Sunday, November 5, 2006

I am a Big Liar

In 2003, former Saturday Night Live writer Al Franken wrote a book condemning conservative politics entitled Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. It was promoted by the supposedly unbiased subtitle, A Fair and Balanced View of the Right. While politically motivated by his liberal views, I thought his title was amusing. In fact, his book could have very well been about my life and me.
As anyone who truly knows me will tell you, I am a liar. No, check that. I am not just a liar; I am a big liar…a compulsive liar. I am one of the biggest liars I know. In fact, I could be the biggest liar without any political experience in the United States of America.
My lies are big. My lies are small. While I sometimes lie to keep others from some terrible truth, I usually lie for no other reason than it is a fun thing to do. To provide a helpful model of my lying prowess, one must look at two key instances. The first example occurred when I was ten years old and the second at age nineteen.
By the time I was ten, I was allowed to come home after school alone. My mother was a teacher in town, and made it home about fifteen minutes after I did. By the time I was eleven, I was there to watch my younger sister, as it made more sense than sending us to day-care. For fifteen to twenty minutes each day, after school, we were home, watching television and doing our homework. Still, when I was ten, I was home alone for that time. In suburban Connecticut, this was not a big deal in 1990.
On one particular afternoon, I thought it would be a good idea to test the town’s emergency system. I picked up the receiver on our Lego telephone in the family room, and dialed 9-1-1. My initial thoughts were to dial, and hang up, and nothing more would come of it. I was not the type of child to prank call people, but this was a test of the emergency capabilities of my hometown.
Still, the operator’s voice on the end of the line startled me. Quickly, I hung up. There would be no problem…until the telephone rang. When I answered, I waited a few rings before answering with a groggy voice. The emergency operator asked if everything was okay, and I said it was, as I had been napping. BRILLIANT THINKING!
Still, he asked to speak to an adult, and there in lay the catch. I told the officer that my mother wasn’t home, and he asked me to have her call when she did arrive. I needed a new plan, and had it by the time Mom got home. I was honest, and told her that the police had called and wanted her to call the station when she got home. When she asked why, I told her I didn’t have a clue. HOW COULD I NOT GET AWAY WITH THIS?!
Needless to say, I didn’t (and yet, I went and said it anyway). It seemed like that by the time my mother had hung up the telephone, and said my full name, I was grounded. My grounding, however, was not that bad. My father added to the punishment that I could not be out of my room until I had read Joseph Girzone’s Joshua and the Children. Clearly, this was a punishment; having to read a book was bad enough, but he made me read one about living a good Christian life. Great lesson on his part, actually, however my father underestimated my love of reading. My grounding was over within three days.
As for my nineteen-year-old lie, that was something of a clever ruse. However, the story began two years earlier. After futilely attempting to gain weight to play football in high school, I finished my career in November 1997, just fifteen pounds heavier than when I had started. Still, by the end of my senior year, I had somehow added another fifteen pounds. Therefore, when I went to college, I figured there would be no freshman fifteen.
I was right; there was a freshman thirty, instead. The all-you-can-eat buffet style of Siena College’s Serra Hall was a junk-food junkie’s wildest dream. Regardless of the Saga-monster getting you, there was no way you couldn’t gain weight when you ate a steady diet of pizza, semi-homemade macaroni and cheese, cheeseburgers, turkey sandwiches with potato chips, chicken tenders, and omelets…along with taco Tuesdays and the bi-weekly turkey dinners.
In May 1999, after one year at college, I returned home weighing 230 pounds. I didn’t help that during that summer, my friends and I spent most nights at the local diner talking after work and eating what we dubbed the 11:30 Special. This consisted of a bacon, egg, and cheese on a hard-roll and a regular coffee with cream and several sugars per cup. Strangely, I only gained five pounds that entire summer. However, the worst day was near the Fourth of July, when a friend of mine told me I looked like a whale when I decided to go out in a white t-shirt and khaki cargo pants.
