Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Liar, Liar.

When I was a kid I told another kid that I was a twin.  It was a lie of epic proportion that fell out of my face before my brain had a chance to realize what I was doing, and my heart… didn’t have a clue.  Over the years, I felt badly about the lie, but at the time it was a powerful drug that propelled me forward.  It was a kind of confidence amphetamine, it was.


The lie came about because I felt badly about myself and the girl that I told that lie to?  She had everything in my eyes.  A student of a prestigious private school, she talked endlessly about her adventures in dressage and her many equestrian ribbons, all the while rocking the perfect hair, skin AND teeth (the angst-y teenage trifecta).  Even though she was only in junior high, she told me how her dad had promised her an Alpha Romeo convertible, once she turned 16, and went on and on about her twice-a-year vacations in Europe.  Honestly, even Barbie would’ve felt inadequate in her presence.  I felt like pond scum, me and my bus-ridin’-to-public-school, holes-in-my-sneakers self.  Forget Europe.  My big dream was traveling the 20 miles to the Santa Cruz Beach & Boardwalk, when I could, with enough tickets to ride the merry-go-round however many times it would take to get the darned brass ring in the clown’s mouth (because, history had shown that three times was NOT enough).  So, when little Miss “I have six pairs of Jordache Jeans” mentioned she wished she’d had a sister instead of her annoying older brother, I piped up and told her not only did I have a sister, she was my twin.


Please know, that typing that sentence brings up the same bitter taste in the back of my throat that the spoken lie did back then.


Knowing I’d never see this girl again (we’d been tossed into a swimming pool one afternoon so our relatives could talk business), I answered all of her questions about twindom – weaving a story so elaborate, even I was impressed with the house of cards I was building, going higher and wider than ever before.


Since my twin was a complete figment of my imagination, I made her everything I secretly wanted to be.  Of course, we were identical in every way, except she was a smidge taller, thinner and managed to get her hair to fall into the perfect Dorothy Hamill Wedge unlike mine, which insisted on following the path of Kristy McNichol’s during her “Buddy” years.  Twinstar had better teeth only because she didn’t have her front left tooth knocked out in an unfortunate car incident, like me, and she also had about a dozen pair of those fancy, expensive butt-stitched jeans — but only because she cared about those things, unlike me.


By the time I was finished sketching out the perfect monozygotic, my poolmate had tired of me and was beyond anxious to meet the better version of me.  I had shot myself in the foot.  Both feet, actually.  It took a whole other set of elaborate fibs and falsehoods to explain why that was just not gonna happen.  When the girl insisted that our families stay in touch forever and ever, maybe even joining them on their next ski trip to Courchevel or St. Moritz, something akin to flop sweat commandeered my entire body.


In that moment, I discovered that lying wasn’t ever going to be worth it.  Not even a little bit.  Years later, when preparing my theatrical resume* I could not follow my peers into the Special Skills category of saying that I could ride a horse bareback while shooting firearms or scubadive, simultaneously whistling Dixie underwater.  I just knew someone would hire me only to discover that I’d simply lied in order to get a job (even tho’ top ramen didn’t pay for itself, it was just not worth it).


When my kids were little, I met a PTA maven who served as further example that, in general, overstatements and exaggerations were to be avoided at all costs.  Hester Prynne had her scarlet letter, Laverne had her cursive “L” and to this day I think this woman should have a hot pink “H” for hyperbole on her perfectly tailored cashmere sweaters.  Nuclear exaggerator that she is, if you told her you were taking a brand new supplement made from moon minerals she’d say she’d been taking it since 1968.  Every word she utters, every sentence she speaks has to be served with a high gloss, ultra sheen coating.  Bigger!  Brighter!  Shinier!  As a result, her reputation isn’t as stellar as it could be (despite the fact that she’s a hard worker and a fairly decent woman) and everyone in my valley knows that what she says must be taken with a grain of salt (lime and tequila, optional).


Unfortunately, for a time, I went in the opposite direction and became the militant anti-liar: boldly telling truths where none had been told before.  Let me tell you, that wasn’t pretty either.  I found out that people don’t really want to know your opinion of their hairless cat/wildly inappropriate love-match/mother-in-law’s painting of them.  They actually get downright testy, too if you offer honesty when they didn’t ask for it.  Turns out, they can’t handle the truth.


Yeah, somewhere between the truth and a lie is the higher, more socially acceptable road to travel and I’m still trying to find my way on that rocky path.  Storyteller that I am, what I have learned is that the truth really is best – but dispensed with caution.  Changing names and dates, if need be.  No lie.


Accuracy is the twin brother of honesty; inaccuracy, of dishonesty.”  – Nathaniel Hawtorne


*Yeah, I’m one of “those people” classically trained in all things artistic, never making any money nor garnering much respect.  Tell people you studied at the Strasberg Institute and graduated from the Hollywood Professional School and you can slowly watch the clouds of pity and “Aww, isn’t that special!?” float across their pupils. 


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