August 17, 2007
not lying down
I try not to lie too much, but admittedly I fail miserably. I’ve fessed this up before to you, along with my fondness for Easy Cheese and Tony Danza vehicles, but the subject has come up in my life again more recently. I’m reminded. In my skewed tiny head – I’m not kidding, I can wear children’s sunglasses – I justify my lies. They are passable because they don’t hurt anyone.

I can’t go to your (happy hour or niece’s bat mitzvah or raging kegger) because (insert cat or gastric affliction here, which is often true as you well know, or plague of locusts or being in the middle of tutoring the unfortunate children of the inner suburbs in particle physics). I can’t make the event, no, but my excuse of wanting to stay home to write or my inability to look presentable in this God awful heat or me just not liking you all that much will never, ever suffice. You probably don’t want to hear it anyway.

You look great (wearing those pleated khakis, with a home perm, in your new electric blue Geo Metro, with inch-thick liquid eyeliner). I tell you this simply because I don’t know you well enough to say otherwise. If I did, and my friends can vouch for this, it would be time for an intervention, with or without the help of A&E.

No, we aren’t doing anything for your birthday. I’m sorry that none of us remembered it. Better luck next year.

Yes, I like your boyfriend. I especially like the way he walks two feet in front of you and buys his beer without getting yours. Yes, of course, he could very well be the One! I say this knowing that you’ll break up in two weeks, and that then, and only then, we will split a jug of rose Gallo from Walgreen’s and I will dish about how much I wanted to twist his scrawny red neck.

I once sprayed deodorant in my office in a desperate moment that had me turning to my emergency hygiene drawer, the one that for some odd reason also houses all of my lunchtime condiments. Because the universe fools with me on a regular basis, a coworker walked in within seconds. I lied and told her the scent was from an air freshener. Now how could I help her? She gave me a puzzled look. I had left a white streak of Soft and Dri on the black fabric under each of my arms.

Lying is easier. The words that come off the cuff in our everyday save us a good bit of uncomfortable interaction. And I also think it’s acceptable, something that you shall henceforth agree never, ever to use against me in the blogosphere or at real-life drinking events. It’s okay for the 17-year-old girl to be sent to the nurse with a headache rather than the cramps that kept her up all night. You can tell your friends that their newborn is adorable, even though you’re quite sure it will never be Prom King, or Queen for that matter, whenever you finally crack the code of its ambiguous gender via pierced ears or baseball appliqué.

But I was recently lied to in a way that didn’t fit my or any other rulebooks. It was a lie by omission, something I’m pretty sure others see as the brand of lie that warrants a footnote rather than its own chapter. It required not one lie, but a series of them, the kind that require planning. That demand strategy. It demanded so much intent and so many days of avoidance that it almost boggles the mind that one would engage in so much effort rather than telling the truth.

Is it worth it? Was it worth it?

I haven’t told a lie like this in some time, and the last time I did, it began a spiral of distrust that led to me losing someone very close to me. I remember the absolute panic I felt going into it, the desperation that followed an act that I couldn’t take back, an event solely of my initiation. I was vague in my account of what had happened, telling bits and pieces in short, stuttered phrases. I vividly recall that I couldn’t look him in the eyes and talk at the same time. I also knew I was making very conscious efforts to breathe deeply just so I could get the words out. I was completely wrapped up in my own head, worried defensively only about covering myself; not losing him in the process was completely secondary. I hadn’t given a thought to his feelings or the consequences or any of that tangential crap before I did it, of course. And I remember that I was almost flippant in my apologies to him. I defended my actions. But I knew it was wrong as I went through every planned motion. And he knew. He almost knew the story to the most minuscule detail before I coughed up the information. We always know.

When you’re the liar, you are that guy we’ve all sat down to a friendly game of poker with, the overeager, smarmy one with the odd tells, the one who repeatedly claims he doesn’t understand the rules but seems to know his way around the table just fine. Not only is no one sure exactly who invited him, but he takes all the fun out of the game. And he’s an ass when he wins the pot, scooping up your cash with a sweaty snort while you give the knowing glance to your regular players. This is the guy from whom you hide your good beer in the farthest reaches of the fridge. The one you rant about after he’s cleaned you out. The one you promise will not be invited back.

