know,” I told whoever was listening, “I never met the Beatles. But I’ve been telling the tale for years.”

My sense is such falsehoodery comes from a nascent sense of low self esteem. I’m a relatively honest bloke. But one who, for years, felt I needed to spice up my experiences, so I would be more attractive to those I met. I didn’t think you’d like me otherwise.

So, such white lies became part of my modus operandi.

* * * * *

Which confession I relate — and thank you for listening — to try to give some perspective to the current kerfuffle over Brian Williams’ embellishment (lie?) about his wartime experience. And his sighting of a body floating through the French Quarter post-Katrina.

His helicopter apparently was never hit by gunfire.

There were no bodies floating in the Quarter after Katrina, because the Quarter didn’t flood.

Now I haven’t the slightest idea how these embellishments — falsehoods? — manifested themselves in the heretofore heralded NBC anchorman’s mind.

Did it come from that seem spot of inner I’m Not As Good As You that mine did?

Did it come from his waiting for a long while on the fringes of star time anchorman, until Tom Brokaw gave up the seat in front of the camera and behind the microphone?

My guess is it’s some combination of factors that include those. Those embellishments — fabrications? — once told become ingrained, reiterated without second thought. They become reality, the truth as he remembered.

At least they did for me. (The Beatles story wasn’t the only I made up along the way. But, in recent decades, I’ve attempted to recant them one by one, as the words wend their way to my vocal chords for another deceptive recitation.)

So, I believe I understand what happened with Williams. How some emotional need manifested itself in these embellishments — inventions?.

I’m not sure what’s going on in his mind today, as he takes a step back for critical self examination.

I hope he survives the scandal. He’s an engaging fellow, and news anchor.

But his must have credibility has been shattered.

In today’s information-drenched, shark infested social media culture, my guess is he’s toast.

A pity, really.

* * * * *

And, if I’ve told you the story of the time back in the day when I could have chatted up Linda Ronstadt, who was standing by herself, in a relatively empty LA bar, well, that one is true.

I blew that one, damn it.



One Comment on “Caffeinated Chronicles: Brian Williams & The Plague of Embellishment”

  1. 1 Ron Britain said at 10:43 pm on March 15th, 2016:

    This was sent to me and I just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed reading a recap of that night in Chicago with the Beatles. Seems like such a long time ago, doesn’t it? Take care. Ron.

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