A group of my “over 50” cronies were discussing our fascinating lives over coffee the other day.
Two had just returned from a trip to Italy, one had been cross-country skiing in Wyoming, and the oldest one in the group had just placed first in his age bracket in a half marathon.
Me? I had nothing. My big adventure was a
trip out to Morgan Town to fill up a milk jug with spring water. Whoopeedoo. So I did something so reprehensible it’s giving me nightmares. I casually mentioned that I was planning a trip to Albuquerque to participate in the Hot Air Balloon Races.
Oh my gosh! I have absolutely no idea where that came from. It just bubbled up like a giant hiccup and released itself before my mind had time to stop it. Such an adventure never has been nor ever will be on my bucket list. I cannot tolerate heights above about 24 inches and the thought of sailing through the sky dangling from a balloon makes me catatonic.
However, members of my coffee klatch looked at me with new respect and began shooting questions about my big plans. I had no alternative except to answer with more tall tales and white lies which were beginning to turn shades of gray. I was very uncomfortable because my pants were on fire and my nose had grown into an elephant snout.
What causes an otherwise sane individual to resort to blatant subterfuge in order to make our lives sound more interesting than they really are? Now I’ve got to go get some travel brochures and pretend to make plans to fly to New Mexico. All these lies will require another whopper like a heart transplant or something to give me a plausible reason to cancel the big balloon adventure that never was and never will be.
See how that works? One small little white lie can create a monster than never goes away. After my heart transplant, they will be asking if I will resume plans for the balloon races. I’m dead meat.
Consequently I have begun to take inventory of the little white lies and tall tales I dispense so freely. How many of you have said “I was just about to call you” when someone calls you for the third time. You really weren’t thinking about them but you were going to get around to it eventually.
How about “You look great in those Bermuda shorts and knee socks” while wondering if the guy has gone off his rocker.
“Officer, I was rushing home to let my dog out,” I told the nice policeman who stopped me as I sped home from a basketball game the other night.” Actually that one worked but I got payback when greeted with a puddle at the back door.
My policy has been that as long as we’re not hurting others or breaking the law, a few little white lies can smooth over an abundance of sticky situations. It’s when you begin to embellish the lie that you get yourself into trouble.
It occurs to me that I lie to myself about as much as anyone else. Every morning I begin the day promising to give up sugar in any form and eat a plant based diet. By 3 p.m. I’m a drooling idiot lurking around the pasty bin at Wal-Mart (above). Just one, I tell myself. By 6 p.m. I’m eating Nutella out of the jar with veggie chips – they’re a vegetable, right?
I’ve decided to come clean and be brutally honest in all situations from now on although I’ll not be very popular. So don’t ask my opinion about anything or you might hear “Those jeans make you look fat, and your homemade salad dressing tastes like motor oil.”
Most of our innocent white lies serve as a kind of harmless social lubricant to make us more socially acceptable and likeable. Just be careful not to cross the line as I did and report a tale so tall only death itself can free you from the shame.
Emily Braddock Jones is a blogger and author who is on a diet from tall tales and white lies.