THE BODY ECCENTRIC YOUR ANATOMY EXPLAINED
pensively kneading his whiskered chin. “I
think they all wanted to be caught. In fact,
I think getting caught is the whole point.”
“That’s ridiculous!” I countered. “You
think Madoff wants to spend the rest of his
life in prison, or that Spitzer wanted to resign
his governorship in disgrace, or that John
Thain planned to end his career at Merrill
Lynch being known as the guy who gave up
his golden parachute for a platinum potty?”
“I think that men in our culture spend
their entire lives trying to be perfect,”
Leyner responded. “Perfect students, perfect
boyfriends, perfect employees, and perfect
husbands. We devote our lives to being these
paragons of virtue who want nothing more
than to toil indefatigably for our families
and ensure their well-being and happiness.
But unfortunately, none of us is perfect. We
are flawed from the very beginning, from
the time we’re little boys. And we harbor
“This is called ‘original guilt,’ ” he continued.
“We have the guilt, but most of us don’t have
the commensurate sin to go along with the
guilt. So we can’t purge the guilt. We need
sin. We seek it out in order to have something
to confess, something to beg forgiveness for.
Then—at that news conference, with the
dutiful, long-suffering wife at our side—we
finally achieve that complete catharsis, that
great cleansing psychic enema we’ve needed
since we were toddlers.”
Leyner paused proudly, allowing a moment
for his words to register.
I turned to look at our wives, and they
looked as though they were about to vomit.
I quickly grabbed Leyner by the scruff of his
neck, excused ourselves from the table, and
dragged him to the bathroom.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” I
demanded. “I didn’t want to attack you in
front of your wife, but I think you’re turning
into a pathological liar. You know they’ve
found evidence that there’s a neurological
basis to lying, cheating, and manipulating?
Maybe we could just pop you into the MRI
and watch your prefrontal cortex glow.”
“I love it!” Leyner exclaimed. “We’ll use
that in the reality show! Look, dude, this
isn’t about lying, it’s about confessing. Men
need to confess. We need to throw ourselves
on the ground and writhe around and admit
what awful monsters we’ve become and beg
for forgiveness. It’s our way of collapsing, of
checking out. It’s the successful man’s route
back to the womb, back to innocence. It’s
like the end of those old monster movies,
when the mutant morphs back into the
handsome, charming suitor.”
“Oh. Can I confess something?” I asked.
“Please,” said Leyner, obviously feeling a
degree of satisfaction that I’d engaged him on
“I have to confess that you’re a pompous
ass. Let’s get back to the table.”
Leyner had a radiant, almost rabid look on
“That’s fantastic,” he said. “Do you have an
Well, Lucy, the rest of the night is
irrelevant. These are desperate times, but
where there’s light, there’s hope. From an
evolutionary perspective, in primates, a
larger brain is correlated with an increase in
deceitful behavior. Young children tend to
be very poor liars, but by age 10, they become
more adept. So duplicity and deceit may be
hardwired in our brains. And some of us more
SOMEDAY WE MIGHT BE ABLE TO SCAN A PERSON’S
BRAIN AND KNOW FOR SURE WHETHER HE’S FULL
OF SHIT OR TELLING THE TRUTH.
At that moment, a toilet flushed and a
portly Korean gentleman emerged from a
stall and bowed to Leyner. “He’s right. You
are a pompous ass. Now, I need to confess
something: I’m the owner of this restaurant.
This place is a money pit. I’m bankrupt. You
see all those people out there? They’re all
family and friends, and they’re eating for free.
This isn’t 14th-century Joseon dynasty court
cuisine. The caviar is from Costco, the chef is
some Albanian guy who lives in Queens, and
that signature sauce we use? It’s Big Mac sauce
with a splash of kimchi juice.”
He bowed again. “I am deeply ashamed.”
than others. Pathological liars tend to have an
increase in their prefrontal white matter and a
decrease in their gray/white ratio. This might
mean that someday we’ll be able to scan a
person’s brain and know for sure whether he’s
full of shit or telling the truth.
But please keep in mind that, although
there may be a biological basis for deceit,
it doesn’t apply to our whole gender. Don’t
lump us all together. For every Madoff, there
is a Gates. For every Blagojevich, an Obama.
Good ones are out there. Just try to avoid
repentant men emerging from restroom stalls,
and above all, steer clear of writers.
THE ART OF THE APOLOGY
Damage control for when you’ve done (or said) something you regret
The truth hurts, but not as much as being caught in a lie. “When you lie, you’re
almost always digging a deeper hole for yourself,” says Gary Seigel, PhD, author
of The Mouth Trap. So does that mean you should always come clean? Most of
the time, yes. “Very seldom will you resurrect yourself from a lie, theft, or
confrontation with a client at work,” says Seigel. But if you’ve already dug your
own grave, here are three reputation savers.
TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILIT Y KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
“If you’ve missed a deadline, Just because an apology
you’ve missed a deadline. worked with your wife doesn’t
Admit it, acknowledge it, and mean it will work with your
recognize the problem,” says children, boss, or coworkers.
Seigel. Or if your wife asks why “Men don’t always think things
you’re late, don’t say you were through ahead of time. It’s
at the office if you were having important in any relationship
drinks with friends. “A piece of to find out what is truly
the puzzle might be discovered irreparable,” says Seigel.
later on, which can lead to
DO IT IN PERSON
Unless you’re fighting with
someone overseas, it’s never
wise to apologize via e-mail.
“It’s impersonal and cold, and
you can’t see the person’s
reaction,” says Seigel. “In a live
conversation, you can tell if your
apology is accepted.”