Recently, I've come to the realization that I am a liar. Which is kind of funny considering that I'm the type of person who prefers to hear the truth (almost always), even when it hurts. If I'm about to do something stupid, please, I implore you, anyone, to stop me before I make a huge mistake. I tell all my friends to tell me the truth, because that's what friends do. Stop me from making a jackass of myself. Don't let me walk out in public looking like an idiot. Let me know when I've got food stuck in my teeth; don't let me blather on with a chunk of spinach becoming a centerpiece on my front teeth. Let me know if I've got a stain on my shirt that needs to be cleaned off. Tell me if the person I'm dating is a total bitch. Tell me if I'm being a total a$$hole without realizing it. I like it when people tell me the truth. It's a sign of respect and genuine concern.
So why is it
that I have a hard time telling people the truth sometimes? I know
lying is wrong, but then, I find myself telling lies to cover up the
truth. And even in the middle of telling someone a lie, a part of me
knows that maybe I ought to tell the truth. It takes true strength to
tell the truth; and while I'd like to think that I am a strong person,
the truth is, I'm not as strong as I'd like to be sometimes. The truth
is, I don't like to hurt people; so I tell them lies; which is ironic
because lying hurts people sometimes.
A friend called me on the
phone. She had recently given birth to another child a few months ago.
And she was calling to talk. She went on about what her baby was
doing; how much her baby was growing and eating, and how much weight she
had to lose to get back to her pre-pregnant weight. She went on for
several minutes about how rewarding it was to be able to stay home for a
few months to take care of her baby before going back to work. Her
conversation was frequently stalled by yelling at her other kids to stop
doing whatever they were doing, telling me to hold on while she
attended to whatever her other kids were doing, before she came back and
continued telling me the trials and joys of motherhood. All I could do
was say, "Mmm hmmm" and "I hear you" and "Wow, that 's interesting" in
my occasional, perfunctory replies. I got the feeling she was bored and
She asked me if I wanted to come over for dinner and
hang out. If I was a good friend, I would've said, "Sure. I'll come
But at that moment, I realized that I'm not that good of a
friend. I lied to her and said that I had so much work to catch up on
and would be spending the night working. But I didn't have any work. I
just wanted to hang out with my other friends at a World Cup Soccer
party we had planned for the evening. And it was a great party! What a
fantastic performance by team USA! And let me add, how about that
amazing Brazil vs Mexico tie?!
So why didn't I just tell her the
truth of my plans for the evening? It's because I'm a coward in
addition to being a liar. The truth is, I didn't want to hurt her
feelings by letting her know that I'd rather hang out with my other
friends, drinking and partying and watching the game, than come to her
house and feel awkward in the chaos as she juggles control of her kids
and be an unwitting, unwilling witness to the arguments she has with her
husband over some issues. Maybe they feel comfortable or trust me
enough to speak freely in my presence over whatever disagreements they
are having. Or maybe it's the end of a long, tough day and they just
don't care or give a damn who's there. But either way, I feel
uncomfortable, like I'm an intruder in someone's private life, and I
feel uneasy bearing witness to what should be private discussions.
don't like conflict. I was raised to never start a fight; that being
said, I was also taught to stand up and fight for what I believed in and
never give up. I was also taught to be nice to people and try to treat
them right. My mother used to teach us important social skills. I
remember her telling us that if we didn't have anything nice to say
about someone, then don't say anything at all. Try not to hurt people,
if you can. And therein lies the origin of my lying.
Now I don't
lie all the time. In fact, I can be pretty blunt and brutal with
honesty, mostly by design, and a few times without realizing it--most
likely after having a lot of drinks. I value the truth and appreciate
it when people are honest with me. I try to do the same. If I have a
friend who's about to do something dangerous or crazy, of course, I'll
stop them and tell them what I really think. Still, if it's a choice
between telling the truth and telling a lie, if the truth might hurt
that person more than the lie, chances are, I'll lie, especially if it's
something trivial or not that serious. But sometimes, the line between
trivial and serious disappears. And that can seriously complicate
things and make them worse.
