December 4, 2007

Lies! Lies, I Tell You

Our daughter is two and a half years old and already a pathological liar. Okay, perhaps I'm exaggerating a bit. At this point, I don't think she means to be deceptive. Just funny. She's not trying to con us into leaving a house full of booze for a week or trying to get her hands on the car keys for a night of joyriding. Yet. I'll ask her if she's a girl. She'll say no. I'll ask her who's the better Van Halen vocalist - David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar (Gary Cherone should never be considered as a possible answer to this argument) - and she'll say Sammy (and while I technically agree with her, everyone knows the correct answer isn't based on talent but attitude and that has to be DLR). She claims that the seminal episode of Cheers is the one with the squeaky shoes while the rest of us know it's the Screaming Viking episode.

Most of the time she does this to see our reaction. And after getting it - wide eyes or a furrowed brow - she almost immediately changes her answer. But what I don't think she realizes yet - hopefully - is that we all have an absolute, inherent need to lie. I don't mean we have some compulsion we can't get past (although that does exist). Instead, I firmly believe there is absolutely no way we can consistently tell the truth without alienating those around us.

- Do you agree with the premise that lying is an inescapable part of life?
- What's the most extravagant lie you've ever told? And what's the juiciest?

I don't remember my juiciest lie but I do recall my most extravagant. I once worked with a rather racially insensitive individual. He was Indian and claimed that another coworker - a friend of mine who was Indian herself - couldn't have been Indian because her name didn't sound Indian enough. I then illustrated the old axiom about judging books by their covers; I explained to him that I was proud of my Chinese heritage, having been born to two Chinese parents in mainland China, where I spent the first 15 years of my life. I became so frustrated that, during the course of the argument, I reverted to long and entirely meaningless exclamations in fake Chinese. And he bought it. Dumbass.

Posted by Chris at December 4, 2007 7:10 AM
Comments

That is hilarious.

I am a firm believer in the fact that telling the truth all the time is not the way to go. You have to lie sometimes. People who consider themselves "Straight shooters" have few friends... and even they themselves probably lie at some point.

Hell, it's cool to lie to our children to make their childhood more fun. So how can we be expected not to lie to spare someones feelings?

Or just for the sheer fun of it? :)

Posted by: Cassandra at December 4, 2007 7:58 AM

I do think we HAVE to lie. There are good lies and bad ones.

Here is my whopper. My mother grew up speaking Spanish but did not look like anything but American. In junior high one of my guy friends was at my house and he heard her speaking to my grandmother on the phone. I told him that my family was Polish and that we had snuck into this country and to please NEVER tell anyone. He believed me through high school. At our 10 reunion I was laughing about this and realized he still believed it!

Posted by: DebbieDoesLife at December 4, 2007 8:04 AM

I think that blatant lies shouldn't be part of life, but that sometimes you have to skirt around the truth. It's still lying, of course, but I think intent has a lot to do with it, yknow?
I think the biggest lie I tell on a regular basis is "I'm fine." But the biggest lie ever? I really don't know. Maybe I'll come up with something later ;-)

Posted by: Heather at December 4, 2007 8:25 AM

OK. I was on the top of Mount Washington with my old dachshund, Shubi. (Then aged 9) It was so horrible (weather wise) 50 mile an hour winds, foggy, raining, and it was also the end of their season. October 20 something. So there was no one there, but Hubby and I and some overseas friends.
Anyway, The sign in the museum at the top says, "No Dogs". But what am I to do with this 20 pound dog in this weather? I couldn't find the car as it was lost in the fog and rain, so I just walked in.
Shubi sat down under the table like a good dog (she was trained for this) and we were warming up with coffee, when a parks service officer came over and told me to take the dog out and tie it up on the rail!
Now for crying out loud! Talk about being blown away to the Land of Oz!
So before I could even think that what I was doing was wrong, I blurted out..."She's a service dog".
And they believed me. When they asked what for I then blurted out..."Epilepsy".
Okay, I know,I will burn in hell for this, but Shubi was not being loud, noisy or anything. She was sitting quietly and they were being stupid!
And that, my friend is my biggest lie I ever told.

