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I love getting asked the question “if you had a superpower, what would it be?” It’s not because I’m creative or clever at coming up with superpowers of which no one else has thought. It’s because deep down, I have my own super power. Spiderman has spider powers. Superman has X-Ray vision, can fly, and has super strength. And Batman… well, he’s just super rich. But me? I’m an excellent liar. Maybe there’s something wrong with my moral compass, but I feel no shame in admitting that I am effective at, as God put it circa 3000 B.C., bearing false witness.
To some extent, it is a skill I learned throughout my childhood; lying to teachers about what I was doing in class, forging assignments with my teacher’s red pen handwriting on them because I forgot to turn it in, etc. In another life I would have made a top notch Swiss Banker. I’ve moved past all that, mostly because it’s a lot of effort to be dishonest, but also because I decided it’s not a good look. But the trait is not only learned, it is also inherited.
My parents are currently installing new carpet upstairs in their home, and watching my mother talk to each new contractor, pretending not to know anything about carpet, and juggling several different estimate appointments while deflecting questions about any other contractors involved in the process is like watching Larry Legend in the 1986 Three Point Contest. My dad doesn’t have this gift, which may explain why I became a lawyer like my mother instead of an engineer like my old man.
Let me make clear again that I’ve made a conscious choice not to be that person anymore (who doesn’t hate the shit out of their middle school self?). Professionally, the risks are way too huge in my field. And I have too much respect for my friends and family to lie to them. As Uncle Ben said, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Plus he got shot like 10 minutes after he said that, so by Hollywood rules you have to listen to those words. But there are certain limited occasions when I am able to bring my super powers out of retirement: canceling plans.
If you’re anything like me, you make drunk plans all the time. It’s definitely not the riskiest thing I do when I drink, but it certainly is the most reliable source of Sunday Scaries. Waking up on Sunday morning (or afternoon) and thinking, “goddamn it, did I agree to get drinks with Jeremy this evening? I haven’t talked to him in well over a year and I don’t even like the dude,” makes me more anxious than Matthew McConaughey in a revolving door. So what’s a guy to do? Cancel the plans, obviously. And this is where the magic happens. But keeping Uncle Ben in mind, this is only something I do to people I know as acquaintances or less. If you cancel on your friends often, they probably won’t remain friends for long.
There is a direct correlation with the severity of my hangover and the likelihood I cancel plans, but you probably could have guessed that. My go-to move if the plans are with someone that I don’t see very often is that I’m sick. I have the flu, strep throat, any number of ailments you can find on WebMD that are serious enough to confine you to bed. Just last week I made plans with a former flame to get drinks (and one of the more attractive ones to boot) but then one of my close friends invited me to day drink instead. Poor Mr. Winger came down with the flu and would hate for Maura to catch it from him.
It gets trickier when canceling plans with people you see fairly often. You can’t use the sickness excuse because you’re likely to run into them, or at least someone who speaks to them on a regular basis. My favorite move here is the “double book.” Just tell the cancelee you accidentally double booked and ask for a rain check. Just ensure the cancelee knows they are lower on your priority list than the imaginary double booking you just made. For example, canceling on a coworker on or below your pay level in favor of “dinner with your parents” is acceptable. But canceling on a Yankees game with a junior partner in favor of a “hot date” probably won’t score you a lot of brownie points.
The older I get the less I drink (or, more accurately, I try to drink less) and the less I make plans that I end up wanting to bail on. So hopefully this problem goes away without me having to make any effort to improve myself and my willingness to follow through with plans I don’t feel like following through on. But I doubt it..
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