Artful dodging requires much creativity

We all know people who dodge, stretch, bend, or ignore the truth. Lying begins in childhood and seems as natural as breathing. Kids learn at an early age they can’t fool their parents for very long, but that doesn’t discourage them. When asked if Junior spilled milk on the kitchen floor or Sis hid popcorn under the pillow on Mom’s bed, a lie pops out of their mouth like a clown popping out of a jack-in-the-box.

Wading through all the lies of childhood is frivolous compared to the lies of teenagers. Anyone who has lived with a teen is aware of the labyrinth woven to trick adults into believing falsehoods. The wrecked car, the smell of alcohol, and the school absentee reports are all met with defiant denial. I’m convinced teenagers would rather extract their teeth with a pair of grandpa’s pliers than admit the truth.

Lying might taper off as teens pass into their twenties, but it picks up again when they enter college or a new relationship. Professors hear about the deaths of phantom relatives, and sweethearts promise a semester of faithful affection. When offenders are caught in deceitful webs, the lies increase.

After college graduation, the job hunt is on and resumes are fluffed into unrecognizable tomes. The twenties pass with multiple lies told to multiple people, but nothing compares to what happens after the ideal mate is met and wedding vows are exchanged. Matrimony often turns perfectly normal people into consummate liars.

For many couples, lying becomes a natural way of life after marriage. This is a mystery I have never been smart enough to solve. Telling the truth is so much simpler and avoids having to remember all the little falsehoods. Often the lies are of scant significance and would probably not cause much fuss to either spouse, but like the children’s jack-in-the-box clown, they just pop out.

Gals who wouldn’t dream of lying to their friends about the cost of a new dress automatically give a lower price to their husband. A wife knows her spouse will eventually learn the accurate amount when the credit card bill arrives, but something prevents her from telling the truth immediately. She probably waits on tenterhooks when all she has to do is put the bill on the table, make a nice pie for dessert, and let the chips fall where they will.

Men are no different. They come home with new tools or fishing gear and hide their purchases in the garage. Some fellows might go so far as to enlist the use of a friend’s garage to spirit away the shiny new Harley the wife has absolutely forbidden. Perhaps a stop at the local casino fleeces them of the $100 earmarked for the phone bill. Are they going to tell the Mrs. where the cash went? We all know the answer to that one.

There are many different kinds of liars just like there are many different kinds of drunks. Some are creative and some are stupid. Some are witty and some are dull. Some will make you laugh while others make you cry. Some individuals learn at an early age that lying is a great way to skate through life if you have the charm and wit to match the lies. The faces of unskilled liars turn red. They mumble and look at the floor. They just don’t have what it takes to be a good liar.

My second husband lied for no reason at all. He was a fine man except for one flaw. I couldn’t believe a word he said. When asked if the gas tank was full, he replied he sold the car although it was parked in the driveway. If I requested a loaf of bread, he informed me all grocery stores closed at 5 p.m. When quizzed regarding the whereabouts of our 2-year-old daughter, he assured me she was nightclubbing with grandma. The man couldn’t help it. His DNA had programmed him. He never told the truth if a lie would do.

We’ve all heard of “white” lies. Those little fabrications we tell people so we don’t hurt their feelings. At one time or another, most of us have told a white lie, but proceed with caution because sometimes they backfire. You end up with someone or something you really didn’t want.

Perhaps a friend brought a jar of homemade lentil soup. We might have gagged on the stuff, but we assured her it was delicious. Every time the same jar with the same soup appeared on our table, we had only ourselves to blame. In my case, it wasn’t lentil soup, but prune bread. Every Easter, Aunt Marie made her special pastry treat. Nobody liked it, but nobody was brave enough to tell her the truth.

The most troublesome liars are those who lie through omission. They skirt around the truth by telling half the story. Politicians have elevated lies of omission to an art form. It’s hard to tell when they are lying through omission, embellishing the truth, or disregarding it altogether.

People would be more sincere if what happened to Pinocchio happened in real life. Imagine the changes that would occur as we watched the length of the liar’s nose increase in proportion to the lie. And just think of all the employment opportunities this phenomenon would create in Washington.

Editor’s note: Sharon M. Kennedy of Brimley is a humorist who infuses her musings with a hardy dose of matriarchal common sense. She writes about everyday experiences most of us have encountered at one time or another on our journey through life. Her articles are a combination of present day observations and nostalgic glances of the past.