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The executive stepped to the lectern, his stomach churning with nerves and the remnants of last night’s authentic Mexican food. Wonderful flavors. Wonderful and punishing, that is. This moment was shaping up to be a repeat of that theme. Investors, …...

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Filed Under , on October 27th, 2018

Imaginative Cookies

By Seth Kabala

The executive stepped to the lectern, his stomach churning with nerves and the remnants of last night’s authentic Mexican food. Wonderful flavors. Wonderful and punishing, that is. This moment was shaping up to be a repeat of that theme. Investors, the public, the press–if he could convince them the board had the internal control and governance problems fixed, he’d keep his job.

Option A: public adulation. Option B: unemployed and possibly imprisoned.

After the latest exposes on the company were published in the major dailies, accusations of malfeasance and violation of fiduciary duties were swirling like the smell of manure hovering in the air on an Iowa country road. No matter how hard you tried, if you were going in that direction, you were going to get some on you.

In the seconds between when he faced the press corps, and their questions/accusations/missiles started flying at him, he remembered something a wise philosopher had said to him the night before: the difference between telling the truth and telling a believable lie is imagination.

He returned to present, opened the door to his right brain, and started painting a picture.

 * * *

Ella was playing a word scramble game on her iPod called Word Cookies. The game gives you four letters and various sets of blank spaces, ranging from two to four spaces in each set, in which to place the letters and form words. To select words, you drag your finger between the possible letters, located on a plate at the bottom of the screen, to form an unbroken line on the screen. When you lift your finger, if your line forms a word, the word will appear in the set of the same size.

Ella was stuck, so I offered to help. The letters were IELM. One of them was extra. I determined this to be the M, which left the answer obvious to me, but not wanting to give it away, I decided to give her hints. The following conversation ensued:

Me: When you’re fibbing and not telling us the truth, what’s that called?

Ella: Imagination?

This goes along with the bedtime activity in which we’ve been engaging lately: watching funny videos on YouTube. The kids like cat videos, fail vids, and generally any kind of multi-clip funny mash-up. Their latest favorite pick from the pile is smart-alec kids. Here are five of the best ones we’ve seen:

1. Girl (11 or 12) opens a birthday present. Training bras. She jumps around, excited. A man in the background speaks up. “You don’t need that, man.” he says. “And you don’t need cigarettes,” she says. “So we all have our differences.”

2. Girl (3 or 4), looking at an Alexa device, says, “Alexa.” Waits two seconds, then turns to the camera and says, concern rippling through her voice, “She’s dead!”

3. “My life is ruined,” says a girl (3 or 4). “Why?” the camera operator says. “Because I’m hungry,” girl says, sounding as though someone ate the last bowl of ice cream on earth.

4. “Don’t take it. Don’t take it!” A little girl (2 or 3) says when an adult tries to pry a spatula (presumably smeared with cookie dough) from her grip. Pause. Girl looks at camera, teeth barred, and says, “You might get hurt.”

5. “Listen, I don’t take sassy girls in the store with me,” Mom says to her girl (3 or 4) who’s sitting in a car-seat. “I don’t take naughty mommies in the store either,” the girl says,” arms akimbo in a mini power pose.

These kids all have one thing in common: quick wit. This would help them survive in prison, but why go that route? Seems a lot easier to surrender the spatula than to hold on ’til the bitter end and wind up in the pokey. But what do I know? Maybe that cookie dough was of the gods?

I don’t advocate lying and calling it imagination, unless you like having zero professional reputation, one choice of living arrangement (12 x 12 cell), one choice of paint color (dirty beige), and eating food that looks like a reincarnation of The Blob. I do, however, think this has opened an interesting psychological discussion. It takes imagination to lie, but the end sucks. How far do you take the imagination game?

If you win, you can paint your walls whatever color you choose.

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Seth Kabala

About: Seth Kabala
Seth is an entrepreneur, writer, and musician. He lives with his wife and three children in Portland, OR.

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