That is what being a good liar is about, right? Because, as with so many life skills, it is not just the theoretical but also the practical exam you have to pass.
And, as a child, I sucked at it BIG TIME.
There is a difference, of course, between lying and telling a story - and there are probably as many angles to the line in the sand between the two as there are people willing to examine it.
I was pretty good at spinning a yarn, but the trick to telling a whopper in story form is to overemphasise the exaggeration, therefore you will never be called on being a liar and, for me, that meant less self-inflicted guilt injuries so all was sweet.
So anyway - me, child, crap liar, worked well on the other side of the line.
Grew up a bit, and the problem with growing up a bit is that I came face to face with the truth - and the truth was that there were PLENTY of people who were far better at keeping a straight face and a hidden conscience while telling whoppers on my NO GO zone and I was plenty confused.
- Classmates did it. "You never gave us homework last week, sir."
- Roommates did it. "No, I never saw your birthstone necklace."
- Teachers did it. "There are three easy essay questions on the paper."
ParentsSanta did it. "Here is a combined present for you all this year, as I know you will understand there are other children who need more presents than you do." (Okay, Santa wasn't lying, but it still hurt.)
- Colleagues did it. "I told the client how much work you did on this project."
- Bosses did it. "There isn't enough room in the budget to give you that sort of payrise this time round."
- Boyfriends did it. "She wasn't my wife."
And don't let me even get STARTED on professionals, politicians or pick ups.
I came to realise that there are many facets to this whole lying game. There is intent, there is outcome, there is degree of difficulty and there are mitigating circumstances.
Hey - I was still VERY crap at the whole not telling the whole truth thing, but I understood that other people used it, justified it to themselves, lived with it and maybe even enjoyed it. So, of course, I ran away from it all and became a hippie poet.
I tried, oh I truly tried to live that life where me and lies could just keep to our own sides of the street and I could hold my head up high and allow myself to be a truth-sayer. Most of the time I did that, the rest of the time I rhymed (or not) and used it as artistic expression. Oh glory days.
Then it all fell apart - I became a parent.
And all those little facets of lies started to beckon me over, offering an easier life, giving me justification and self-righteousness if I wanted to try a line or two of lies.
There were some nice ones used to camouflage pain. "He's working very hard at the moment."
There was one or two to dissolve anguish. "He is still very much involved in her life."
There were a couple to ease embarrassment. "He had an incurable illness."
Then there were those that seemed to be handed out in the classes I thought I had skipped in motherhood.
What answer do you give when your 2 year old admits to "loving Santa sooooo much" and you had never heeded his presence? You start working for the Santa factory yourself.
When you need something to brighten up a lonely Easter, don't you put your imagination to work and create a whole clue trail for the Bunny to lay for your child's delight? Especially when he has been so well moulded by relatives and friends.
When your 6 year old's best friend forever gets great presents from the Tooth Fairy - I wonder what she will bring us? (apart from the whole conundrum of yet another creature to lie about)
But, of course, now being the mother of an 8 year old, I realise that there is a whole lot more to this whole lying caper than the difference between a pork pie and a fairytale - and a lot more to being a parent than just telling the difference.
Luckily for me, my daughter isn't very good at it yet - and so I am able to pretend I don't see it when it isn't that bad and hopefully, when she lies to her mother she will continue to show her hand. Is that lying?
I now have a new partner and I sometimes allow people to believe that we are the original family unit rather than bluntly assert that her father had died (after we had separated) (of a horrible mental health illness). Which side of the line is that omission?
Last night, when questioned about whether I looked older, V replied that I actually looked "younger and sexier". Will his guilty conscience keep him awake at night?
(Oh, and I turned 29.)
I don't know that I have it all nutted out yet, and I don't believe it is all right to lie - but nor is it all wrong all the time.
(By the way - I have used the inadequacies of Blogger to lie to you all - I have written this today, April 24 - but due to creating the title of the post yesterday, I can fool you all into believing that I hmmm'ed this on Hump Day! Head over to Julie Pippert - Using My Words - for other's takes on truth and lies)