Pants on Fire

Lying is part of every day life. Some lies are necessary, some are cruel, some are somewhere in between. Some are outright lies, some are lies of omission, some are what we call white lies. Nobody likes to be lied to. And yet, we all tell lies, and are lied to all the time.

  1. When we first met and started flirting with each other, I asked him if he was married and he said he was divorced.  After going out a couple of times, something didn’t feel right, so I did some investigating and found out he was married. “Well, ya,” he finally admitted, “but it’s my second marriage and I was divorced — you never asked if I got married again.”
  2. I told Tara a joke one day. A year later we were at a gathering and Tara told the joke to the group, but told it as if it was something that had actually happened to her just recently. Suddenly, all the zany stories Tara had told about her life became suspect.
  3. “How many guys have you had sex with?” my daughter ask. “None of your business, my child,” I say.  “I know at least two,” the daughter responds, “and what about when you “go out” with that French guy?” I make no acknowledgement or denial of her assumptions.
  4. Margo is excited about her new haircut and asks everyone at work what they think of it. It’s horrible and makes Margo look like a prisoner-of-war. Most people tell her it looks great.
  5. The doctor told us not to tell our dad that his cancer is terminal unless he specifically asks. Dad went through the recommended surgery and chemotherapy, making plans for the future. We said nothing. I kept thinking, I’d want to know. But, he never asked. Eventually, the doctor told him truth. Within days, Dad went into a rapid decline.
  6. I arrive to pick a friend up for a movie we’ve been planning to see for weeks. She answers the door saying she’s suddenly come down with a massive headache and can’t go. Her teenaged daughter appears and says, “She’s not really sick. Her boyfriend is coming over and she’d rather be with him.” Disdainfully, she turns to her mother and says, “You’re such a liar.”

Some of these lies were necessary for one reason or another. Some cowardly. Some just silly. And some just weird.

I’m sure we’ve all been impacted to lesser or greater degrees because of someone else’s lies. Perhaps we’ve even made some significant impact, for good or bad,  on others because of our lies.

Some people believe there are no grey areas when it comes to lying – that any lie is wrong. Some people think you can’t go through life and get along with people without telling lies on pretty much a regular basis.

21 responses to “Pants on Fire

  1. I’ve never understood people who will lie continually when there is absolutely no reason to lie – not to be nice, or make you feel better or to impress or get out of doing something, but just because.

  2. I consider myself to be a reasonably honest person, but for sure, there are areas where it’s better to lie. I’ve lied to customers to avoid unnecessary panic on their part. I’ve lied to friends about how they look. I’ve lied to my mother about what I was getting up to when I was young and single. Even my standard response, ‘Fine, thanks!’ is often a big lie. No one needs to hear me whining.

    But number 6? The memories still sting of being ditched in high school because my so-called friends got a better offer. I can’t believe adults still behave like this toward one another.

  3. i was a compulsive liar when i was kid – always making up stories to impress my peers. it’s actually pretty embarassing now lookng back on it as i’m sure no one believed the crap i was spewing out. now, i try not to lie. my life might seem really boring, but i don’t make things up to make it seem more exciting.

  4. I knew someone who prided himself on never ever lying. Basically it was an excuse for being downright mean I think.

    I don’t care how “honest” you are, telling someone you haven’t seen in a while. “Wow, you’ve gotten really fat” under the guise of honesty is just downright hurtful and nasty. I’m sure there’s a special place reserved in hell for him. At least I hope so.

  5. There are lots of grey areas when it comes to lying. I don’t lie as a matter of course, but there are times when lies are not such a big deal. I’ve lied in order to keep surprise parties a secret. I’ve lied about not knowing about someone’s really big news (engagement, pregnancy) when in fact some other blabbermouth had already spilled the beans to me), and I’ve occasionally lied to my kids when telling the truth just doesn’t seem appropriate (like in case #3).

    A friend of mine once told me that lying to her was the absolute worst thing her kids could do. She didn’t like it if her children made up stories about things that happened to them. Since her kids were 5 and 3 at the time I felt this was a bit too much to expect. I think until a kid is older the line between reality and imagination is blurred. Sometimes my daughter will tell me about things that she did or saw that are actually stories from books we read. I don’t think she’s lying when she does that–she just doesn’t have a clear handle yet on which memories are truly hers and which ones are just stories told to her.

  6. Violetsky – I knew someone like that once, who just lied about absolutely everything. If you asked him what he had for breakfast he’d say eggs, even if he had pancakes or say pancakes if he had eggs. It was fascinating to watch. He’d lie about where he’d been or what he’d been doing to other people when the people he’d been with were right there and knew he was lying. Very weird.

