Growing up, my parents told me to never lie. Adults say this, but the truth is, every parent lies, especially to kids. Sometimes it’s necessary. The house is on fire; the child’s in danger. There isn’t time to explain why you need to run. Then you have the magical white lies, like Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and Jesus. Sometimes you’re just tired and you don’t give a shit. Your kids asks, “Why can’t I eat the little brown nub on a banana?” You say, “Because it’s poison and you’ll die.”
You’re not trying to traumatize the tyke. You’ve just been beaten down by the barrage of questions. You want the little guy to eat, to nap, to shut up for five seconds, so you can pour yourself a bottle of wine. Yes, a bottle.
My father is the master of mendacity, but the majority of his lies are meaningless. They’re told to move things along. Why mention he was playing poker with the guys when he knows it’s going to cause a fight, and they’re already running fifteen minutes late?
Sometimes you just need to expedite.
But while my father has perfected his skills of deception, my mom tells most lies with the grace of a child caught with her hand in the toilet.
“No, I was not trying to pick up my poo. I was…uh…pushed…by a…werewolf.”
When someone would ask my mom for a favor she didn’t want to do, she’d fumble and stammer until sometimes the person would just walk away to end the awkwardness.
I always assumed my mom just didn’t have it in her to lie, that she was too good, too kind.
That’s what made her coming out so difficult.
Yes, my father had secrets, but not my mom, not something like this. I know she didn’t have a choice, not really. I suppose she could’ve moved to San Francisco or New York, but she met my father and she wanted a family. Their marriage wasn’t perfect, but it was good. They had two kids and a nice house. They had friends, family, and a quiet little life. So my mom swallowed the truth and kept up the big lie until eventually it became too much to bear.
I’m starting to get a sense of that. For years, I’ve prided myself on being extremely honest, but I’m not sure I have been. I know I don’t lie well to others, at least not in person. My face gets red, I can’t hold eye contact, and I keep repeating, “What?” over and over. But even though I don’t fabricate well to others, I’m every bit the master as my father when it comes to lying to myself. No, I didn’t have too much to drink last night. No, I’m not pissing away my talent. Yes, I have a plan to get myself out of debt. Of course, I’m going to sell my novel. Yes, I can lose this weight. I am not going bald. My hairline is just fine…
When my mother told the truth about her sexuality it blew our family to smithereens. We picked up the pieces, and we’re better off because of it, but there’s still residual pain. I fear the same might happen with this blog. Will my need to tell the truth cause the same destruction?
Maybe it would be better if I just lied?
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