Posted by: Maribeth at December 4, 2007 8:32 AM

First of all, I have to side with Mia on the VanHalen question. Sorry. But I have an emotional attachment to "5150" that has nothing to do with musical talent so it's Sammy all the way for me.

And yes, we do all have to tell lies to operate in polite society.

I can't say what lies I've told that were juicy or whoppers. I know I once told a big fat one when I was about seven to get the girl down the street in trouble - she was horribly mean so I told someone on the street she had called me a bad name with profanity it and she got grounded. I think we moved away before she got ungrounded so I never had to deal with her wrath.

Posted by: donna at December 4, 2007 9:11 AM

There are lies and then there are LIES and it can be confusing to kids that one is okay; the other isn't.

My son's dad told some whoppers and my older boy is just like him. They called it "making a good story better" As in the fish that got away getting bigger with each retelling.

He spoke fluent Spanish and when we first met he told me his mother was from Mexico, a school teacher, and had lived here since she was quite young. Once we became serious and then married, he never had the nerve to tell me the truth; that she was pure Arkansas born and raised. Imagine my surprise(and hers)when we moved to her town in Arkansas and I met this obviously southern lady who'd never set foot out of the States. Neither of us ever let him live it down.

Me? I'm normally truthful about myself but I was raised to have decent manners. Telling someone the truth about my opinion of their hairdo or dress accomplishes nothing except hurt feeings. Why do it? I can think of something tactful without gushing.

Posted by: ann adams at December 4, 2007 9:19 AM

I cannot think of one dang thing to say here other than I agree with you about lies. I am sure I have told some juicy terrible lies (generally during my teenage years and also with regards to school assignments or why I was late for work...)

Posted by: Christina at December 4, 2007 9:22 AM

While I can't think of some huge heinous lie I've told, I do tell small lies - because you're right, you can't avoid them without alienating people. Or something like that. The most obnoxious lies I think are the ones that create more work for the liar (i.e. "Santa Is Real" and "yes there is a tooth fairy"). I really wish we had never shared those little fibs in our house - because it's getting REALLY old having to hide special Santa wrapping paper. i sooo can't wait til someone bursts my kids' bubbles on the santa thing.

Posted by: Sarah at December 4, 2007 9:32 AM

The question about lying is a tough one. Like, really really tough. I'm a throwback to the days of personal honor, integrity, yadda yadda yadda, but I've also worked for the government and had a girlfriend, so it's been almost impossible not to lie at times. I still don't know that there's ever necessarily a right time to do it, but human nature seems to demand it sometimes.

The most extravagant: I'm in a bar alone one night in Scottsdale (not depressed, just felt like a beer...leave me alone) and this loud dude followed by a gaggle of equally loud young women walks in and he starts buying drinks and talking about how he's in his last year of med school and his parents own an island, etc. Somehow, their 'party' ends up next to my little area of the bar and when he asks me what I do for a living I tell him that I'm an AF pilot that just returned from flying close-air support missions in Kosovo. The women are impressed, he shuts up, and almost immediately they leave the bar. I feel a little dirty, but the bartender gives me a free drink to thank me on a couple different levels, so once again, sweet liquor eases the pain. This was before my days working with special operations, which, hindsight being 20/20, could've made for a much more intimidating lie.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at December 4, 2007 9:35 AM

Sometimes a lie is necessary, to spare hurt feelings and such. And sometimes it's to preserve the wonder of childhood (Santa, tooth fairy, Easter Bunny, etc...)

I'll have to think on this one a bit and get back to you.

Posted by: Alissa at December 4, 2007 9:41 AM

I don't like juicily or extravagantly, but my most common deception is how I downplay my atheism. I won't lie if someone asks me directly, but I evade anything less.

