When my oldest daughter was little, she always held her mouth in a strange way whenever she told a lie. She'd purse her lips together and kind of grit her teeth, and be terribly impressed when I was able to tell her that I knew she wasn't telling me the truth. One of the biggest mistakes I made in parenting was when I pointed this out to her. In only a couple of weeks she was able to control her mouth, and I was left to sort out on my own where fact and fiction resided.
My youngest daughter was another strory altogether. She was a consummate fibber who gave no hint to the fact that what she was telling you wasn't the real truth. In part I think this came from the fact that she was always slightly divorced from reality, preoccupied in her own play world, and pretty much unconcerned and unaffected by what was going on around her. Whatever the reason, when she'd say, "Alex did it," it was with absolute conviction and without a hint that she was the real culprit, other than the fact that she was the one standing there with the stick.
It was only by accident that I discovered a no fail method of detecting her truthfulness. Jokingly, one day I told her that whenever she told a fib she did this funny thing with her mouth. I scrunched my lips to one side and talked out of the side of my mouth, reminiscent of the days when I used to go around imitating Popeye. In reality, Bess had never once done this but, after I showed her, she mocked me and did a perfect imitation. We laughed about it, made some faces, and dropped the subject.
A few days later when I found my makeup on the floor of the girls' room with the mirror of the powder broken, the brush for the blush missing, and the lipstick broken off and crushed in the lid, I immediately confronted Bess, who was often retrieved from behind a locked bathroom door with various shades of eye shadow artfully applied above her eyebrows. She knew she wasn't supposed to get into my makeup, but somehow the locked door separated her from this reality.
"Bess Wolff, have you been in my makeup?" I yelled.
"Alex did it!" she replied indignantly.
I had some good reasons to doubt the liability of Alex, but even better ones to doubt the truthfulness of Bess. It wasn't just the fact that Alex had never been known to get into my makeup, it was the fact that Bess was standing there with both hands clasped tightly over her mouth.
"Bess Wolff, you're not telling me the truth!" I challenged.
"How can you know that?" she demanded.
"Let me see your mouth."
And so it went. In her conviction that I could tell whether she was fibbing by looking at her mouth, she began covering her mouth whenever she lied. In her four year old world, it didn't occur to her that this was a dead giveway. I wasn't about to tell her.
But I am thinking about dropping a note to the top two on the Republican ticket who seem to be doing a pretty good job of fooling people and who remind me a bit of that four year old living in her own little world.
"Dear Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan, You have this tell. It's a little smile, kind of a smirk, every time you talk about a 5 point plan that isn't a plan, the preexisting condtions that will be covered after your repeal of Obamacare (which, by the way, you actually can't repeal on your own), a tax plan that's not mathematically possible, your concern for the 100%..."
And then I'm going to alert everybody to watch their hands.