Mark Washburn

When you get caught, just blame it on Rio

Ryan Lochte checks his time in a men’s 4x200-meter freestyle heat during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Ryan Lochte checks his time in a men’s 4x200-meter freestyle heat during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics. AP

I medaled in alibis.

Coming up with a plausible explanations for the stuporous lapses of youth requires expert timing, sleek narrative and bold schlock. You have come to the right place, young athletes.

I am experienced. I can show you the ropes.

Follow my rules and even if you have the IQ of a barrel of bananas, you will prosper.

When you find yourself in the soup, take solace in the fact that there are many realities. Ask any physicist.

There is the plausible reality, the fantastical reality and then the oopsy reality that you must deny, deny, deny until it vanishes into the mist.

Your best friend is what we in the alibi business call the Disney Dimension, which looks kind of authentic but is merely a marvel of architecture and imagination with overpriced ice cream.

To enter this magical realm, you simply must do this: Take the known facts and draw a line through them repeatedly until it comes out someplace else.

If you say a mugger put a gun to your head and cocked it, and nobody’s buying it, explain that it might not actually have been pointed at your head or cocked or even in the hands of a mugger.

You say, with a touch of indignation, that it felt like that.

Lots of people imagine things as dawn draws its russet curtain after a rigorous night of exploring the society of a Parisian party house. Happens to almost everybody.

It is critical to get your companions to stick to the same story. This can be accomplished by two means: either round them all up and drill the fantastical reality into their bleary brains, or, more easily, smother them in their sleep.

Try sticking to your story as long as you can. When confronted with discrepancies, use reassuring affirmations such as “says who?” and “I won’t dignify that with a response.”

Avoid clever phrases like “Appalachian Trail,” “wardrobe malfunction” and “wide stance.” Steer clear of yachts with names like “Monkey Business.” Make the headline writers earn their pay.

One modern problem with alternative realities is there are security cameras everywhere. These pesky things produce videos that cause gullible civilians to doubt your story.

Don’t sweat it. Stick to the script. Even if you and your companions are, say, four of the most well-known athletes in the solar system and the cameras show all, you just squint at the screen and chant with enthusiasm, “See there! I told you. Those guys don’t even look like us!”

Keep saying it, and some people will believe it. Remember, it’s a world of possibilities.

If in the unlikely event that things get worse – like, say you’ve annoyed an entire nation with boundless resources of detectives and troops – you still have before you as a last resort what we in the business call the Justin Bieber maneuver.

You can say you’re sorry.

But don’t do it like that. For an apology to be acceptable, you must first accept all responsibility, unconditionally.

You go, “I am so sorry and there’s no excuse for what I did.”

Then, Biebering masterfully, you build on that granite foundation 99 reasons excusing what you did – it was late, you were buzzed, you’re young and cute, people are jealous of your success, the sun got in your eyes, there must have been something in the champagne, it’s hard to understand Brazilians because they talk funny and, finally, you mistook the gas station restroom door for a burning orphanage stuffed with babies.

This statement should best be delivered from afar, because if you follow my advice this would have been Step One:

When guilty, hop the first flight out of town.