As I do every Thursday night, I was watching Survivor tonight. This season, one of the contestants is 'Coach'. Something has bothered me about Coach since the beginning but I haven't been able to put my finger on it. I thought it was just his arrogance but tonight I finally figured it out. Coach is a pathological liar. I don't mean in the John Lovits on SNL way, I mean in the clinical sense.
I have had the opportunity to know two pathological liars in my life. Both of them had several things in common. They were both very self-assured and arrogant. They had a bravado that they were better than everyone else and nobody could possibly argue that. If you did something well, they always did it better - whether or not they actually could. There was always something not quite right about their stories that was usually just far enough outside the realm of possibility. Not physical possibility but you just couldn't see them in that particular situation. They also told the stories as if they didn't quite believe it themselves.
Sometimes, the lies were outright transparent (like the one who had said he was a highly accomplished martial artist who had been trained by Jackie Chan). If they were called on one of their lies, they always had some excuse or another lie to explain why they couldn't provide any proof (like a severe back injury on another job they probably didn't have that now prevents them from practicing their craft). The thing about their lies, however, was there was often a kernel of truth.
Coach outed himself three times in tonight's episode. The first was the campfire story. The kernel of truth: he probably does kayak and white water rafting. The lies: He was kayaking down the Amazon having been dropped off by a military helicopter (that literally dropped him). He didn't pay anything to hitch a ride on a military transport because he 'pulled a few strings'. He was captured by "indigenous" tribesmen who were "four, four and a half feet tall" with their "bows and arrows drawn." The tribesmen tied him up and beat him severely several times but he managed to slip the bonds, escape and paddle his kayak "like hell" until his hands bled to escape.
Story number two: His morning exercises are an ancient form of martial arts that is only passed down by oral teachings and must be learned directly from the monks in their far Eastern monastery. The kernel of truth: That form of martial arts probably does exist and is probably only taught by monks in a secluded monastery. The lie: That what he was doing was that form of martial arts and that he ipso facto learned it from said monks. It just looked like some form of Tai Chi to me... and not a good one at that (but I didn't see the raw footage of it, just the edited version).
Story number three: The embelishment of the campfire story at Tribal Council. The kernel of truth: There was none. He had to add something for the new audience member (Jeff Probst). The lie: That the event was actually much more horrific than he originally told it and that the tribesment were "staring at [his] ass talking about eating [his] ass."
Do you see what I mean? I believe it is possible that someone could be captured and tortured by a jungle tribe but Coach was not one of them. He's too healthy and well adjusted (if you can call him well adjusted) for something like that to have happened.
And, by the way, Coach, if you just happen to read this, I challenge you to prove me wrong. Send me an email (the link is in the right sidebar), I'll email you my phone number, and you can give me all the sordid details. If you convince me, I'll happily and publicly retract every statement I've made about you in this post.
Addendum: A comment someone left reminded me of one point about pathological liars that I forgot to mention. They believe that what they are telling you is the God's honest truth. I couldn't say for sure but I'd be willing to bet it would pass a polygraph. Oh, yeah, and who wants to bet he's not actually a symphony conductor? (that's one's believable but in light of the other stuff, it is now thrown into serious doubt)