Sons of the Desert (1933)

Sons of the Desert

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” –Mark Twain, author and humorist

Getting caught in a lie in real life can be one of the worst feelings in the world. Even telling the smallest fib can turn into a colossal mess of hurt. (Breaking Bad, anyone?) However, lies are the cornerstone for many laugh-out-loud plots in the comedy genre. Sons of the Desert is only one hour long, but the situations the characters face in the story will have audiences hooting for eons…because, well, watching other people slip on their lies like a banana peel will always be funny.

Laurel and Hardy are members of a secret society called Sons of the Desert, and they take an oath to attend a convention in Chicago. However, when their wives disapprove of the trip, Hardy pretends to be ill with a condition where the only remedy is to go get some sun in Hawaii. The boys pretend to leave for Hawaii, but they are really off to the Windy City. (Don’t ask me why they actually chose the Midwest over a cruise to Honolulu.) Of course, when plans go awry their lie turns right around and punishes them hilariously.

As I write this, I am scanning through my life to see if I can find any horrible lies I told. Most of the time, I was an outspoken proponent of telling the truth, which had a tendency to disappoint my more mischievous friends. If I did tell a lie, my conscience would get the best of me and I would admit that it was me who stole the cookie from the cookie jar.

There is one lie that is worth addressing. My pal Sank is six months older than me, and for a brief time in middle school I believed he had reached a level of awesomeness that I had not quite attained. So every now and then I would make sure he knew that I, too, was cool in my own right. One day I told him, “My second cousin is Elijah Wood. I’m related to Frodo Baggins.” He nodded his head and said, “Nice.” Rats, that wasn’t the response I was hoping for. I forgot all about it for three years.

Later in our friendship, we were sitting in a Jacuzzi talking about the good old days. I said, “Remember that time I made you think Elijah Wood was my second cousin? That was so funny.” This time, Sank’s response was more immediate. “What the heck?! I’ve always believed you! I told my whole family and all my friends you’re related to Elijah Wood!” I felt bad about my lame claim to fame. After some convincing, Sank and I made amends, but he gives me grief about the infamous Elijah Wood Lie to this day.

Next time I tell a lie, I’ll set an alarm on my phone to remind me to exclaim, “just kidding,” after a certain period of time. Three years is too long, even by Laurel and Hardy’s standards.