Thus, it was that much worse when I returned after my sophomore year weighing between 265 and 270 pounds. Still, by then, I had learned how to hide it. And so, during the Millennium Summer of 2000, I laid out one the greatest lies I have ever told. Throughout that summer, I convinced my friends that I had actually dropped fifteen pounds since the previous Christmas, and was in fact, 225 pounds. To this day, I do not know why they bought it, but they did. For a while, I had myself convinced I was losing weight, but there was no truth to it. I was huge. Something had to change.
It did. She changed me. Stacey and I began dating during the Christmas break of our junior years at Siena, and somehow, I started losing weight around the time we met. Sometimes she refuses to take credit for the change, but she has to. Over the next four years, I dropped down to the 197 pounds I weighed the day before my wedding. While the weight loss clued my friends into what a total liar I was, I got so much more out of the deal.
So there you have it, I am a liar. Normally, people do not like liars. Still, I would have to say that I am likeable. I have friends and my family truly does love me. Wait; maybe they are liars, too. Well, no, that would be highly doubtful, as my mother is one of the most honest people imaginable. Weezie is somewhere between George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in the honesty department. I would say to scrap that thought, if my lying were not so prevalent. Why am I a liar? Where did my penchant for twisting the truth…
See there’s another lie. I blatantly make things up all the time. It is rare that my lie is simply a spin on reality.
Again, where did this inclination for lying come from? The answer to this question has baffled my family and me for years. Though there is no clear source for such conduct, it is not as though my lies have hurt anyone. Well, perhaps they have, but I have no knowledge of that. To find the foundation of my lying proclivity, one may have to look at my father.
Most people would state that such behavior is not genetically transferred. I would have to agree. Still, my father is the key to my lying. Most people would point to his sociology degree, and his thesis on deviant behavior. Clearly, my father, The Observer, would have had a field day if he had written about me for his dissertation. There is a minor antisocial disorder within the psyche anyone who lies as much as I do. Therefore, I could be labeled quite deviant.
Still, I do not think that it is this aspect of my father that one should observe when looking at me. Some have called it second-child/middle child syndrome. Second children at times, and middle-children generally, tend to be self-chosen black sheep of their family. They are deviant in a way unlike all others. These children are more independent, and act out for attention. Ask Dr. Spock.
My father was considered the troublemaker by my Grandmother. His siblings also see him in this light. Perhaps this is why my aunt, the third child of 4, was sent to private school. My father must have been the instigator for many things to get such a harsh punishment for a non-offender. Yet, I have never known my father to be anything but compassionate and self-giving.
Still, to this day, I am always compared to my father. This isn’t so bad, unless it’s a self-comparison. Then, it is like being hit with lightening. We are a lot alike, and as he says, I have “JLM disease”…just like me. We have quite the same quirky character. We’re loud, and don’t even realize it. We tend to drop bombs, rather than give news. We completely overreact, and have short tempers. We’re good hearted, and as quick as our tempers are, we’re quicker to beg forgiveness or offer it.
I’m wondering if he ever lied. He was definitely a scooch. How else can one explain his desire to study deviance? He was interested in why people did things that went against the norm. I am, too. Moreover, we are both secretly sympathetic to these people, as long as they’re not hurting anyone else. He must have...HE DID! He'll deny lying, however, he knows as well as I do that there is a little plastic sword in the foundation of my grandmother's neighbors' house. There is a little plastic sword that my father was not allowed to have, but he traded his wooden train whistle for it, and hid it in the construction site next door so my grandparents wouldn't find out. What a sneaky devil he was! Well, there's one lie...and could help explain my issues with telling the truth.
There you have it. I am a liar. Yet, from here, you will read on because everything following this is the truth. How can you believe me, if I am readily admitting that I am a liar? There is no reason to trust me, but like I said, my lies are never to twist the truth. Therefore, you’ll find a way to read on, and believe. You see, this is how I remember it…

1 comment:

Sara said...

Ok,

1) I am definitely going to enjoy your book.

2) I like hearing the 9-1-1 story from your point of view. I was almost crying with laughter.

3) "Never hurt anyone" -- yeah, right! I'm still pissed about being punished for biting the belt.

No wonder Daddy kept threatening to send me to Saint Cyril's when I was young.