I live in Texas, and I want people to play with my children.

Posted by: Becky at December 4, 2007 9:52 AM

I think you have to lie sometimes. Better to tell a little lie to avoid hurting someone's feelings than to shove honesty down their throats all the time.

I lied A LOT as a teenager. It was pretty much the only way I ever got to leave the house, as my parents didn't approve of me doing anything. But I didn't tell whoppers. I just said "I'm going to Laila's" and left out the part where her parents let us stay out until 3 am.

Posted by: bad penguin at December 4, 2007 10:20 AM

Wow. You must have been close to laughter while stepping through that elaborately baked pie of a lie.

Yes, we lie. Mainly to protect people's feelings, and I don't think that's a bad thing. Sometimes, it's just being polite.

I don't have any good lies. But I have been known to go along with a story and add onto it, if a buddy is having a go at a stranger.

Posted by: Brad at December 4, 2007 10:26 AM

LMAO. I'm imagining the fake Chinese. Hysterical

Posted by: Leticia at December 4, 2007 10:28 AM

I would answer your questions but I would only be lying. So basically... I plead the Fifth.

Posted by: GreenCanary at December 4, 2007 10:32 AM

1. There is no way to be completely honest without eroding some necessary social kindnesses. and 2. It is too deep and dark to reveal, which doesn't make a clever or interesting comment, really.

One thing we -don't- lie about is Santa and the Easter Bunny, etc. Our families find this crazy but we don't want our girls to feel like we're not honest with them whenever possible. I say Christmas is magical enough on its own and it's just not worth that moment when your kid finds out you've been deceiving them all along. So instead of a biggest lie I'd say that is our biggest and most controversial truth.

Posted by: Laura GF at December 4, 2007 10:39 AM

I always tell the truth and Sammy Hagar is the greatest frontman on the planet... let alone VH!


Posted by: Johnny Smoke at December 4, 2007 10:48 AM

shut up. you didn't do that...did you??


screaming viking! ahahaha! would you like the cucumber bruised?

Posted by: ali at December 4, 2007 10:55 AM

I'm married to someone who believes in brutal honesty and I'm not so sure that's the way to go.

I think there's a difference between TELLING A LIE and fucking with someone, which is what Mia seems to be doing with you.

Like most people, I lied more when I was younger than I do anymore. Once, in my early 20s, I wanted to go out of town for the weekend with my boyfriend, so I called in to my retail job and told them that my grandfather died. I even managed to cry on the phone. They gave me three days off WITH PAY!

That place treated me like shit anyway, so I don't really feel guilty about it even now.

Posted by: kalisah at December 4, 2007 11:14 AM

Two guys in there stopped mid conversation when I entered the elevator on Friday, wearing my USC jersey. (Big rivalry game on Saturday where we mangled ucla 24-7, but I digress.) One of the guys said, "I'm sorry."

"Excuse me?"

"I'm sorry you went to USC."

"You shouldn't be. I went to UCLA. But since our team sucks, I'm cheering for USC."

Blank stare. "Haha. That's funny."

"No. I'm dead serious. Do you need to see my diploma?"

I know it was more snarky than juicy. But the expressions on the guys' faces were priceless. Heh.

Posted by: oakley at December 4, 2007 11:23 AM

Sadly, I am a good liar. It's a skill I honed as a child and then even more as a teenager.

It's not a skill I use much anymore. I only use it for good, when I do.

I can convince any woman (except myself) that her ass does not look fat in those pants.

Posted by: Contrary at December 4, 2007 11:26 AM

How funny! She sounds like your typical 2 yr old! lol I bet it's cute!! Btw, I totally agree about DLR and Sammy.

Posted by: Sabrina at December 4, 2007 12:49 PM

Clare still sometimes tell lies about silly things that are obviously untrue. Then she yells, "I tricked you!" Yeah, right. I think kids have fun with it when they realize that they can sometimes get away with a lie.

