“What’s the biggest lie you’ve been told,” my friend asked. Maybe it was the stars around the fire that night that made us think we could manage deep questions. Maybe the wine. Whatever. We got to work unpacking this one.
First off, how did I discover it was a lie? Maybe the Big Lie is still something I believe is true. Right? Did my high school boyfriend cheat on me? (Wake up, Annabelle, he did). Did Scott really fill an entire empty water bottle with his spit? (He did not. He’s just an ass.) Did my sister/maid of honor crack the train of my wedding gown like a bedsheet—exposing my ass to the entire audience on purpose? (She says no. Hmmm.)
What about the Santa issue? (hushed voice: I don’t think there are children reading my blog, so I’m going to plow forward.) That was a whopper. I’ll not divulge how long I held on to that one, wishing, believing with all my heart as I stood staring into the cold December sky, that there was Santa out there. Rudolf in the lead. The sad island of misfit toys was well and truly emptied and someone in the world would recognize them as treasures and welcome them into their home.
I had a friend who refused to lie to her children. Santa was included on her narrow-minded list. Kris Kringle went down hard. In my mind, she came at her children with an icy heart, her wee one’s eyes filling with tears as she tore apart the magic and set her four- and five-year-old’s heads straight. Wise up, kids! Time to grow up! Get out of that bed and scrub the toilets. You’re not getting any gold stars on your chore schedule this week, slackers! (This woman is longer my friend. Pretty sure she’s not reading this blog either. But just in case….. hey you, The Bishop’s Wife is an effing fantastic movie. It’s too bad you live in a cold, sterile, joyless bubble, nutjob.)
I realize now that I may be feeling a bit militant today. Should I continue writing? Fuck it. Why not.
I’ll bet there have been hundreds of lies I’ve been told in my life. The same goes for all of us. As long as we’re livin and breathin, people will be telling the story the way they want it told. Lies help us sometimes too. It’s the shit we tell ourselves that are probably our biggest ones. Eat that cheesecake, Annabelle. You’ve had a hard day and deserve a really big slice….. and….. sure go ahead and wear your sneakers with that maxi dress, it looks fine.
But honestly, the biggest one that pops to mind is a horrible story. When I was in my twenties, still living with my parents, I came home from work one day and saw my birdcage swinging from its stand in the middle of the yard. I had two parakeets—Chester and Burt—who I adored. The cage door was open, and the birds were gone. Frantic, I questioned my parents and brother who gathered once I began screaming, and they all denied knowledge of what happened. Yes, someone—no hands up, they all covered for one another—thought the cage needed some airing out, so “they” brought it outside. How the tight door became unhooked was a mystery to all of them. They effectually killed my birds. They know it, and I know it. And the big lie changed us. Because….I’m still thinking about it and now ratting them out.
Terrible story, huh? Yeah. Makes my family look bad too, doesn’t it? Yup. But the thing is, the truth is important and lies hurt. If I’m not telling the truth, then I’m telling a lie. I’m telling secrets too. Shameful ones. Should I do that?
Sometimes you need to tell the truth more than keeping the secrets and lies hidden. How this blog went from sparkling intellectual questions around the campfire to me going to dark places is the product of age, wisdom, intolerance, grief, and alcohol. It’s not for rookies.
The filters are off. Not that they were really secured on. Years ago, my long-suffering shrink called me a right fighter. For those of you have read my books, I’ve revealed a bit of the Rosetta stone here. Poor Chester and Burt.