Wednesday, March 12, 2008

On Lying

In the book To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout sagely observes, "one must lie under certain circumstances and at all times when one can't do anything about them." That kind of lying is no fun, and is what I term "Survival Lying." It's the kind of prevaricating we invariably practice out of kindness to our mothers, in tolerance of our in-laws, and with sheer instinct for our children. Serious business, that kind of lying. How many times have you said outrageous untruths in emergency rooms, seriously minimizing the level of pain or the number of stitches? How many times have you told your mother that "it's no trouble at all?" And the in-laws...grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Then there's the fun kind of lying--what I call "Recreational Lying." This is really best done with children, of course, because they are most gullible. (Certainly, if you have some of your own, this is easier and safer.) Often, when the boys were little and we would go out to dinner I would lie to Jared and Sam about the status of their meals. They were usually hungry and a little impatient, so after several minutes, one of them would say, "Mom, how much longer?" I would say, "Oh, I forgot to tell you! A little bit ago, a big dog sneaked into the kitchen and ate up your dinner! They have to start all over." Or, if I heard a loud noise, I'd immediately turn to one of them and say, "Sounds like they dropped your dinner and now they have to start all over!" After a while, naturally, that would get old, so I'd have to be more inventive. I would excuse myself and go to the restroom or wander over to another area of the restaurant, then return and tell one of them that I'd overheard one of the waiters talking about how they'd run out of whatever one of the boys had ordered and that they'd had to send a member of the kitchen staff to the grocery store to get more. I know it sounds mean, but really, after they'd look very tragic, I'd assure them I was kidding, and then they were so grateful that they'd be thrilled when their dinner was out sooner.

And you'd be surprised how often and how long they fell for it.

Then, there's a whole other genre of lying that's kind of gender-based. You know, Chick Lying. Don't make me flash my Feminist Card! You know what I'm talking about, and you know I'm telling the truth! Women lie about Certain Things, and that's just The Way It Is.

1. Weight. I will always tell the truth about my pants size and my dress size and my shoe size, but there is no effin' way I will ever tell you my weight. When I was heavy, I lied. Now that I'm a size 2, I will still lie if anyone dares ask me. And when I was in trouble with Dr. Doogie for being way too thin, I lied the other way and told people I was heavier than I was. It's a thing.

2. Recipes. Oh, sure, I'll give you the recipe. But not The Real Recipe The Way I Actually Make It. Because I don't really follow it. Because I don't really measure. And because if I give you The Recipe, then you can make it too and mine won't be special and wonderful and in demand and then maybe I won't be, either.

Those are the two Chick Things I lie about. There are other Chick Things to lie about, I know. Some women lie about age; I don't. Hey, I'm in public education--every year is a victory. I am often accused of lying about coloring my hair. I don't. I'm fortunate enough to have inherited the Slow-Greying Gene from my dad. If you are close to me, you can see the grey hairs; they are definitely there. Will I ever dye my hair? I'm vain enough to know better than to say no. I'm hoping to grey in a very stylish way so that I won't have to because A) I'm cheap and B) I'm lazy. The upkeep would kill me. But my natural color is very, very dark. Grey hair is not. Sigh.

Do I have to even mention Guy Lying? They're just not good at it. They're all over the place, too. No specialization. Reminds me of the republicans.


  1. I lie about my weight, pretty much whenever anyone asks. I don't lie about recipes, because I want people to make it and say, "wow, that J, she always has such awesome recipes!". I don't lie about my age, but I also am not going gray quickly. Hmmm. What else? Considering I just got into an argument a few hours ago with my daughter about lies and trust? I'd say I try not to lie any more than I have to, so I can be a decent, if not good, example.

  2. Anonymous1:22 AM

    Here is some inspiration for going gray gracefully-

    love your blog!

  3. Hee hee... the thing about recipes for me is that I hardly ever actually make them. If I'm in love with something that you've made, I will ask you to make it again and again because I am lazy and want to be sure you feel needed. ;)

    Sometimes I dye my hair, then deal with it as it grows out because I, too and lazy and am not especially fond of the upkeep of coloring my hair. And the gray? I have more of a white streak, really...

  4. The other day I heard that, with regard to harmless lying, men will lie about their height and women will lie about their weight. I don't think of it as lying so much as just "rounding off the numbers" a bit. Just like they taught us in junior high math.

  5. Guy lying? Oh, sheesh. Can you say, Eliot Spitzer? Or former governor John Rowland? That's only the beginning. You got me started.

  6. My cooking style is so weird. Alot of my best recipes aren't really written down and I just add and taste as needed. So therefore when I say there isn't really a recipe, there isn't. Sometimes people don't get that and I get accused of lying.

    I don't ever lie about weight, I just don't tell it. It's like a vault or something. :)

    And haircolor? A nurse complimented me on it Monday. Through my groggy-ness and everything I replied, thanks....exquisite ash blonde, unnaturally mine.

  7. simplypink--yeah, there's that, too--the "I just made it up" recipe. I do those all the time, especially with pasta dishes. I just made one the other night with chicken, kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes...wait, I can't tell you the rest. LOL.

    sputnik--sigh. and spitzer is a democrat. urgh.

    a.b.--i heard that, too, that men overestimate their height. must be an "inches" thing. LOL LOL LOL. and i thought they lived by the mantra "size doesn't matter!"

    ck--now, see, if i could "go grey" with drama like a white streak, that would be so cool. not like lily munster...but in a very diva-like way. you know what i mean.

    anonymous--oh, thanks, and welcome to the Dept.! hope you come by often and chat us up. i'm headed over to the link you suggested. i'm all about "grace."

    j. @--sigh. the trust talk. don't you hate it? i don't know which i hated more, getting that talk or giving it. both were heinous. probably HAVING TO give it.

