MILWAUKEE – A whopper about a devious baby and his diapers is the top lie of 2008, an organization of champion fibbers declared Monday.
The Burlington Liars Club bestowed its top award for this line: "My grandson is the most persuasive liar I have ever met. By the time he was 2 years old he could dirty his diaper and make his mother believe someone else had done it."
Garth Seehawer, 71, of Oconto Falls, said he took immense pride in having crafted the 2008 Champion Lie.
"When you're the best in the world at something, sure, that's an honor," he said, insisting with a chuckle that his background as a lawyer gave him no advantage.
Four judges picked Seehawer's lie out of about 160 entries.
The six runners-up included a fib about air passengers watching the movie "Cocoon" when turbulence hits, spilling water from the screen and causing the airliner's life rafts to inflate.
The Burlington Liars Club got its start in 1929 when local journalists Otis Hulett and Mannel Hahn fabricated a news story about a lying contest between the Burlington police and fire departments. The police chief won after he said he'd never be good at lying because he never told a lie.
From those beginnings, the club expanded to about 2,000 members around the world, said Eddie Impens, the club's vice president. It's headquartered in Burlington, a town about 35 miles southwest of Milwaukee.
Impens, who owns a lumber company, said most of this year's entries came from Wisconsin, though one arrived from Canada. He expected more entries from France, which historically has produced the best lies entered from overseas, he said.
A telephone conversation with Impens is fraught with lighthearted skepticism. He answers questions easily, but occasionally adds with a quick laugh, "You know, I could be lying to you about all this."
A lifetime membership in the Liars Club costs $1. It grants the holder the right to submit an unlimited number of fibs each year.
Concocting a good lie isn't a matter of diligence, Seehawer said. Usually, the spark of an idea pops into his head, and he lets it percolate for a while before typing it out and submitting it.
He came close to capturing the club's top honor about 12 years ago with the observation that a winter breeze was so stiff it blew off his brother's bald spot, leaving him with a full head of hair.
"A good lie isn't just a tall tale or exaggerating," he said. "You have to have something fun, not believable but impossibly true."