Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rachael Used to Lie More

I think I used up all my lies back when I was a kid, because I'm a terrible liar now. I blush and stutter and, worst of all, forget what I lied about, so I have a pretty strict policy of truth (except, of course, for those social white lies that keep our worlds on course--I think those are sometimes necessary, and I'm pretty good at those).

But when I was a kid, I was AWESOME at lying. I sometimes made up lies just to see how big a whopper I could get away with. I remember describing my first French kiss to a friend in third grade, when in actuality I had no idea what one was, nor had I ever seen one, let alone had one. (I thought it involved a certain nibbling technique, which seemed much more French to me than the whole tongue thing that I learned about in fourth grade while watching two classmates wrestle mouths.)

The worst part about lying is how far you'll go to defend the lie. I think perhaps the difference between young Rachael and not-as-young-as-she-was Rachael is that I won't go to lengths anymore. If I lie, and I'm caught, I admit it. "Yep, you're right. I do mind that you didn't like my first chapter. I was lying when I said I didn't."

But as a kid, whew. I couldn't lie fast enough and I took it to the mat. Maybe it was my way of making up stories? I always knew I wanted to write fiction, but when I put words on to the page, I knew they weren't right, so instead, I'd lie.

And worse, I'd back my lie all the way into the corners they'd get stuck in. Like my Roomba which just got stuck under the couch, spinning its wheels futilely, blurting statements of error, I'd keep lying harder and lying bigger, hoping there was some way out.

A memorable lie of my youth also went with another sin: thievery. At the age of six, I stole my mother's ruby ring. I remember making the decision. I knew she never wore it and would never miss it. Where I thought I would be able to wear it, I don't know. To all my six-year old functions I didn't attend with my mom? Sheesh. I was a pint-sized idiot as well as a liar and a thief.

My mother discovered the theft quickly, perhaps within the same day or two. She was scary-good that way. She sat our small family in a circle on the kitchen floor. It was me, my five-year old sister, my father and her. "Someone in this room stole my ruby ring."

"Not me!" I piped. How could she know that it was me, after all? I was safe. She would blame my sister. Or even Dad! Maybe she'd think he stole it!

But she didn't seem to be falling for it. She didn't even look at Christy. "And that someone has tonight to replace it into my jewelry box, otherwise she'll be punished tomorrow."

"Not me," I said. Then I wept, deeply wounded that she would ever think such a crime of me.

"Put. It. Back. Or else. Whoever the thief is, Rachael, must put it back."

I sneaked into her room while she was cooking and put the ring back. She never said another word about it.

Until I graduated with my Master's degree. I opened a tiny wrapped box from her, and inside was the ruby ring. "Do you remember . . . ?" I didn't, couldn't, finish the sentence.

She laughed. "Of course. I figured at least now you'd earned it."

9 comments:

Mario said...

What a great story! So poignant and revealing. Thanks much.

Rachael Herron said...

Aw, thanks, Mario! :)

Juliet Blackwell said...

Rachael, I can just see you as a chubby-faced little girl, big innocent eyes...;-) Frankly, I'm always rather drawn to the kids who lie and steal -- before a certain age, I think it's a sign of curiosity and creativity, rather than mean-spiritedness.
And I know you grew out of it -- I think you (and Sophie) are among the most honest people I know!

jodi said...

Rachael, your mother sounds like she was just a completely awesome person.

I also inadvertently owned up to a lot of things with the "not me!" approach, only learning much later that silence is a much safer, more easy-to-get-away-with lie. As a kid silence was pretty much beyond my scope, though. I kind of get the sense it was beyond yours, too ;)

Lisa said...

Loved this. Thanks for sharing.

Mysti said...

Your mom sounds like one in a million! And so are you!!!

Gigi Pandian said...

I'm like you, Rachael -- I used to be a fantastic liar as a kid, but now it shows on my face and I can't do it!

Brenda said...

I loved this story! Very charming.

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