The Lies About Lying
December 5, 2008, 12:43 AM
Filed under: Animal By-Products, Forgery, Suddenly Satire

Lying…is good.


You shouldn’t be.  Your subconscious, your ego, and your pride probably all agree with me.  So do your friendships, your boyfriend(s) or girlfriend(s), and your co-workers.  We all lie.  And you know what?  Sometimes it feels good; better than it should, actually.  Kind of like angora.  Yes, it’s made out of bunny.  But have you felt angora?  Once you actually touch it, you forget all about the romping woodland rabbits and focus on how good it would feel to live in a world wrapped in furry goodness.

Lying is that furry goodness.  It’s that special security blanket.  It’s the protection we need from retaliation or disagreement.  Example?  A co-worker asks you if you like their outfit.  You disregard the fishnet stockings or the shoulder pads, and instead dish out a sweet little white lie: “You look great!”  Some people might argue that you should just tell them exactly how you feel.  That’s right: people suggest that you tell someone you have to work with, on a professional level, everyday that they look like complete crap.  Those who give this sort of advice have a name: douchebag.

“But…telling the truth is the right thing to do C.J.!  It’s always better that way!  The truth will set you free!”

Oho, so now you’re going to throw that cliche crap at me, huh?  Well, before you go and get your leotard in a bundle, Mother Superior, let me tell you some stories about how telling the truth got me nowhere, and for good measure, one that got me somewhere.  This, my friends, is the truth about telling the truth: it’s overrated.

Got Milk?

I can’t really fathom why, but in my earlier years, I never wanted to finish my milk when I was done eating my meal.  It was as if my brain thought that drinking it after all my food was gone was either selfish or just plain overkill.  Even stranger, I drank out of what my family dubbed “the small glass” until I was 16, so it wasn’t like I had to stomach a gallon or something.  I never really had the urge to upgrade to “the big glass,” except when I realized that my brother only drank out of the big glass.  After that, I tried to drink out of it once during dinner, only to be writhing later under the immense pressure of all the dairy coagulating in my lower intestine. 

I think it’s pretty typical as a young child not to be mindful of wasting food.  If it smelled weird, we tossed it to the dog.  If it was limp, we hid it in our napkins.  If it was crawling for the door, we called animal control and hid all of the cookware from our mothers until they accepted defeat and called Papa John’s.  My trademark move was waiting until my mom had gotten up to use the bathroom and then dumping any unwanted food (mostly vegetables but certainly ALWAYS lima beans) in the garbage.  I could almost always get away with this, since my dad was usually on his second drink by the time I had dinner anyway and his eyes were glued to whatever was on TV. 

The one thing I couldn’t seem to get away with was dumping my milk.  Some days, even the small glass was too much for me. (Side note: this might explain my overly-feminine wrists…low calcium intake at an early age.  Something tells me I’ll be getting surprise osteoporosis for my 30th)  On weekdays, I didn’t eat with my parents.  The three of us, Monica, Andrew, and I, would sit at the kitchen table and eat, and my parents would eat in the living room in front of the TV.  My mom’s sightline shot directly at me, and since she had, as she constantly reminded us, eyes in the back of her head, I had to act swiftly.  Failure to do so would cause the mission to be aborted, and not only would I have to drink the milk, I would probably have to apologize. 

One night, around 5 o’clock, I was caught.  Red-handed, actually.  I had, with all my stealth, approached the kitchen sink, and was preparing the discharge, when my mom announced herself.

“What do you think you’re doing?”


Okay, so THAT lie is a terrible one, and it never really works.  But everyone already knows that. 

I was sent back to the table, ashamed, and my mom looked at me with immense pity that drove me crazy, “Sweetie, why do you have to lie to us?  You need to learn…you can’t just lie your way out of things, okay?  Lying is what really angers us.”  I nodded in the fake-somber-kid way that lets the parents know that you at least registered the sound of their voice, and she went back to the living room.  I decided at that point that the next time I couldn’t finish my milk, I was going to be honest about it.  Completely honest, just like my mom told me to do.

Holding true to this, a week later, I had successfully mastered my pork chops, hoovered up my green beans, and slurped all remnants of applesauce.  But the milk?  It was just too much.  Rather than reinacting a Bond movie to dispose of said milk, I just got up casually and walked towards the sink, as if I was born to waste it.  I dumped it, placed the glass on the counter, and went back to my seat. 

When I sat back down, my mom surveyed me, probably wondering if I was having a stroke.  “What did you just do with your milk?”  Without thinking and without worrying, I turned to her, and told her exactly what I did: “I dumped it down the drain.”

Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next.

