March 10, 2009

On Lying

So I promised myself that I would write some thoughts on lying today.

So. Lying.

Bad thing right?

Well... everything is relative.

Good lies I have told:

~ Comforting a woman about her color choices for yarn even thought I thought they were hideous. She just wanted to be told that they were good, so I did. I do this all the time. These people don't really want my opinion, they just want someone to tell them they've done ok. I'm alright with this, just another part of life as a shop girl. Having tact is better than being honest most of time.

~ I embellish stories, make up details I don't remember. I'm not even sure that this counts as lying per-se, but I'm usually very aware that I'm doing it. Sometimes I tell about things that didn't even happen to me, but could have, or happened to someone I know, when it is easier to explain that it was me rather than who the person was or is to me and what happened to them. First person experience is more powerful than second-hand so I occasionally take shortcuts.

~ I told an ex that I wasn't cheating on him when he specifically asked me if I was with the specific person I was, about five times. I knew it was kinder for him to think that I hadn't. I think he believed me. The man I was messing around with was a wake up call for me to end that abusive tragedy of a relationship. Not that is was right precisely but I'm still sure it was better to lie to him. He always believed in rainbows and soul-mates and happy endings and it was better for me to prop him up a little then tear him all down. There are other things about the end of that relationship I regret doing, other truths I wish I had shared but that was never one of them.

Bad, no good, stinking lies I have told:

~ Repeatedly constantly, every other week at least faking I was sick so I didn't have to go to school, sometimes for days at a time. I don't think my mother wanted to deal with me so she just let me and I was quiet and spent most of the time reading or sleeping so she wouldn't really know. I did this for all 12 years of my public school education. I also constantly lied about why I didn't have homework or papers done to get extensions. I was clever and bold at it and it was terrible. I played this game with somewhat less success with my professors in college. I was the Queen of bullshit. I did this when I worked for the phonebook too. I invented relatives with horrible problems and medical conditions to get out of working. I don't think the boss believed me but he didn't care enough to scold me. I hated that job. I've left all this behind and have called in sick I think exactly one day since I started working my current jobs. I just can't not work, there isn't anyone to cover for me since there are so few of us, I think the fact that I'm not a replaceable cog, that I'm important and I need to be there keeps me honest. Also I don't hate it so much I feel sick at the thought of being there. I actually quite like my own little corner of retail.

~ When I was 18 I had a little red convertible car that I would constantly pull into the driveway too fast. I parked in front of my dad's old decommissioned pickup. My mother would tell me all the time not to pull into the driveway too fast. One day she was right, I hit the truck and smashed the fiberglass on the front of my car. I told my dad what happened and my younger brother. I told my mother that the car had been hit in the school parking lot. She wanted to call the cops and couldn't figure out why everyone wasn't as upset as her about what happened. Eventually I convinced my dad to tell her the truth and I have a very vivid image of her sitting quietly on the stairs telling me how disappointed in me she was etc. I still think it would have been worse if I'd just told her. I felt pretty terrible for dragging everyone else into lying to her but its still pretty funny to me now. Really funny actually.

~ Being given checks to pay university bills and then just sitting on them for months while fees piled up because I I let it go so long I didn't know how to fix it. Then lying to my father about what I'd done and why, putting him off for any and every reason I could think of. It was some pretty fucked-up behavior I still don't really understand. I was depressed and having anxiety attacks and wasn't functioning. I didn't get help for 3 more years after that. It probably would have been better for him to call me on my bullshit but he had enough to deal with in his immediate vicinity with my younger brother off the rails much worse than I.

A lie I should feel bad about but don't:

~ Telling my parents that I was late or couldn't make it to some family function because of Eli. I know, that sound terrible, but believe me it goes down a lot smoother if they really think that things are beyond my control. I don't do this much anymore because I don't need to. They don't try to control me as much anymore so I don't need to put them off. I feel a little tiny bit bad because it bothered Eli, but that is really the only reason.

So... lying:

I think we all tell them sometimes. Well except Eli, he can't lie if his life depends on it. Even when he should. I don't tell the whole story, I misdirect and I embellish. Sometimes objectively I think I can't be considered a 'good' person. I try to spare people mostly, protect and smooth my way in the world. It might be mercenary, but I think it works mostly.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beth, there is no way on earth I could do your job. I would be asking people why they thought they couldn't choose colors on their own. My hat is off to you.