I used to tell girls in bars that I was Chris from The Partridge Family. It never really got me anywhere though. A friend and I also used to say that we were with Up With People...I'm not sure why we did that.

Posted by: Darren at December 4, 2007 1:48 PM

I have to agree with most here, depends on what you're going to lie about. Typically, I'm not a liar, though hubby would say different, only because if someone asks me a personal question and I don't think it's their business, I might tell you something else, but I don't really get a lot of that. OR, the HUGE one is, why I'm late, cause I'm ALWAYS late, no matter what!! And if my daughter calls, talking to her drives me nuts, she's flaky, a true flake and I can't stand it. Not sure where I went wrong in the up bringing, but she is and so is her husband, they're two peas in a pod...but I digress.

If someone asks me if I like something or if something makes them look this way or that, you're going to get the correct answer and I'm very well known around work for it. They all know I'll tell you the truth, cause if you don't want to know, why you asking ME?

Posted by: been there, done that at December 4, 2007 1:50 PM

BTW, hubby's 'daughter' is an habitual liar, he says she's lied since she could talk and she's 17. Similiar to Mia. But the one difference might be, 'daughter' had mom to listen and learn from since EX did/does it to. Hubby says she used to tell them long strung out lies and he'd shake his head going, 'and "I" was there', not that I remember it that way.

She also told him she modeled for Sears and made 25K, she told her daughter the car caught on fire and it almost killed the both of them when she was pregnant and the fire was a year before, 'daughter' died when she was born (no less than 3 times, har har) when she was really an apgar 1 and never stopped breathing and that she did gymnastics in college.

Yet he never saw any pictures of her doing gymnastics or invited him to watch and he never saw any pics of her modeling.

I can tell you, if I modeled, my boyfriend and then hubby would of seen them!!!

I think Mia is teasing you like someone previously said.

Posted by: been there, done that at December 4, 2007 1:58 PM

I was a fantastic liar. In a perverse way, I'm proud of that because I lied for survival. Not to be a total downer but lying spared me from some beatings. That's just a fact. But it got to the point where I lied for no good reason. If it made for a good story, I spun some doozies. Then I hit my late teens, early twenties and I realized that, while I was good at it, it took too much energy to remember what I'd said to people. Plus, while I didn't necessarily see anything wrong with it, I realized it hurt my credibility with people on the rare times when I was caught. So I made a conscious decision to stop.

Which is why, now I'm ridiculously honest and up front with people. My friends know that if they don't really want my opinion, they shouldn't ask. But, above all, I value good manners and productive conversations so if the truth needs a bit of cushioning, I'm not above that.

I'm not militant about truth telling though. If someone is wearing a neon pink Hawaiian shirt and I hate it and he asks me what I think of it, I'll probably just respond with, "If you like it, it's nice."

Unless of course he's a really good friend at which point I'd rip the damn thing off his back and simply say, "Don't ever do that again!"

:D

Posted by: pea at December 4, 2007 2:32 PM

I was a fantastic liar. In a perverse way, I'm proud of that because I lied for survival. Not to be a total downer but lying spared me from some beatings. That's just a fact. But it got to the point where I lied for no good reason. If it made for a good story, I spun some doozies. Then I hit my late teens, early twenties and I realized that, while I was good at it, it took too much energy to remember what I'd said to people. Plus, while I didn't necessarily see anything wrong with it, I realized it hurt my credibility with people on the rare times when I was caught. So I made a conscious decision to stop.

Which is why, now I'm ridiculously honest and up front with people. My friends know that if they don't really want my opinion, they shouldn't ask. But, above all, I value good manners and productive conversations so if the truth needs a bit of cushioning, I'm not above that.

I'm not militant about truth telling though. If someone is wearing a neon pink Hawaiian shirt and I hate it and he asks me what I think of it, I'll probably just respond with, "If you like it, it's nice."

Unless of course he's a really good friend at which point I'd rip the damn thing off his back and simply say, "Don't ever do that again!"

