On Monday, the tribe sat down around the fire to eat. As was normal in the silence of the meal, the chief called on one of his warriors, “Tell us what great things you did today!”
The warrior sat up straight, “I killed two boars. One of them we are eating now.”
The chief said, “That is good,” and they continued their meal in silence.
On Tuesday, the chief called upon another of his hunters, “What great things did you do today?”
“My chief, I saw a mighty ox, which I tracked all morning, but when I caught it at mid-day, it escaped.”
“You lie!” The mighty warrior Tak stood up. He was as large and as strong as the chief, though he would never presume. “I saw you in the camp at midday!”
The chief stood up, “A liar! We will not abide liars! Strip his clothes and stripe his skin!” And so, the liar was dragged away, and the meal continued.
On Wednesday, the chief called out to another warrior, “What great things did you do today?”
The warrior looked worried, then after a moment, he said, “Well, as I was going to refresh myself at the pool this morning, I came across a giant sabertoothed tiger, with three tusks! He was as tall as a man, and as long as a mastodon!”
“You lie!” Tak jumped up again, “We have not seen a sabertoothed tiger for generations!”
“Of course not,” the warrior thought quickly, “This giant one ate all the others. He was a vicious creature, and a cannibal besides!”
Unable to refute this logic, Tak sat down.
The warrior continued, “Of course, I am a brave man, but even I found my bravery tested. My skin prickled, and my stomach churned. I hoped the creature could not hear my stomach rumbling, because it had a head as wide as a man’s arm is long. Then, as I turned to slink away, I tripped over a twig, and it looked up. It ran for me, roaring, as I lay there -”
“Lies!” shouted Tak. “Three tusks! A head as wide as a man’s arm is long? No such creature exists! Kill the liar!” He jabbed an accusing finger at the liar, and three men grabbed him.
As they began to drag him away, the chief shouted, “Wait!”
They all stopped and Tak looked at him, unbelieving, “My chief! He has lied to us! He must be punished!”
“Yes, I know but. . .” The chief’s brow furrowed, “Well, I want to know how it ends.”
Tak gaped, “But he’s not telling the truth!”
“I know, but he tells it so well!” The chief said, “You, tell us what happened next.”
The men let go of the liar, who looked at the chief, unsure, “So, you won’t kill me?”
“Not if you tell us.”
“How big a lie can I tell?”
The chief’s eyes grew big, “I don’t know.”
The liar grinned, “Very well then.” He clapped his hands together and went back to the fire, taking the best seat next to the chief, “Break us off a knuckle of that meat, would you dear? So, there I was . . .”
And so, storytelling was born. We storytellers celebrate thousands of years of not getting killed for our lies.