Of all the questions that have made
men sweat and panic when confronted with them, one of the most explosive
has to be, "Does this make me look fat?".
And honestly, I've
lied plenty of times and said, "No, you look great." Because the truth
is, I'd rather not hurt that person's feelings by letting them know that
to me, they look like a mushroom cloud of a nuclear explosion with
their body stuffed and bursting out of those really tight, too small
jeans. Also, I'm not a fashion expert, so maybe what looks like sausage
links and ham maybe a fashion trend I'm not aware of. And besides,
I've always felt that if the person felt good and comfortable wearing
those clothes, then who am I to judge? Let them enjoy themselves and
I'll keep my thoughts to myself.
It's a bit trickier and
treacherous when a friend asks you "So what do you think?" when asking
your opinion of their new significant other. I've learned the hard way
that even if the new person is an idiot and a jerk in my opinion, it's
best to err on the side of caution and just answer, "If you're happy,
then I'm happy," and then just try to be happy for your friend. Love is
blind; and your friend won't see or appreciate you pointing out the
faults and shortcomings of their new lover. Best to just stand by and
support your friend; look out for them. And as long as the new partner
doesn't harm them, then let your friend be and keep your opinion to
I've lied to people about the things that are important
to them. A coworker once gushed and excitedly show me her newest pet,
one of those small, bald dogs, mottled skin, mean looking squished face,
somewhat blind and breathing heavily. She asked me, "Isn't he cute?"
I thought to myself, "My gawd! That's the ugliest rat I've ever seen!
It looks like roadkill!" Instead, I said to her, "Wow, I've never seen
anyone quite like him before!". Then proceeded to let my coworker go
on and on about what a beauty her dog was. Well, she was happy with
him. That's important; and the dog had an owner who truly loved him.
also do the same thing when people show me their babies and proclaim
how the baby looks like either the mom or dad. Honestly, I can't tell
if a baby looks like the mom or dad; to me, a baby looks like a baby--a
teeny, tiny, fragile lump. Ask me again in 20 years when that kid has
grown up and looks like an adult and I'll give you a straight answer.
Until then, I just nod and go with whatever the parent is saying. Let
the parents enjoy their baby. As long as that baby is loved, who cares
who the baby looks like?
Liar, liar, pants on fire. White lies
are still lies. And sometimes, lies have the tendency to hurt not just
the people being lied to, but the liar gets hurt as well.
girlfriend surprised me by making dinner after I returned from a long
road trip for work. I was really surprised because she doesn't cook;
and I was moved that she actually made the effort to put something
together for me. During our time together, we usually eat out, order
in, or I cook for the both of us. And after a long trip, I didn't feel
like going out or cooking. Coming home after being away for so long and
finding her waiting there for me was a great surprise. Having her
actually put a meal together was even better!
To be honest, the
salad tasted terrible. It was too citrusy and sour and tasted a bit
off. But I just smiled and complimented her and washed it all down with
the lemonade. The frozen chicken pot pie she had bought from the store
to heat and cook up in the oven was burnt on the top and somehow, still
frozen on the bottom. She apologized but I lied to her and said it
tasted good and I liked it. I couldn't really tell her how horrible it
was. Not after she went through all that effort.
It was a
struggle for her to learn how to cook. She was one of those people who
rarely followed the recipe; and then wonders why the food turned out
terrible. And if she did follow the recipe, she'd have trouble
adjusting it to real life, focusing too much on the content, not
context, like keeping the heat at medium high, rather than lowering it
when the food starts to cook too hot too fast, so in the end, it gets
burned. She also can't adapt the time, keeping to a strict time limit,
rather than taking the food out of the oven when it's ready, she'll let
it burn just to keeps the exact time the recipe states the food should
be in the oven; and of course, she'll also take it out when it's not
quite cooked yet, just because the recipe time was reached, rather than
let it finish cooking for a just a few minutes more. So we end up with
I don't know if cooking is an art or skill or a
gift; maybe it's all of the above. But I wasn't born a cook; I learned
through trial and error and like any skill, through practice, I've
developed a sense of how to put meals together. I'd like to think that
anyone can cook if they put in the time and effort and practice. But
then again, people are different. And what may be obvious and readily
learned by one person may be difficult for another to understand.
meal was barely edible, but it was made palatable by the fact that my
girlfriend had put in the time and effort to create something for us to
share and enjoy. And I didn't care that it tasted awful; what mattered
was that she tried and made the effort to make something special.