I’m not playing that game anymore.

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Blogger Mamma said...

You know you could have just told me you didn't want to get together for drinks.

At least then, I could have worn my flip flops to work.

Blogger playfulinnc said...

If you're good at seeing when ppl lie, it's hard to do it yourself. I hate feeling anxious and paranoid, and err on the blunt side a bit more often than I'd like, would rather be punched in the nether regions than start the lie spiral.

Man, I need coffee.

Blogger Gwen said...

More icky drama, huh?

I was a liar of some talent as a child, if being good at lying can be called talent. And it wasn't, unfortunately, just a vivid imagination. Maybe that's why I'm kind of sensitive to even the faintest whiffs of dishonesty now.

I have few reasons to perpetuate large dishonesties and little compulsion to lie whitely, either. But maybe that's just because I never, you know, do anything. So there are advantages to the life of a hermit.

Blogger The Hotfessional said...

While I can't be totally blunt, I can't be totally honest either. I find that, more often than not, I act my way through those "of course she's beautiful" moments with silence and smiles rather than actual words.

It does hurt though, when you know someone is doing it back to you.

Blogger *kb* said...

I have a huge problem with this...I ALWAYS feel guilty when I'd rather stay home than go out with some friends. I have learned to leave it at, "That doesn't work for me tonight, but have fun." The fewer details the better and crap we shouldn't feel guilty for taking care of, and putting ourselves first!!

As far as recently being lied too, I'm sorry!! It does hurt, but remember this is a reflection of them and not you!! :-)

Blogger mysterygirl! said...

Damn, girl. It just doesn't stop over there, does it? I don't understand people and the things they feel they need to do rather than be honest. Then again, I'm too honest for my own good, which is its own problem.

Blogger Lola Goetz said...

yeah, i find myself saying i don't know or i can't remember things when i probably could if i tried a little harder. or i think it's easier just to say no than to really tell the truth. why is that? i don't do it at my job, so why do i do it in other places?

but it's unplanned, always. the omission? that's tough honey, and i'm sorry that it has hurt you. *hugs*


Blogger Kim said...

This post is for me isn't it? You found out Killian's not really hurt and I only told you that because I didn't want to go to Medieval Times, didn't you?

Son of a...

Blogger Heather B. said...

I mean I don't expect for you to want to go to Sonoma all the time. We can go to other places...geeze. But I believed you so, well done, my friend, well done.

;-) xo

Blogger Cece said...

I use to be able to look my (now ex) boyfriend in the eye and straight up lie to him. Not a problem. I was a GOOD liar in "those" days. But now? Geez, I'm way too honest that if I return something to a store that I broke I start sweating!

P.S. I love Easy Cheese too! hehehe

Blogger The Middle Child said...

I can't even tell when my eight year old is lying... you could totally get anything past me!

Blogger sue said...

I am queen of the 'little white lie'...mostly because I would rather stay home than do almost anything. (I'm funny like that.)

However, the big lies? yeah. They suck. On either side.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a terrible liar. I can't do it, I know it and so do the people closest to me, so I usually don't bother unless it's a white lie to spare someone's feelings. That kind of lie I try to tell with gusto because I hate hurting the feelings.

Of course the flip side of being almost completely honest is this: people still think you are lying because it shocks them to think someone is being that honest.

Now when someone doesn't believe me I just wander away, muttering to myself.

Blogger Oh, The Joys said...

I lie when I don't want to go out. I make up some story.

(Once I sprayed binaca blast in my arm pits. Why no. My armpits don't smell. [[They STING LIKE F*CK THOUGH.]])

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I told a friend I couldn't go to his I'm-back-in-town dinner because I was helping a friend write a cover letter.

This about 30 minutes ago.


Blogger Jorge said...



That's it.

I'm selling pictures of my cats playing with your wig.

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