    Stella – #6 – all the time! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been ditched by women because their boyfriends/husbands decided at the last minute they wanted them.

    Meanie – Sure you don’t. And why should we believe you now, when you’ve just admitted to having been a compulsive liar? For that matter how do we even know you really used to be a compulsive liar? Eh? Huh? (hee-hee)

    Bandobras – You are clever

    Jazz – Sometimes it’s better to just say nothing. It’s tough if someone actually asks you, “so, how do I look?” You don’t have to say they look great, but there’s also no need to be hurtful — say, “that shirt looks awesome on you” or “you don’t look a day older than the last time I saw you”. Not – “holy crap, you’ve gotten fat”.

    Mary Lynn – It’s hard with little kids sometimes to know if they’re telling stories because they’re enjoying making conversation or because they really can’t tell the difference between reality and fantasy. Sometimes — like if they break something or eat something they shouldn’t have – it’s pretty clear they do know how to out and out lie. When they tell stories as if it’s stuff that happened to them, I think they know it’s not real, but I think they think that about stories grown-ups tell each other, too. Like when we’re talking about vacations in the past and the child says, “I remember, that was fun” and you say, “no, you weren’t even born yet”. They look at you suspiciously as if you’re just making stuff up.

  7. This is a tough one. To me, whether lying is “right” or “wrong” is definitely not black and white. I think the intention behind the lie needs to be taken into consideration. (Maybe we get more karma points if the reason behind the lie was to protect someone, etc.?)

    Life is always more complicated when lies are involved, so that’s one reason I try to avoid them as much as possible. The people who can lie with ease and not get caught must have amazing memories. 🙂

    Were it gets tough for me is with the stories Claire tells. Both her father and I read to her fanciful stories about all kinds of things that couldn’t possibly happen. We even make up stories! And encourage her to add her own details! And, then we wonder where she gets these elaborate excuses for things? 😉

    She’s not even 3 yet, so we have a few years to go before we accidentally kill part of her imagination in hopes that she understands the importance of telling the truth. Or, hopefully, we’ll be able to keep her imagination in tact while instilling the importance of not lying.

    Time will tell, I guess. 😉

  8. I try not to lie about anything important, but there are times when a little lie is just so much simpler than the truth. Unfortunately I tend to look guilty when I lie, so I’m kind of transparent. (I also tend to look guilty when I’m accused of something, whether I did it or not.)

    I had a very good friend who went through a phase of believing that the only thing that would set her free of her depression was to be brutally, unfailingly honest with herself and everybody else. It was awful. There are everyday lies that we all participate in that have a social purpose, and she made everybody around her feel uncomfortable by refusing to lie. For example, if the grocery store checkout clerk asked “How are you?” my friend would share the details of her depression, her heavy bleeding, whatever. Even worse, she’d then ask the clerk how SHE was, and then challenge her honesty when she replied “Fine thanks.” Like I said, it was awful.

  9. #1 and #6 make me just chring (sp?). Both of those ones bother me equally as much.

    I would consider myself a pretty honest person too. Some times it hurts to hear the truth, but in the end it’s better…

    If I was in the #6 senario, I would have been much happier with this person caling me earlier in the day saying that they can’t make it, instead of showing up at their door. Ugh.

  10. OKay…still laughing at #2!!! I have one of those friends!

    I believe in a few fibs! As long as it’s to make everything right with the world…it’s a go!!

  11. I have to add case 3 isn’t a lie at all. You told her it was none of her business.
    Parents should never ever tell their kids they have sex. When my older sister told me our parents had sex my head exploded and I still haven’t got all the pieces back together.
    That was about a month ago and it hurts.

  12. Hello… sick days! 1/2 of what I see taken in my office have nothing to do with being sick, myself included. It’s silly really everyone knows when it’s a real sick day anyway…

  13. CP – Even telling lies with good intentions isn’t always right Like #5 – this has always been very hazy to me. I know I would want to know and I would ask, but he never asked, so did he not want to know? Were we right in keeping such important information from him, even though, as it turned out once he had the information he pretty much gave up on life? Would he have given up if he’d had the information sooner? Was he too far gone by then to do anything useful with the information? (i.e: put his affairs in order)

    Zoom – Ya, I can see how complete honesty all the time would not win you friends and/or influence people. Kids are often like that – brutally, embarassingly honest.

    A&J – Ya, #6 sucked big time. Our relationship was never the same again.