  8. Bwahahaha! Go grey with drama! I love that! I guess I'll have to wait until the streak fills in a bit more to call it dramatic. :)

  9. Hmmm...this really got the brain juices a-flowing! I don't lie about my weight, I just don't disclose it...I don't lie about my sizes, but do detest a certain person I know that likes to announce to the entire shoe store what size shoe I wear! I can't really think of anything else I "stretch the truth" about, but if I do, I will get back to you.

    The "Pants on Fire" totally moved me by the way!!!!

  10. are bad, bad, bad... In the new Charlize Theron movie there is a scene where she says that when a woman asks you how old she looks, she wants you to lie and say how old she wants to be. My husband was one of those rare, painfully honest, tell you too much of the truth types. On the day he asked me to marry him he told me that he woke up that morning planning on breaking up with me... sigh... He would have made a great president.

  11. laura--you know, i totally get that line from your husband. sometimes, in a relationship, it can only go those 2 ways: time to get married, or time to break up. glad he chose your marriage.

    tera--your comment about shoe size got me thinking. doesn't it seem to you that now, larger shoe sizes are more common? i can recall thinking that my size 8.5-9 foot was enormous and that all my friends were wearing 6.5 and 7's. now when i scour the sale racks, it's all 6-7's!!

    ck--keep me posted! lol.

  12. YES ON THE RECIPES! My roommate often asks how I make such-and-such, and if it's a recipe I've found online, I give it to her without my tweaks. But it really gets me when it's either one of my grandma's recipes or something I've come up with on my own...then I say, "well, it's a secret!" And then blather something about what goes into it, but nothing specific. I don't want her to be able to copy my meals, they're MINE!

  13. " And you'd be surprised how often and how long they fell for it."

    That's because they were boys. A girl would have known you were fibbing right from the start.

    I could tell my boys anything and they would believe me, but I had to be very careful what I tried to tell my daughter.

    Even when they were really little they were different. If the ice cream truck came on the street and the boys asked for money to buy a popsicle, if I said, "I don't have any money today", they would accept that. If I said the same thing to my girl(4 years old) she would give me attitude (hand on hip,etc,) and say," Write him a check." Very different......

    I really enjoy your blog. Always interesting.

  14. 1. I don't lie about weight, I just don't give out any numbers, except to my doctor who reads the scales anyway. The rest is there to see, so who's going to believe the lie anyway?

    2. I have never lied about my age because for years I thankfully looked younger than I was. Now, not so much. But if anyone asks, I'll tell. Except maybe to men, but they're smart enough most of the time not to ask.

    3. Recipes: I'm happy to give someone a recipe if they really want it (and even if they don't, as seen on my blog), but I, too, rarely follow a recipe as laid out, and adapt my own version or make them up, so it's hard to sit down and think of all the fiddly things I do that make it turn out the way it does. One thing I never do, though, is refuse to give a recipe point blank, like certain women who think they own the copyright on their recipe and will be forever on some sort of culinary pedestal because no one can ever figure out how they made that perfect key lime pie. Gaaahh!

    That's all. Oops... forgot grey hair. Mine was half grey by the time I was 35. I did not inherit the right aging genes for that. So I have dyed my hair for years, since the grey is not attractive with my hair color (not one of those "salt & pepper" effects, for example.) I don't lie about that either, because, like my weight, it is obvious, and even more so if I am overdue for a touch-up. Which I am right now. Good job it is spring break, lol.

    P.S. Here's something I think a lot of women lie about: their shoe size!

  15. ortizzle--shoe size, really? i think, overall, women's feet have gotten bigger (see my comment to tera). hmmm....i'll be asking around at The Rock this week.

    nancy--that may be true, the difference in gullibility being a gender thing. i like to think it was my impeccable delivery, but you may be right. and thank you for the compliment. i really do try to make my posts worth your considerable time.

    jenomena--i feel you, girl! LOL. unlike Ortizzle, i really feel that some recipes, whether they are heirloom or not, are perfectly fine to keep to oneself. if i perfected my, say PESTO recipe, which I have, hell-be-damned-sure that i am NOT GIVING IT OUT NO WAY NO HOW. it is perfection, it is marketable (i do sell it on the side at my herb demos and lectures), and NO ONE WILL EVER GET IT. whew. sorry. got a bit strident there.

  16. Little kids always ask me how old I am. "A lady never tells". Then they tell me how old their mom is. Little kids always tell.

    The best lie to a kid I ever heard was a friend of mine who had her boys believing that their battery-powered toys would melt if they ran them too long. Brillant!

  17. "That song from the '80's that went "Lies, Lies, Lies, yeah" just popped into my head. I used to love that song. : )

    I guess there are some lies that we need to say just to make it from day to day without being rude. But politicians nowadays just seem to be over the top with them. *sigh*

  18. I lie to my husband about shopping. I like to do what I call secret-shopping. I buy stuff, sneak it into the house and put it away. I'll leave it hidden for a week or maybe a month. That way, when I do pull out that new outfit or pair of shoes and he asks me if it's new, when I tell him "no, I bought this a while ago" I'm not really lying. I don't know why I do this, he really doesn't care how much I shop. But for some reason, I find it to be so much fun!

  19. I hope you enjoy spring break!!! I see the weather fairy has brought something white and special to kick it off!

  20. nina--it's so depressing, this snow! i still have a huge mound on my deck, and now my lawn is covered again. some "spring" break. bah!

    anali--it's best to keep one's expectations realistic when it comes to politics. sigh. why do you think there's the old axiom "politics as usual"?

    j.--i love that kid lie!


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