From childhood on, we are taught not to lie. Yet, in my increasing decrepitude, I realize I increasingly lie … and that is the truth! Yes, liar, liar. My pants are on fire!
We all know lying is wrong. Bad. Evil. We are admonished not to lie from our earliest days. It’s the Golden Rule, right? It is right up there with the solemn injunction not to “Step on a crack” for fear of breaking your mother’s back!
Liar. Liar. Not Me. Not Then.
For decades, I was a die-hard, goody two-shoes never-tell-a-lie kind of girl. In fact, I grew up with an almost deadly allergic reaction to lying. The reason: My father was a compulsive gambler. “I’ll be back in 10 minutes. I’m just going to buy cigars,” he’d say as he headed out the door. We knew what that meant. It was code for going to gamble. He’d then disappear for hours.
His game of choice was Craps … dice for you non-players. The only questions we’d wonder upon his return, red-faced and rushed, were: Would he be smiling or scowling? Would he be flush with cash or flushed with self-loathing for the money he lost?
My mother didn’t mind (that much) that my hard-working electrician father gambled. She did, however, hate his need to lie about it. She also worried about his health and with good cause. He had a heart condition and died too young of it.
Little Miss Perfect
Young, judgmental me was less forgiving than my mother. I hated the gambling and the lying. As a result, Little Miss Perfect Me never even told white lies. Couldn’t tolerate the concept. Didn’t have, as they say nowadays, “a filter.”
As a child, I met a world-celebrated opera singer. My family admired the man and played his albums all the time. Even five-year-old me loved his music. My uncle knew him. In fact, was close friends with him. So, we got to meet the beloved singer. Yet, when introduced, I looked up at him aghast and cried out, “Oh, you are so ugly. You don’t look at all like your pictures.”
My parents, of course, were mortified. They started to scold me. The kind-hearted tenor stopped them and said. “The child speaks the truth. Those album covers were taken decades ago. Do not punish her for being honest.”
As a teenager, when other girls dodged unwanted Friday night dates with flimsy excuses of having to “wash their hair,” I always told the truth and simply/cruelly said I wasn’t interested in going out.
When I started out in the workforce, I never phoned in sick even if I felt like playing hooky. I just brazenly said I needed a break and would make up the work by putting in extra hours the next day. Somehow, my bosses were always so taken aback by my honesty that I always got away with it.
The Wheel Turns
Then, I had children. Sleep-deprived, my moral compass shifted. I learned the power, necessity, and the glory of lies!
First, it was the little stuff like “Yes, the Tooth Fairy is real.” Ditto Santa Claus. And as for your hermit crab, “He’s fine, just fine. Hermie was just lonely and wanted to move home to his family.” “What happened to your goldfish? No, of course, he didn’t die! No, I didn’t flush him down the toilet!”
The Lies Got Bigger
“No, we cannot go into Toys-R-Us. It’s closed.” That lie worked for years until my first child learned to read and saw the “Open” sign. The proverbial jig was up on that one and forever it seemed I was doomed to trek into toy stores.
But if trooping off to toy stores was exhausting, what was worse were our non-stop adult social obligations.
Somehow my husband and I were trapped on a hamster wheel of business and other mandatory “fun” gatherings, trapped until I found a sure-fired solution! You guessed it … lying.
At first, it wasn’t even lying. One of our children had bad asthma. We all too frequently canceled scheduled outings to make kamikaze runs to the Emergency Room. You know things are bad when you’re on a first-name basis with everybody at the ER, starting with the security guard and the entire team at the admit desk, no matter the hour, no matter the day of the week!
Asthma. Migraines. COVID. Oh, My!
Then, as my child’s asthma flare-ups eased, my own bad back and migraine woes escalated. Painful, yes, but also, 100% credible, guilt-free “get out of boring stuff” excuses. No doctor’s notes or trips to the ER required! Manna from Heaven.
And along came COVID … Admit it! Who amongst us has not played the “I might have been exposed to COVID” card to get out of work or some unwanted travel or social obligation at least once? I confess I’ve played the faux COVID card … twice!
Liar. Liar. My Pajama Pants are NOT on Fire!
I know God will punish me one of these days for this mountain-high pile of lies and obfuscations I’ve told, but until then, I rest contently on the couch, watching TV or reading a novel, cuddling with my sweet husband. Cheaters and liars may not prosper, but at least I never consume too much alcohol or calories, and I always get to bed on time!