Sometimes, nothing demonstrates love and devotion like a home cooked
meal. Looking at her eager, proud face, I didn't have the heart to tell
her that the food tasted terrible; so I lied and told her it was
great. I was truthful about how much I truly appreciated her
efforts and the time she put in to create this unexpected meal. It
proved that she loved me. And after dinner, I was given further proof
that she really did love me, and when I was left to spend the night
alone afterwards, I was bathed in the complete knowledge that this woman
truly loved me and I was truly a very lucky man.
later, my luck had changed for the worst, and I began to doubt her love
for me as I spent the rest of the night throwing up in the bathroom.
Love may conquer all, but it sure as hell can't save you from food
poisoning. As I laid there on the bathroom floor, alternating between
vomiting and dry heaving, sweating one minute then freezing the next,
and praying to god--any god!--for relief, I started to wonder if she was
some assassin sent to kill me. I pondered what crimes and sins I had
committed to earn such hatred and vengeance; surely, there were quicker
ways to kill me! Perhaps she enjoyed making me suffer a long, agonizing
death. Was it part of the killing contract to prolong my suffering?
funny the crazy things that go on in your head when you feel sick and
weak and dehydrated. I remember thinking, "My gawd, I haven't even
unpacked yet! And my dirty laundry! What's going to happen to my dirty
laundry? I hope whoever finds my body washes my laundry. I've got
some nice pants in that laundry. And my camping trip! What's going to
happen to my tent and gear? I haven't packed my new supplies together
yet. Now I'll never know if those bug repellant alternatives to DEET
can keep the mosquitoes from biting me." Thankfully, I passed out soon
I awoke a few hours later on that cold floor. I managed
to gather enough strength to crawl into the tub and hose off; and when I
was done showering, I made it back to the bed where I passed out for a
few hours more. I woke much later feeling much better. I was able to
get out of bed and found a bottle of ginger ale that I took sips of as I
recuperated in the living room.
It suddenly dawned on me that my
girlfriend might have suffered the same fate as I had. I called her
and sure enough, she had felt sick, too. She didn't eat as much as I
did the night before, but she was still nauseous. Then she asked me if I
had been sick, too.
And I immediately lied to her and said,
"Nope. I 'm just tired from the trip" I couldn't bring myself to tell
her the truth that she had poisoned us with her attempt at cooking. I
didn't have it in me to discourage her and make her feel bad about how
things turned out. She worked so hard and she deserved some credit for
I told her that I was coming over later and we ended our
phone call. I showed up at her place with some ginger ale and
crackers. They're the easiest and gentlest things we could've eaten
after feeling sick. I stuck to my story of being tired after such a
long time on the road for work. We were curled up on the sofa when I
once again thanked her and praised her for surprising me with such a
memorable meal--it may have been a disastrous meal for me, but it sure
was something I won't ever forget.
I asked her about how she put
the meal together. And she beamed proudly and told me about her
efforts. I asked her about the salad and if she used oranges or lemons
to make the salad dressing. She looked confused and told me no, she
just used oil and vinegar to make the salad dressing.
