It’s a well-known fact that I am a terrible liar. Even little white ones make me blush and squirm and look away anxiously. Once, in high school English, our very stern teacher Mr. Scott kicked off class by checking in on the prior night’s assignment. He knew there had been a big test in U.S. History that morning, and set about trolling for signs my classmates and I had ditched our English reading to study for it.
He started out innocently enough, just a query or two about what we thought of the reading. The other students played it cool, because veteran teachers like Mr. Scott can smell fear.
I, on the other hand, felt my face burning and my eyes glancing upward to scrutinize every crack and cobweb on the schoolhouse ceiling. Mr. Scott pounced:
“I detect a distinct lack of eye contact from parts of the room. So let’s say you put you books on the floor, take out a clean sheet of paper and a pencil…”
Yep, it was a pop quiz… that I think most of us bombed. And I still blame myself for our collective downfall, because as I said I am a terrible liar.
As an adult, I periodically encounter folks who lie easily and often – and not just about harmless things, like whether the roast beef is too dry, or your jeans make you look fat. Sometimes I envy them a little, for the way they seem to sail through each day, skirting life’s many little frictions without a hint of remorse.
But if nothing else, the thought of having to come up with – and remember – all those little fibs is kind exhausting. And I wonder… what’s the point of being dishonest anyway, unless you have broken a law and are facing possible jail time? What’s the worst that can happen if you just tell the truth?
An example: Before a recent workout with my trainer, I was stretching on a big mat in the middle of my gym. Mornings are busy there and the mat can get pretty crowded, so I was a little vexed when a woman plopped down next to me and proceeded to text and surf the web on her phone. The only thing she was flexing was her thumbs, while taking up prime gym floor real estate.
Her trainer arrived, and as she stood up he asked her, “So, did you stretch out already?” She looked him square in the eye, and without missing a beat responded.
Whaaaaat? I was conflicted. I wondered why I can’t lie to my trainer like that, instead of spilling every diet and workout transgression as soon as she asks, “How are you today?” I also questioned the point of lying, since we pay our trainers to work with us. How much we put into (and get from) the partnership is entirely up to us. They get paid either way.
Most of all, though, I fought temptation to call her out, a la “The Princess Bride”. Am I the only person who fantasizes about this whenever I hear someone tell a WHOPPER?
The thing that stopped me was the knowledge that her stiff muscles were none of my business. Also, the fact that she could probably gouge my eyes out with those power-texting thumbs of hers.
I mean it, I saw them. Those were some champion, powerhouse thumbs.