We’re dudes. We are genetically designed to twist the truth a little bit. Okay, alotta’ bit. Your boss doesn’t need to know you simply slept in and your girl doesn’t need to know you spent four hours at the strip club. For all they know, you were helping a blind man who had been clipped by a car in the crosswalk, or you spent four hours answering phones at the local charity drive.

Truth bending may seem easy enough, but a chink in your lying armor can bring you down — and that’s a hit impossible to come back from. Follow these rules to keep you on top of your dishonest game.

Use a Little Truth
Every lie has to have a hint of truth in it. If you heard about a huge traffic jam on the way home — regardless if it was on your path or not — use that in your story. Example: “There was a massive traffic jam on the 405 and they were diverting traffic to the 101. I was at a dead stop for two hours.” With any luck, there will be a major fire/earthquake/alien invasion you can reference.

What will put you over the top: call ahead and say you are delayed by ___________.

Be Able to Back It Up
If you are going to say you were visiting your friend in the hospital, you have to make an appearance. If your chick is going to check up on you, make sure the alibi is solid. Even though you told her you spent three hours sitting bedside with your friend, you only need to drop by for five minutes to create your back story.

What will put you over the top: video tape your alibi or snap a photo on your cell phone

Be Passionate
It’s hard to combat passion. Your boss isn’t going to excuse your 67th late arrival this year if you don’t get behind your own made-up story. You have to be angry at the driver who left the scene after he clipped that poor blind man in the crosswalk. You have to be thankful for the other Good Samaritans who stopped and offered their help. And you have to marvel at the courage of the poor blind man. No one will argue against you when you were delayed by being a decent human being.

What will put you over the top: sweating, tears

Lie Within the Lie
Sometimes it’s the little lie within the lie that clinches it for you. Reference something specific that may or may not exist. If your lie involves you being robbed at gunpoint, you will need to recall reading that crime is up 18.5% from last year in your neighborhood — and you never thought it would happen to you. Whenever you drop a statistic or specific fact, your lie gains the credibility it needs to be a real story.

What will put you over the top: have a newspaper clipping handy to back up your facts

Turn the Tables With Humility
It’s hard not to believe someone who is admitting their faults. If your boss/wife/friend is accusing you of God knows what, bring the blame back around to them by admitting you are not a perfect person. This not only diverts from the current subject, but then drops the guilt bomb on them for suggesting you aren’t being truthful in the first place. It will also seal the deal if you incorporate them into the humble pie by mentioning an area in life they are particularly good at — such as time management or not having a speech impediment.

What will put you over the top: saying you are sorry for being born imperfect

Lie to yourself in the mirror. Record yourself lying and listen to it carefully. Video tape the lie fest and watch it. Are you making eye contact? Is your voice steady? Are you confident? Is your eye twitching? You will need to be a rock while constructing your perfect lie. Perfecting this can be done by dropping lies when you have no reason to. For instance, tell the cashier at the grocery store that you’re buying cumquats because the FBI is demanding all their agents eat them daily. Or stop on the side of the road and ask directions to the hospital because you are in town on vacation, but have been asked to sit in on a complicated brain surgery case. Practice makes perfect, Pinocchio.

What will put you over the top: use an accent and wear a disguise

Fake Sickness/Being Drugged
I had a headache and this guy gave me a pill for it. Now I don’t remember a thing.” Unless the person you are lying to is an internist, you will be golden with faking being drugged. You are now the innocent victim. And even if the lie if directed to a doctor, it’s pretty damn hard to argue that you weren’t sick. Being ill even holds up in court. At least in the movies it does.

What will put you over the top: say what color the fake pill you didn’t take was