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Moseyin’ Along

Remember This Childhood Trick?

May 1, 2015
Westfield Republican

Take a trip with me back to those long-ago days when we were kids. Remember how we thought we could make any claim we wanted, so long as we kept our fingers crossed behind our backs. It was the universal dodge, accepted in the world of kids, that seemed to allow us to lie with impunity.

I did some research into this "fingers crossed" practice and learned the action dates back to the early Christians. Since their church was outlawed, these believers had to be careful not to reveal themselves in public. Thus, the sign was used among them to identify those who followed the teachings of Christ.

Over time, the crossed fingers sign became a form of protection against reprisals for "little white lies." It was thought that God would forgive such slips if one made the sign of the cross. In order to hide the sign from others, the hand with the crossed fingers was held behind the back.

I recall us kids used the protection routinely, thinking it would help us to avoid detection.

In recent years, I've noticed many of the folks we consider "grown-ups" have continued to use the technique in adulthood to cover a lie. For politicians, entertainers, car salesmen, lawyers, even couples at the altar, it's become a fingers-crossed world.

Remember Lance Armstrong, the bicycling hero? He won the grueling Tour de France an amazing seven times. He was asked repeatedly if he had used performance-enhancing drugs. With straight face and convincing voice, Armstrong denied the charges over and over again.

Apparently, no one noticed the hand behind his back with fingers crossed.

When he finally admitted taking the drugs, he was stripped of his awards and banned from future competition.

And the crossed finger protection was probably used by that famous homemaking guru, Martha Stewart when she told authorities she was innocent of insider trading, When the lie was discovered, she moved her homemaking activities to a prison cell.

But, since returning to society, she has reinvented herself and her reputation has survived unscathed. Apparently, as long as those fingers are crossed, it's possible to make a full recovery.

Just ask former President Bill Clinton. His fingers were obviously crossed when he uttered those immortal words denying his extra curricular activities with a staff member.

Although the lie was uncovered, Bill, Hillary and the country have put all that nasty business behind them. These days, Bill's been elevated to honored elder statesman.

Another backfire of the crossed fingers caught that sweet young thing, Lindsay Lohan. She continues to feel lying is fine, as long as those pretty little fingers are crossed.

She used the technique a few years back when she had an accident in her Porsche. With an innocent smile and hand behind her back, she claimed her "assistant was driving the car."

Police later proved little Lindsay had lied.

Obviously the crossed finger routine doesn't always work. Politician John Edwards and golfer Tiger Woods are among the many members of the large club of failures in the crossed fingers ploy.

So crossed fingers or not, our mothers were right when warned us, "Never tell a lie, dear. Chances are you'll be found out."



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