I’ve always had a certain amount of admiration for people who can, despite all logical evidence to the contrary, deny the obvious. The flat-earthers who insist that the pictures of a very rotund Earth have all been faked by NASA; the 1980’s record industry reps who blandly kept repeating that Boy George was a heterosexual; even the Bushites who still believe that weapons of mass destruction did, in, fact, exist in Iraq (even though it is now painfully obvious that, if Iraq had actually possessed any WMDs, they would have had to have been small enough to be featured as the newest tool on the Ronco Pocket Fisherman).
Yes, the stalwart Kennedy/CIA conspiracy theorists, crop circle fanatics and Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie spokespeople have always impressed me with, if not exactly their intelligence, then their dedication. It takes real gumption and fortitude to hold on to your beliefs long after they have been disproved, and while I wouldn’t want those same people performing brain surgery on me, it is still a comfort to know that such simple, uncomplicated souls exist.
Or, at least that’s what I thought until one of them came to live in the same house with me.
When it comes to denying the obvious, my daughter Clementine is second to none. Next to her, the former Iraqi Minister of Information looks like an amateur, and Johnnie Cochrane looks like a beginner. Need someone to stand in front a hundred microphones and claim Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown are in the throes of wedded bliss? Clementine’s your girl.
I first knew that she was going to be a pro at denial when she early on perfected the quintessential sibling cry of: I didn’t do it! (I know: lots of kids can say this with a straight face, but how many of them can, like Clementine, say it convincingly in the two seconds before their younger sibling starts to cry?)
After that coup she then went on to perfect the art of denial in the tough playing fields of the cookie cabinet: once she had successfully pulled off saying “no, I did not eat those cookies” as crumbs flew from her lips, she was ready for the big time, and could, without turning a hair, deny all knowledge of the Clementine tooth-sized bite marks on her brother’s arm.
In fact, it was after witnessing her push her brother off of the couch and then deny it so skillfully that even I began to doubt whether it had really happened that I started to think that maybe she has a career in Hollywood ahead of her; not on the big screen, mind you, but in front of the press microphones. Suddenly, I could see the future, and from where I sit it now seems inevitable that Clementine will someday end up as a Hollywood PR flak; how I dread the prospect of one day turning on the TV in 2025 just in time to catch Clementine earnestly announcing to the world that Robert Downey, jr. has just completed his 112th (and most successful!) stint in rehab.
As you can imagine, this was a rather depressing thought, or at least it was until I considered the alternative: what if, instead of making a career out of denial, she decides to make it a lifestyle? In that case, the best I would have to look forward to is one day seeing her stand in front of the school board with a time line in one hand and a picture of Noah’s Ark in the other, gamely trying to provide scientific evidence for something called “intelligent design”. Yikes–when you look at it that way, even Robert Downey, jr. starts to look good.