My grandfathers lied to my grandmothers. I guess it runs in the family.
You can always tell when my family is lying, just watch their mouths moving. Yes, that’s the truth. I am from the most dishonest family I’ve ever come in contact with. I don’t quite know how to explain it, but I’ve watched it all my life. People lie when the truth would serve them better. For example, I might say to my dad, “Hey, Pops, do you think the Giants will win against the Dodgers?” He’ll look me straight in the face and say, “Naw. They don’t have a chance.” This is after we both know that the Giants are ranked first in the division and have already trounced the Dodgers in pre-season games. Is it superstition? Maybe, in his case. I just don’t know.
My mother, on the other hand, will out-and-out lie. “Are you going to be home tomorrow afternoon when I get home from work,” I might ask and she’ll immediately look at her calendar and say, “No, I’ll be out with Jolene getting my nails done.” I can walk right over and see nothing on the calendar and sure enough the next day, Mom will be sitting in her chair watching re-runs of Oprah when I walk in the house. Why would she do that, you ask? I think it has everything to do with my grandfathers, on both sides of the family, who routinely lied to my grandmothers – they both told me – about everything from money to where they were spending time to even what they did for a living.
So, you can imagine how frustrating it is for me when I say something innocent like, “I think Mary Sue is dating Frank Mills,” and get a reaction from my mother, father or brother that is a simple, “There you go, making up lies again.” Why would I ever lie about Mary Sue and Frank? I have no motivation to alter facts, but in my family, motivation seems beside the point. I wonder if it’s genetic. I hope not since I really and truly don’t want to be the sort of person that people look at with raised eyebrows. However, I did find myself fibbing to my boss just the other day for no good reason. He said, “I see you were running a bit late today, Alicia.” Instead of telling him the truth and saying, “No sir, I was right on time,” I just blurted out, “Yes, the bus was late and I’m so sorry.” What is my problem, I ask you? The answer is, of course, my family. Coming from a group of prevaricators – the fancy word for liar – is not all that easy. Take the situation at the bank just last week.
My mother asked the teller to give her the balance in her account and when the woman did, my mother looked at her and said, “I don’t think that’s right. My husband told me he deposited money yesterday.” The bank teller checked all the records, and, of course, my dad had lied and not deposited the money like he was supposed to. How embarrassing. My mother was plenty mad. She confronted my dad when we got home and my dad just shook his head. “I guess it slipped my mind, Maude. I was planning on making that deposit, I swear.” Of course, we all know that he went to the horse races instead.
That lie was the last straw. I had to put some physical distance between me and my family. I withdrew all my savings and took a job in another city. I rented a new apartment and started a new life. I just couldn’t allow this family trait to define me or I’d just be one more untrustworthy person out in the world making life crazy for every person I meet.
However, I must admit that when my mother asked me where I was moving, I smiled and said Jamaica without blinking an eye, and when my boss asked what I was going to be doing, I said nursing assistant when I was really just going to another secretarial job. Okay, yes, those were lies, but I swear with some people you have to stretch the truth or else they will be all up into your business.
Hmmm. Maybe it is genetic. I distinctly remember hearing both of my grandfathers saying exactly those same words when I was growing up.