:D

Posted by: pea at December 4, 2007 2:32 PM

Yes, sometimes you just HAVE to.
I love your blog!


::: snicker :::

I slay me.... ;-)

Posted by: David at December 4, 2007 4:52 PM

the monkey always lies that she "have a poo." then I ask her if I should change her diapy, and she furls her eyebrows and says "NO" and "I don have a poo." She also lies when she DOES have a poopoo....

I'm one of those unfortunates who cannot tell a lie....

Posted by: Haley-O at December 4, 2007 9:21 PM

Wait, you're Chinese? :)

Posted by: Poppy at December 4, 2007 9:31 PM

I am a firm believer in telling white lies. If you can spare someone's feelings by giving them a little twist to the truth, then why not.

Juiciest lie...hmmmmm.....I told my friend that was getting married on a Saturday during football season that I had to leave her wedding early to go to work; ha, she later found out I was at the game :O. It's all good though, the marriage only lasted six months. Heh.

Posted by: Nanette at December 5, 2007 2:23 AM

All I can really say is that lying may be necessary in certain situations but I cannot stand being lied to.

Posted by: Peggy at December 5, 2007 7:57 AM

Happy Birthday, Chris!!!!!

Posted by: Maribeth at December 5, 2007 8:02 AM

Hmmmm...I try to be honest most of the time. But, I *have* faked the big "O" before. Long time ago. At that time it was important to do so. Not that I would do that now...nor that I have a reason to...heh.

Posted by: Julia at December 5, 2007 8:05 AM

Great post...

The most extravagent lie I ever told was when I told my mom I was changing my major (2nd semester, soph year) from International Business to Geology/Geography with a concentration in Oceanography. The back story is that I was actually taking Oceanography that semester and doing very well - well enough that the professor asked for a meeting with me and tried to get me to change my major. Anyway - after the meeting - I went throught this whole long story and had my mom convinced - she was really supportive-ish. I waited 4 days until April Fool's Day to tell her!

Juiciest lie?? hrm...

Posted by: Sue at December 5, 2007 11:10 AM

I do agree. Just yesterday I was lying about reasons why I can't make it to a party (and feeling bad about it of course). My truthful answer probably would not have been well-received, especially not by the people I am avoiding contact with. But better to tell a little lie and avoid said contact than to have that contact and be a complete fake. I absolutely hate being fake which is why I will never rise to the top of any corporate ladder. If I don't like you, sooner or later I will find it impossible to hide that fact so I will either tell you or, if I'm trying to be nice about it, avoid you at all costs.

I'm not sure this is making me sound very good so I'm going to shut up now and get back to work.

Happy Birthday, again!

Posted by: laura at December 5, 2007 11:16 AM

I'm so ashamed...

It was 1997. The lie was so grand that I remember the year in which it occurred. A friend spent the night, and for some reason, the situation allowed me to slide in this giant lie of how she did all of these crazy things in her sleep. I even told her I was kidding. She - to this day - still thinks it all really happened.

Posted by: Emily at December 6, 2007 2:11 PM

Lying is absolutely necessary. I fully expect any kid of mine to do plenty of it.

My most extravagant lie was telling my astronomy professor that the reason I had missed a few classes was because I had hand foot and mouth disease which I got from one of the kids I babysit. She asked for a doctor's note so I told her I didn't go to the doctor since it's a virus and there's nothing they can really do. She asked to verify it with the parents so I gave her my friend's name and contact info. Then I quickly called my friend and told her what was up and she agreed to play the part for me. As luck would have it I did end up developing one strange blister on my hand which I showed the professor. She believed me and never even called my friend. That seriously save my grade in that class.

I don't know if this lie is juicy or not but I think it's funny: When I was in high school a guy friend of mine admitted he liked me. I totally didn't have the same feelings for him so I told him we were brother and sister in past life and would just be too weird.

Posted by: Carrie Jo at December 7, 2007 2:35 AM


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