    Helen – #2 is kind of amusing, but it sure made me look at that person in a different light. I find I don’t believe any of her stories anymore

    Bandobras – Ya, I don’t think kids need to know details like that — maybe when she’s much older. Her argument is that I always need to know where she’s going and what she’s doing. Sometimes she doesn’t seem very clear on the whole parent/child relationship dynamic.

    Kitty – Hmmm – interesting example. I don’t know how it works everywhere, but in the government we are alloted so many sick days per so many days worked and they accumulate over the life of your career. I have about 7 months worth saved up. Some people use theirs up right away whether or not they’re sick. Some people save them until just before they retire and then are sick for months and months at a time until retirement day. I guess if you don’t get sick day allotments then it’s like stealing a day’s pay from the company (not to mention adding work burden on your coworkers), but if you are alloted the sick days, is it still wrong to take them once in a while even if you’re not sick? Like maybe you’re just sick of work that day or you need to de-stress??

  14. I’m sitting in the theater watching Shia Lebeouf’s latest thriller, “Beagle Eye.” The movie ends and I remain seated, waiting for the crowd to thin out. A chubby guy in overalls looks my way and says “Hey, how’s it going?” Given his long beard, my immediate thought was “Do I know any Hasidic Jews who wear overalls?” I couldn’t place him for the life of me, so my years of thespian experience kicked in. “Hey man, long time no see…how have you been?” I replied. After talking to him for 5 minutes and asking generic questions, I realized he was a co-worker from way-back-when. It’s occasions like those where lies come in handy. Sure, I could have said “Do I know you? Cause you’re a scary looking S.O.B and instinct tells me to run,” but that would have been insensitive.

  15. What about people who get a perverse pleasure out of always telling the truth? When I do that, tell the truth, the awful truth, sometimes I feel far more wicked than if I had lied.

  16. ooh, great subject and equally great examples.

    the lying topic is one of keen interest to me. i’ve always considered myself an honest person until i cleaned up my act (got sober) and saw that i did, in fact tell lies. it was devastating for me.

    i do my very best each day to not lie, altho when if things get really squirrely, i’ll pull a “by omission” lie.

    the people that lie for absolutely no reason are the most intriguing and they make me sad. most of my friends that have known me for any length of time understand if they ask me a direct question, i will give them an honest answer. even if their butt *does* look big.

    i always hope for the same from others, and get frustrated when others do not return the favor and live up to the “code”.

    that first one, the married guy cracked me up. what’s more, is he expected his reason to be sufficient. oy vey.

  17. Brad – I’m always freaked out when people claim to know me from somewhere and they look totally unfamiliar to me. Often, I’m not as sensitive as you and I just tell them I went through an extreme trauma 5 years ago and have lost most of my long term memory, so please forgive me if I don’t recognize them. That’s when they tell me we met last week.

    Geewits – How naughty! Sometimes people are really asking for the brutal truth, though they’re expecting you to say something that agrees with what they already think.

    DP – Ya, I always find that difficult — big butt, bad haircut. If they out and out ask me “how do you like my haircut?” I just can’t bring myself to say “Great!” if it’s horrible. Of course “horrible” is just my opinion and I wouldn’t say “horrible”. I might say “I liked it better before” or “it’s not the most flattering cut I’ve ever seen on you” or “a little short, but in another week it should look really good” or “what do YOU think of it?” ‘Cuz I reckon they wouldn’t be asking if they liked it themselves, right??

  18. Speedys dad is a pathological liar. he has lied about lies even.

    it annoys the crap out of me because i know he is lying. but he denies it and in turn puts it all back on me.. why am i giving him such a hard time. like its his fault aliens picked up his car and broke it into a million pieces.

    with the lies he tells, his life is more interesting then your average soap but all the depressing stuff. like he should have thrown himself in front of a bus by now depressing.

    meanwhile he is sitting at the bar with his friends and doesnt want to leave to pick his daughter up.

    that is why lying annoys the crap out of me and i dont tolerate it at all

  19. That one about your friend’s daughter was horrific- but rings true over here in the House of the Flying Martinis- my son, Indy is always grassing on me to people. He’s like the Truth Police. I’m hoping he’ll stop soon or else I’m in danger of having all my secrets revealed.

    Oh hang on. I’m a blogger- I’ve done that already myself…

  20. Jobthingy – Ya, I kind of got a whiff of him on your blog. I’ve known one or two like this myself. It seriously sucks when you can’t just walk away from them because they happen to have donated genetic material toward your child.

    MisssyM – I find that the wilder and crazier the parents are the more straight-laced the kids end up sometimes. My daughter can be a real prig sometimes, too.