Now I was
confused. I was pretty sure I detected some very strong citrus flavor
in the dressing and I told her so. She told me it must have been from
the citrus oil. Now I was even more confused. Citrus oil? She told me
that she used the citrus oil that I had on the kitchen counter. I
racked my brains trying to think of when I bought any citrus oil. And I
couldn't remember ever buying any citrus flavored oil. I thought about
the stuff that I left on the kitchen counter, and other than a trivet
for hot pots and pans and some small kitchen appliances, the only other
things I had left on the counter were the new camping supplies.
it dawned on me. To my horror, I knew exactly where that citrus flavor
had come from; it was the source of our poison. And it was my fault
for leaving it out on the kitchen counter. But I had done it to remind
myself to pack it with the other supplies for my camping trip. It took
all my strength to play it cool and pretend that I did buy some citrus
flavored oil and I had left it out on the counter. I didn't have the
heart to tell her that it wasn't citrus flavored oil she had used in
making the salad dressing. Instead, it was citronella oil that she had
used; that would be a mosquito repellent alternative to DEET that I was
going to try out for the camping trip! The salad dressing was made with
I blamed myself. Sure, some may say, how
come she didn't realize that she was using mosquito repellent instead of
actual salad oil? Well, it doesn't help that the bottle of citronella
oil looks like a small bottle of salad oil. And I was the one who left
on the kitchen counter, so she could be forgiven for mistaking it for
salad oil. Perhaps if I had made an honest effort to question the
off-putting taste of the salad, I would've discovered that citronella
oil was used in the salad and I would've saved myself a long night of
unintentional, self-inflicted torture. If I had been honest, I would've
saved both of us some suffering and from being sick.
think that I would've learned from this awful experience to tell the
truth. But nope. I still tell lies. I really don't want to hurt
anyone's feelings with the truth, so I keep on lying. Even if lying
leads to suffering all around!
After work, I picked up some
muffins and some Irish Cream and French Vanilla coffees before stopping
at my friend's house for a short visit. I felt kind of guilty for lying
to her so I could go the World Cup Soccer party. Not that I would tell
her about the party. She didn't need to know. And also, I kind of
felt like it would be nice for the both of us to enjoy a short visit
together. I called her to see if it was okay if I stopped by to see
her, and she was ecstatic.
I showed up at her door with the
muffins (most of which her kids happily devoured) and let her pick which
coffee she'd like to drink. I was given a quick peek at the sleeping
baby before we returned to the kitchen where we caught each other up on
what's been going on. She was starting to make dinner and asked me to
stay for dinner, but I told her I couldn't as I had other things to
do--yes, another World Cup Soccer party but I wasn't going to tell her
Our conversation was interrupted by her kids, who asked me
if I wanted to play the Memory Game with them. Honestly, I didn't want
to play the Memory Game then. The Memory Game is a card game made up of
pairs of pictures. You play by placing all the cards upside down, then
shuffling the cards and arranging them in rows and columns on the
table. Each person takes a turn to flip one card up, then try to find
and flip up the other card with the matching picture. If you find the
pair, you keep the matching pair and you keep going. If you don't match
your cards, you flip the cards back down and someone else gets their
turn. The person who makes the most matches win.
Memory Game is one of those really fun kids card games; great for
families. But right then, I really wasn't motivated to play the Memory
Game. I had a party to go to, drinks to drink, and a team to cheer on.
But looking at those kids eager faces, I couldn't help but lie to them
and say, "Sure, I'd love to play the Memory Game with y'all."
we proceeded to play a few boisterous rounds of the Memory Game,
complete with the kids squeals of joy and laughter. With a new baby in
the house, I figured the kids were probably craving some attention,
especially since their parents were probably busy with the new baby. No
kid wants to be forgotten or left out. I knew that by the time we were
done playing, I'd be late to the party and miss out the beginning of
the game. But looking at these kids happy faces and hearing them laugh,
I think I made the right decision.
They say that the truth will
set you free. And I believe it and I've lived it. The most liberating
and empowering experiences of my life were when I spoke the truth,
stood up for what I believed in, and fought for the people I cared for
and the ideals I believed in. Truth will set you free. But if lies
will bind me, well, I don't mind, so long as I'm bound in the knowledge
that the lies I've told bring genuine joy and happiness to the ones I
love and hold most dear. Some day, I'll be strong enough to tell the
whole truth and nothing but the truth. But until then, until I find a
way better way to keep the truth from hurting people, I'll have to make
do with being a liar. Hopefully, my pants won't catch fire; I have some
very nice pants.