“Oh really?” she spat, “Well, thanks for telling me.  Go to your room, you’re grounded.”

Being grounded at the age of 8 is the equivalent of a maximum security prison without all the awkward shower sex, so I was devastated, and tried to plead my case, just as any proper convict would do. 

“What??  But you told me that I should always tell the truth!  That you wouldn’t be mad if I told you the truth!”

“I did say that,” she said, crouching next to me, but still in an icy tone, “And I’m glad you told me.  But you’re still grounded.”

I felt foolish.  Had I lied, I at least had the opportunity, the chance to get away with it.  But this time I told the truth.  I had sewn my orange jumpsuit, and for the next week, I was going to have to lie in it.

Some Real Progress

Probably the worst aspect of my entire high school career was the progress report.  It was different from a report card, because you knew that there was no way to lie out of a report card, there was no hiding it, and it may as well have been chizeled in stone.  A progress report, however, was something that you could hide, so at least there was that.

To parents, seeing a D on a progress report was like seeing a man cheat on his wife.  Even though it’s not a final grade, their mind seems to be made up, because when the report card does come and the grade isn’t changed, they lack any anger or even enthusiasm.  They throw it in your face, tell you you’re grounded, and turn on Seinfeld.

Countless times, I had attempted protect my parents from my progress reports.  And for a while it was actually working.  That all changed when a math teacher by the name of Mrs. Kirsch began sending us home with progress reports that, get this: had to be SIGNED by our parents.

Mrs. Kirsch could have been a very sweet and kind lady.  She certainly dressed the part of a hard-working, stocky prarie woman, but the problem was that she had the bite of a poisonous adder.  Her face was somewhat sunken, so when she smiled, she didn’t light up, she flickered, like an oil lamp.  Her hair was a cross between some sort of helmet head and Didi’s hairstyle from Rugrats.  She swung her arms emphatically, which made her lady arm fat sway to and fro like little epidermal hammocks, each threatening to give someone in the front row a shiner.  In the winter, Mrs. Kirsch would apply a radically liberal amount of chapstick to her face.  She’d start with the lips, move all the way up and around, and 10 minutes later, when she was finished, you had something that resembled a greased-up snickerdoodle with eyes. 

Mrs. Kirsch was also incredibly mean, but not in the traditional sense.  She was always very creative with her rudeness.  While we were working on homework one afternoon I had shockingly raised my hand for help.  She came over to see what I needed, and she tried to re-teach me the lesson I wasn’t understanding.  I’ve never had a loving relationship with math, but when I said I still didn’t understand, she picked up my notebook, threw it to the ground, and shouted, “Then I REFUSE to help you!”

When she began to have us sign progress reports, I’d immediately take the sheet to my mom, beg for forgiveness, and bring it back the next day.  But when the report displayed the completely UNforgiving F, I knew I had to take matters into my own hands.  I did what any other 8th grade kid would do – I forged my mother’s signature.  Of course, this took some encouragement.

“Why don’t I just do it?  It doesn’t look like your mom has a hard signature.”

I was at lunch before math period and one of my friends who suggested the forgery in the first place was now volunteering to do it.  I was skeptical.

“Oh yeah?  Well here, draw it on this piece of paper first, lemme see…”

He didn’t even spell my last name right.  So after a few shots of gatorade and a splash of water in the face, I grabbed a pen, and tried my best to copy the strokes. 

I was sweating buckets when she finally came around to collect the progress reports.  I kept picturing awful scenarios in my head: me being grounded by my parents, being spread-eagled on the Problem of the Week  wall, being kicked out of band, having to apologize…the possibilities were frightening.  When she looked down at my progress report, I could see her falter, and then attempt to hide the falter.  Knowing she failed to maintain her curiosity, she just flat out asked me:  “Your mom signed this?”  The tone was icy and accusatory, but that’s the way she said most things, at least to her students.  I replied with a curt “Uh-huh.”  She gave the paper one last up-and-down, and moved on to the next desk. 

I was home free.  The lie had worked, the signature held up, and my mom never got to see the F I had in math.

Well, that is, until the report card came out.

So what do we learn from this?  Lying isn’t the best thing in the word, but it’s good.  Because without it, we’d all be pretty unhappy, I think.  Of course, there’s a lot that you shouldn’t lie about: relationships, embezzelment, things of that sort.  But why not tell your parents that you ate all of your spinach if you can get away with it?  Why not tell your teacher a harmless fib to stop your parents from flogging you with a soup ladel?  It’s not hurting anyone.  And as long as it’s not hurting anyone, then it’s kosher.  As long as you know what really happened, then the what the rest of them know is fundamentally unimportant.  And that is the truth about lying.