Mardy Nersesian's summer spent watching rainstorm after rainstorm at his northern Wisconsin cabin wasn't a total washout - it inspired him to spin a tale tall enough to earn him the title of world champion liar.
"We had so much rain during the spring and summer seasons, there were puddles on our lake," Nersesian said to win the Burlington Liars Club's annual contest.
Nersesian, of Racine, lives near Burlington in southeastern Wisconsin but had never before entered the contest, which started more than 70 years ago.
He found a clipping about it in a drawer at home and sat down to pen his fib, which he said was the result of the rainy spring and summer he and his wife spent at their cabin on Long Lake in Phillips.
"It was raining so hard on the lake it looked like there was water everywhere, even on the lake," said the 68-year-old retired high school art teacher.
His wife, Sue, didn't know he had submitted the lie until a certificate proclaiming him the world's best liar of 2004 arrived in the mail this week.
"He has a wonderful sense of humor and tells a lot of jokes, but they're all jokes he's heard from somebody else," Sue Nersesian said. "I don't know what prompted him to do this."
He was among 300 people from 11 states to send the contest fibs this year.
Honorable mentions among this year's entries include:
The goal of the liars contest is to perpetuate the tall tale, according to John Soeth, president of the club, which boasts just two members.
"There are certain lies that we're looking for. We want very common happenings that at the end of the statement, it twists to ridiculous," Soeth said.
The club traces its roots to a newspaper story in 1929 about a made-up meeting among police and firefighters to pick a champion liar. The story attracted attention the next year from people who wanted to know whether the police and firefighters would pick another top liar.
The club was formed and started accepting tall tales. Otis Hulett, a Burlington-based reporter for a Racine newspaper, led the club from its founding until Soeth took over in 1980.
Soeth said he wasn't sure how many lies the contest would get this year.
"We were afraid we wouldn't get any this year because they were all used up during the election campaign," he said. "But there were a few left."
By Melissa McCord