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September 30, 2013

Lisa Madras: To be honest, sometimes it’s OK to lie

NEW CASTLE — When was the last time you lied?

What did you lie about?

I had to post this question this week because my friend and I had a discussion about this very same subject just yesterday. I had something that I was supposed to do, but with the way my schedule was, there was absolutely no way I could fit it in unless I skipped sleeping one night and did it then.  

Now, if you knew me, you would know that I'm not a pleasant person unless I clock in a solid eight hours of sleep at night. Eleven to seven. That's my schedule, and I don't vary from it unless it's an extreme emergency.

Like if my hair is on fire, or an airplane has crashed into my house.

Not getting ANY sleep turns me into homicidal maniac. Anyhow, the point is, I don't like skipping out on something I'm supposed to do. But in this case, doing it was not an option.

So I decided to say that I was sick, and that was my excuse for not getting it done. "Why didn't you just tell them the truth?" my friend asked me. Well, that's complicated. And complication is something I avoid almost as much as going to bed at 11:05.  

If I had told the truth, I would have had to explain my entire schedule of going to work, coming home and cooking supper, doing the dishes, helping my kids with their homework, doing my own school work, getting everybody showered, taking my daughter to judo and my son to guitar lessons, getting lunches packed for the next day, clothes ready for the next day, mowing the lawn before the neighbors call the cops on me, etc., etc, etc.

And THEN having to accept that the people I'd just explained this all to would wait until I was barely out of earshot to mutter things like "Gee, we're all busy, you know" and "I managed to find the time to do it" and "She needs to get her priorities straight."

Because I KNOW people. I'M a people, too. And I hate excuses. But, for example, if someone told me they were supposed to bake a pie for a fundraiser, and they didn't do it because they had strep throat, I'd be like, "Oh, wow ... yeah, that's cool. Thanks for not spreading your germs to anyone else." End of story, end of drama.

And when my kids have to miss school because they have explosive diarrhea, or they can't sit in the school seats all day because they got a cyst on one of their bum cheeks ... yeah, I lie about that, too. Maybe I think too deeply into some things, but what if my kid accidentally dropped that note on the school bus? And quite honestly, I hate to think about it even sitting in their school file for the next eight years.

"Dear School, Please excuse Child A from school yesterday because she tripped over her own feet face-first into a pot roast and got a piece of potato peel lodged in her eyeball leading to a corneal scratch that is currently making her eye ooze green goo." Um, no.

"Dear School, Please excuse Child A from school yesterday because she had a fever." That's better. And a fever is a legitimate excuse, according to the school handbook, whereas green-goo producing corneal scratches could very possibly lead to yours truly eventually being sent a scathing note from the school telling me that my child is missing too much school for being a klutz. No story, no drama.

So yes, I lie. And I've already explained to my older child my theory on the acceptability of telling lies as long as nobody gets hurt by it, it is not something that becomes a habit just to avoid responsibility, and it benefits the lie-teller in such a way as to avoid dramatic complications.

You may not agree with my theory, but it's what works for me. Someday, I hope it works for my kids when their boyfriend/girlfriend asks "Do these jeans make my butt look big?" or a prospective employer asks "What's your biggest weakness?" (By the way, "I'm too much of a perfectionist" is always a better answer than "I spend too much time in my basement cooking crystal meth," just in case you were wondering.)

The way I look at it is, we all lie sometimes. People will say they don't, but it's usually because the lies are ones that fit right into my code, and they don't even remember doing it because it's as natural, and quiet, as breathing.

And in some cases, people actually appreciate being told a little white lie. Nobody REALLY wants to hear about your explosive diarrhea.

Trust me, would I lie to you?


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