It’s a Fake Love Letter – Varalotti’s Primer In Calling Someone’s Bluff While ‘calling someone’s bluff’ is an activity I love to ingulge in, I am not heartless to hurt people who dole out white lies by the dozen with the sole motive of impressing us. A plain looking woman was telling me the other day, that as she took out the money from where she usually kept it to buy her bus tickets, some college boy standing nearby made a ‘nasty’ comment praising her beauty. To recite that here or to even mention about that ‘place’ would be to incur the wrath of my dear moderators. It was clear that it was one huge white lie. But I just let it go. One has to, if one wants to be humane. Likewise an elderly friend was talking of his ‘conquests’. Of course you know what I mean. To let that kind of a statement fly by you is social grace. Another friend was boasting about the investment he had made in gold that day. And to impress me he reeled out the figures – the quantity of gold purchased and the money invested. By a flash calculation carried on the back of my mind, I knew he was bluffing. Had I asked one question, “What’s today’s price of 22 carat gold, per gram?”, he would have been trapped. But I let it go. After all his lies did not hurt anybody. To let go such lies with an indulgent smile is good manners, to say the least. Now that was the caveat. Now let us go into the lesson. The year was 1978. A group of us, all in our early 20s were standing near the Railway Station waiting to be picked up by a client’s vehicle. We were all apprenticing in the same CA firm. One of the boys in our group was very handsome. (No, No, I swear it was not me.) And naturally a ladies’ man. A good looking woman who was working at a nearby bank branch used to cross us every day. She exchanged ‘very meaningful’ looks with our Mr.Handsome when she went by. This became the hottest gossip in our office. Mr.Handsome was very close to me. He told me that he wanted to meet that lady and talk to her. One day Mr.Handsome came dressed in a new dark brown shirt which enhanced his looks. A day later H received a letter from that lady. The lady had praised his great looks, especially while wearing that new shirt. The letter ran into two pages. H became nervous. It is a defining moment for a man to know that a girl had fallen for his looks. H took me aside and showed me the letter. He sought my advice (of all the people in the world!) as to the next step he should take. I wanted to make sure whether the letter was real. I asked him how the hell that bank lady knew our office address. He gave some kind of explanation, about our office being very popular blah blah blah. I read the letter for the 13<sup>th</sup> time and told him in the tone of Sherlock Holmes: “H, this letter is a fake. It is not written by that lady.” “But how did you find out?” “Elementary my dear Watson, elementary. Only you and I and a couple of boys here know that your shirt was new. There is no way she knows that. So if she wanted to praise your shirt, she ought to have written, “You look terrific in that brown shirt.” Not your new shirt. She can never know that the shirt is new unless she knows your entire wardrobe.” H was aghast. I continued. “Apart from you and me only S and R know that your shirt is new. Now S is too dull to carry out a trick like that. Get hold of R and we will know the truth.” When H lifted R by his collar he confessed his crime. The letter was a fake written by him. H was disappointed to say the least. But a greater tragedy was averted. So that is the very first lesson: you do not require anything more than an alert state of mind to call someone’s bluff.