Warning: naughty language ahead!
We do it for selfish reasons, we do it for the greater good and we do it for entertainment.
There’s no way to sugar coat it—we all do it. From stretching the truth to perjury, we all do it. Fibs, little white lies, lying by omission, half truths, tall tales, fiction. Call it what you will but a lie is still a lie. Chances are, if you’re a human being you have lied. More than once—today.
Phychology today states that the average person lies 1.65 times per day. That’s 11.55 times per week, 49.67 times per month and 602.25 lies per year.
That’s a whole lot of lying.
There are big, big lies like the Trojan Horse and little harmless lies like caffeinated undies to zap cellulite off your backside (yes, this product actually exists). We lie to our bosses, our parents, our partners, our kids, our friends, strangers, the bartender and the IRS. We lie about the fact that we lie.
Sure we like to think that we don’t lie. In fact most of us will argue that we absolutely do not lie. It doesn’t feel good to be “a liar” and it doesn’t sound good either.
“Hi my name is______. I have a wife and two kids, I am a dentist, a soccer player, a foster parent, a grandson, an Aquarius, a philanthropist, oh, and a bit of a liar.”
But lying can also be fun.
In December 1999 I had a friend who was convinced that Y2K was going to be the end of the world as we knew it. She had stashed hundreds of gallons of water. A hundred pounds each of rice, beans and noodles. She spent hours building a chicken coop and filled it with plump hens that would feed her children through the coming apocalypse.
She was convinced and prepared.
On New Years Eve at 9:00 p.m. pacific time I called her as I watched the ball drop in time square on television. I frantically sobbed into the phone “Oh my God, oh my God, you were right…It’s all over TV….the ball was dropping and New York City went black.” The phone on her end dropped and rolled across the floor as she screamed “I knew it! Fuck you guys I knew it… I was right!” She screamed and screamed and I laughed until I couldn’t stand up.
I do not regret that lie because fourteen years later I still laugh when I think of it.
There are well meaning lies that parents tell their children. Sweet lies to help them fall asleep at night and keep them feeling safe.
We lie to thrill, excite and entertain them but some of the lies we tell them are pretty damn creepy if you think about it. We tell lies about a gigantic bunny hiding colored eggs in the yard and sneaking into our homes while we sleep to leave baskets of candy.
I have a baggie fully of rotten kid teeth that I “purchased” from the tooth fairy who incidentally also snuck into the house while we were sleeping to leave money and take an old used up tooth for god knows what purpose.
When my kids were small we built fairy fences to keep the fairies away from the garden and I still ten years after the fact, vividly remember a late night call from an exacerbated friend who when I answered simply said “I need to speak to Santa about Mckayla.” In the background Mckayla screamed “No, no, no, I promise I will be good!”
We lie to our kids because we can—and lets just face it, it makes being a parent much more fun.
When my kids were small we lived out of town in the forest near a creek. On a hot August day the hill kids were playing at the creek. A group of six or eight of them, all between the ages of five and 10. They were under the down side of the culvert throwing rocks and shouting through it, laughing at the echoes.
Before long their curse words bounced about inside the metal tube. The hadn’t noticed me walking up the road toward them. They howled Shit….shit…shit…shit…Bitch… bitch…bitch… their words echoed again and again followed by giggles from the girls and roars from the boys.
I wrapped the black shawl I was wearing over my head and silently crawled down the creek-side at the opposite side of the culvert. The light was fading, shadows played on the water, in the trees and on the field. Ass….ass…ass…ass….. rang out through the pipe.
My words came out in a long slow voice even I couldn’t recognize as my own. “Little children shouldn’t cuss…..” I wailed followed by dead silence. I ducked out of sight waiting patiently until the children must have decided that they had imagining the voice.
The cursing resumed and I repeated, my body wrapped in black and pressed against the metal “Little children should never curse…” I could hear their screams as I ran fast up the creek through ferns and nettles and the thick underbrush cackling as I went.
I ran crouching over the spring, behind the pond, through the pet cemetery and in the back door of the house. In one swift movement I stashed my shoes and the black shawl, pulled the leaves and branches from my hair and dove onto the couch, silencing my breath and closing my eyes as the kids ran through the front door.
“There’s a witch on the hill, we all saw her!” they said almost in unison.
I rubbed my eyes and yawned. They were excited and terrified begging me to come and find her. I looked for my shoes and went through the motions of waking up from a luxurious summer evening nap. They were talking so fast and loud as we walked up the hill I could hardly understand them.
Each kid thought they saw her behind a rock or in a tree or running on the road ahead. They would squeal and grab each other, afraid to move forward but to curious to stay behind. We made it to the culvert where they explained that they were in no way cussing but the witch thought they were. “Because she didn’t speak English” was one explanation, another was “because she was so old she couldn’t hear anymore.”
By the end of the next day the story grew from “a witchy sort of lady yelled at us through the culvert” to “a crazy old lady witch was going to kill and eat us.”
I listened as they told the story to a neighbor and described the witch. She had a hunchback and long stringy grey hair. She had beady eyes and warts all over her face. She had gnarled up hands with sharpened fingernails and she smelled really, really bad. Her teeth were rotting out and she was the ugliest thing they had ever seen.
She tried to kill them and then disappeared into the the woods. The Witch of Minnow Creek became a legend.
I never told the Hill kids the truth about that day—I lied. They lied. We all lied….and it was fun.
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Editor: Catherine Monkman