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None of us had. Ellie said she had never actually played it, but explained that she understood the way it worked was each of us admitted what he or she thought his or her greatest self-deception, and the rest of us would comment on its truth or falsity factor. Irwin, Ellie’s husband, I thought I noticed, looked a touch put-off at the suggestion.

“I’ll begin,” Ellie said. “My biggest self-deception is that, at seventy-two, I can still pass for being in my late fifties. I jog. I go to Zumba twice a week. I do half an hour of stretching exercises and another half hour on the treadmill every morning. I used to do yoga. I’ve had some work done on my eyes, as I think everyone in the room probably knows. All to stay younger looking, which I’m usually able to convince myself I do. But other times, when under pressure of one kind or another, I look in the mirror and think to myself I look less like seventy-two than ninety-two. Who’s deceiving who here, I ask myself. Anyhow, there you have it: my biggest self-deception is that I look lots younger than my real age.”

“I’d like to disagree that looking younger than her true age is Ellie’s biggest self-deception,” her husband Irwin said. “You do in fact look a lot younger than your true age, kiddo, and no one is in a better position to know than me. Everyone in this room would also disagree that Ellie’s looking younger than her age is her biggest self-deception if they saw her last month’s Visa bill. $7,862.39, if I remember correctly. What was most impressive about it, though, is that on examination I discovered it didn’t contain the purchase of a single item you might possibly call a necessity.

“Remember that old Rodney Dangerfield joke. A thief stole my wife’s purse with all her credit cards, but he, Rodney, wasn’t going after him because the thief was spending less than his wife does. Anyhow, I beg to differ, Ellie, about your greatest self-deception. You always look terrific. Your greatest self-deception, sweetie, is that you think that you live moderately and within our means.”

An awkward silence followed, which Ellie, who didn’t bother to shoot her husband a dirty look, broke by saying, “Artie, how about you go next?”

“Sure,” Artie said. “My greatest self-deception is that I’ll some day play consistently good golf — good enough, say, to win a couple of seniors tournaments. In fact, I think my golf game may be getting worse, going lately from the middle and high 80s to the low 90s the last three times out. Still, I find I need this little deception, maybe I should call it a fantasy. It keeps me coming back to the links. I see golf trophies on the mantel in our rec room with my name on them. If self-deception it be, which is no doubt is, it’s one I’m reluctant to let go of.”

“Excuse me, Artie,” my wife Susan said, “but I wonder if an even greater self-deception of yours isn’t that you’re a good father.”

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