This story was originally conceived a few years ago, while driving my then-boyfriend to the Olympic Peninsula. He was about to move to Canada for six months to work on a film. We had spend the last month packing up his belongings, preparing his house for tenants, and attending a seemingly endless lineup of going-away parties in his honor.
“What if you’re not moving to Montreal at all, and it’s all just a front for a big secret plan to commit suicide,” I joked. He did not appreciate this but I thought it was hilarious. For the rest of the trip, whenever there was a moment of silence that didn’t involve making out, I went back to this idea. I’ve been thinking about it since…And oh, he really did go to Canada for work and of course, he’s been back home in the States for years now, alive and well.
P.S. I’m breaking this story into two parts because it’s long and I like to pretend that someone out there is enjoying the suspense!
Rule number one for successful lying is getting your facts straight. I mean, really know your subject matter. You’ve got to create a whole backstory and it’s got to built on a foundation on hard data. Go to the library. Do some hardcore googling. Make some flashcards and practice if your memory is a bit soft. Stuff your head with names and statistics until your brain has no choice but to accept the lie as the truth. If you believe it, then so will everyone you tell.
Rule number two is simple: make that shit believable. If you don’t feel like going to a co-worker’s party, don’t say that you were in a car accident. Because that’s going to require some evidence. Unless you feel like wearing one of those hilarious whiplash neck braces for a few weeks and taking a sledgehammer to your bumper, this is not a believable lie. And of course you can’t say that your grandma had a stroke because that’s just tempting fate. Keep it simple. Food poisoning is always good. A broken sink and a the ensuing emergency visit from the plumber might work, but just remember that you’re only going to be able to use that excuse once.
Lest you think less of me, I have to tell you that I’m actually a terribly honest person. As a child, only lying was the only crime that qualified for my mother’s version of capital punishment–a spanking in the kitchen with a metal spatula, Time and time again I watched my brother cry and wail for clemency as he white-knuckled the metal trim around the sink, his grass-stained pants around his ankles. He concocted the most ridiculous lies, from thieves sneaking into the house to empty the lunch money jar (while his closet was littered with candy bar wrappers) to accidentally being given the “wrong” report card (although his name was clearly typed across the top in all-caps). I was scared straight. My ass was far too delicate to face my mother’s wrath.
No, I think that lying is only acceptable in two situations: extreme emergencies and protecting the feelings of others. I had a boyfriend in my twenties who lied and lied and lied. He was a savant of fabrication. He would be snuggled up in bed next to me, drinking a morning beer while he told his boss on the other end of the phone that he couldn’t come to work because his mother was bravely battling breast cancer. He could convincingly cry on demand. By the time he hung up, all of his co-workers would be working on a quilt to send his mother in the hospice. And setting up prayer circles and breast cancer awareness fundraisers. Did it hurt, I would ask when he finally hung up. When they installed your silver tongue? Meanwhile his mother was sunning herself on a beach in Cabo or having that month’s dose of Botox injected into her smooth forehead, healthy as the proverbial horse. Continue reading