I would like to preface by saying that I do not condone lying unless absolutely necessary for safety or otherwise. These are just my thoughts as someone who used to lie frequently and has learned where it has its place and where it is harmful.
I’ve always known lying is wrong. My mother taught me that from the youngest age she could. I would lie to try and save my ass when I got in trouble as a kid, but my mother had a keen eye for conning and could read my brothers and I better than anyone.
When I was ten years old, in the fifth grade, I stole candy from my mother’s stash saved for Halloween. I always thought it a bit peculiar for her to buy candy in advance, as if Walmart would run out come Halloween and the neighbors would judge her or something. I started taking one or two pieces of candy every other day or so, enough to satisfy my sweet tooth but not enough for her to notice. I never thought to plan for the day that she found the half-filled bag with a clean-scissor-cut to the corner, only a few days before Halloween. My naive self believed she would think nothing of it. I was purely focused on my never-relenting sweet tooth.
My mother was downright livid, face red as roasted tomatoes. My biggest issue with lying was not how frequently I did it, granted that wasn’t great either, but rather how badly I did it. You would think I would hone my lies with time, but no, I relied on my ignorant will alone. My face instantly filled with warmth as she angrily asked my brothers and I, watching TV after school, who did it. As soon as I was known to be the culprit my punishment was the worst that my mother has ever given me in my childhood. I was forbidden from trick-or-treating that year, and my brothers were not allowed to share any of their candy with me except a single caramel apple lollipop.
I remember eating my lollipop in tears as I watched all the other kids walking up and down my street. The huge front window attached to the living room of my house gave me a perfect view of everything I was missing. You’d think this would be enough for me to never lie again, especially not to my mother, but of course not. Only a year later, as an eleven year old sixth grader, I stole from my mother’s stash of candy she kept for the students she coached on the track team. After that, I learned to never steal from my mother again, but I did not stop lying.
The years that ensued, as I grew into teenagerhood, were filled with deceit on my part. I finally began honing my lies, my craft. I got much better at it. I was able to lie with a straight face and manage the pounding of my heart or the shakiness of my breath. I was finally able to look someone in the eyes as I lied to them. Hell, I got so good at lying that my mother believed me to still be the terrible liar I had been as a child. Funnily enough, my father, a detached figure in my life, knew how good I was at lying. I don’t know how he was able to tell, but he could. It was only after the fact of lying that he knew, though. He never seemed to know in the moment of saving my own ass.
Even knowing that my father was aware of my deceptions, I never stopped lying. The lies that began as a silly kid stealing candy soon turned into a foolish teenager lying to their parents about their whereabouts and sobriety.
Like most teenagers I knew, I began smoking pot and experimenting with alcohol and nicotine. One night when I was 16, my mother picked me up at the park where I was hanging out with my friends. I made them stop smoking pot half an hour before she said she’d be there, and stop any kind of inhalation other than that of oxygen five minutes before. If I smelled any bit like pot or cigarette smoke my mother would catch me. At that time, my tolerance was much lower than it is now, so concealing my inebriation was a bit more difficult.
My mother pulled into the park’s parking lot in her silver Subaru Forester. She honked once. I said goodbye to my friends and made my way over to the car in the darkness of the evening. On my way over I did my best to wet my mouth with the saliva already there, drinking water may have looked too suspicious. I opened my eyes just a tiny bit more so that they may not look like they were sloping.
Opening the passenger door, I pull on a big smile, maybe too big. My mother smiles tightly at me, like she knew what was happening but couldn’t prove it.
“How was your night?” She asks.
“Good, we just walked around and went to group.”
That was easy enough, I thought, should be enough to keep the rest of the conversation away from the night’s activities. I didn’t tell her about the joints and bowls that my friends and I smoked. I didn’t tell her that we went to group high out of our minds knowing everyone would be able to tell. I didn’t tell her that Gale offered me gin and I took three sips. Those were things she never needed to know. If she did, she’d never allow me out with my friends again.
She nodded and put the car in drive, beginning to pull out of the parking lot and begin the 20 minute drive home. The rest of the car ride was silent. I could feel the tension around us, but in my state I couldn’t feel the full scale of it. I should have known, even if it would be a few years away, my lying would catch up to me. I should have known with the wrath my mother had displayed when I was a child that lying about smoking and drinking as a minor would play out much, much worse. Only a year later at seventeen would I slip up, giving my mother the proof she’d been waiting for.
To Be Continued