Saturday, May 21, 2005
Creative Lying 101
When we were growing up, my sister Iris was always getting caught. She would just latch onto an idea and run with it without thinking about the consequences. And she was a terrible liar.

When she was in fourth grade she decided to skip Catholic school for the day and just stay home. She told our aunt it was a Holy Day of Obligation. Unfortunately she was busted when one of her classmates who lived on our street dropped off her homework to her.

I was appalled.

"What were you thinking telling her it was a Holy Day? Are you crazy?"

Iris grinned. "You know, she bought it too until Eric showed up at the door. I don't know whether she was more mad that I skipped school or that she was caught not knowing the Holy Days."

"Still you should plan it better than that." I shook my head. "Next time you should just pretend to go to school and then hang out in the woods all day or something."

She cocked her head to one side. "But I didn't want to hang out in the woods. I wanted to stay in my room and listen to the radio and write."

Unlike my sister, I was a master planner. I kept sheets of paper hidden in my notebook filled with line after line of "I will not misbehave in class" just in case of emergencies. Sometimes I would sell them to other students at a dollar per page.

I was big on contingency plans and always had a Plan A and Plan B in case I got caught. And I always tried to stay as close to the truth as I could.

When I wriggled out of yardwork:
"I did rake the yard. But then the wind kicked up and blew them all over the place again."

Or when I wanted to read The Count of Monte Cristo instead of doing chores:
"I have so much homework to do. My teacher wants me turn in a book report on this by Wednesday."

Iris, on the other hand, enjoyed making up fantastic lies and wild stories and really didn't care if she got caught.

Once my aunt and cousins freaked out because she never came home after school. They called the school and some of her classmates and even drove around town looking for her. It was getting dark out, and they were about to call the police when she finally walked in the door.

She was purple.

My aunt was furious "Where have you been, young lady?! Do you realize we have been all over town looking for you? "

"I'm sorry."

"Where have you been? And what's that all over your clothes?" My aunt was so mad she was staring to turn a little purple herself.

Iris explained that she and her friend Angie had taken a bus after school to go to the downtown library to study. On the way back they had taken the wrong bus but didn't realize it until they were way out on the edge of town. They had finally gotten off and had to wait forever for another bus to come by to take them back.

I watched my sister closely, trying to figure out if she was lying or not. Iris was notorious for being easily distracted and having no sense of direction. I knew our aunt was probably going through the same mental debate.

"What is that purple stuff all over you? It's in your hair and clothes and all over your face! What did you do!"

Iris wrapped a lock of hair around one purple finger. "Well, while we were waiting for the other bus to take us back, Angie and I found some blackberry bushes at the side of the road. I thought that maybe if I gathered a bunch of them and brought them home you could make a pie with them. I had a good armful but then I tripped over a root and slid down the embankment. The berries got squashed and went everywhere."

Aunt Fran grabbed Iris by the shirt. "What were you thinking? Just look at this mess! This is never going to come out! I can't afford to keep buying you and Juno nice things if you keep ruining them!"

She shoved Iris toward the hall, disgusted. "I want you to go to your room and take those things off right now and throw them away. You are going to be grounded for two weeks, young lady. do you hear me? No friends, no TV, no phone--nothing! And you will do extra chores around the house to help pay for those clothes."

I followed Iris into her room and closed the door.

"Ok, spill it."

She looked at herself in the mirror and laughed. "What a mess!"

"Did you really catch the wrong bus?" I was curious.

"Nah." Iris pulled her shirt over her head and tossed it on the floor. "Angie and I just got bored and decided to go exploring. We went downtown and walked around the shops and stuff and bought ice cream."

I was fascinated. "What about the blackberries?"

"That actually happened when we got back." Stepping out of her shorts, she rubbed her legs. "Look at all these scratches! I forget how prickly those bushes are."

"Anyway," she continued, "We got off the bus and started walking home and there were these blackberry bushes at the side of the road. Angie picked one and threw it at me, then I threw one back at her, and before we knew it we were both covered in blackberry juice."

"You had a blackberry fight?"

"Uh huh." She grinned. "It was a blast."

"I don't think Aunt Fran believed you."

"She never knows what to think. She's either going to be mad at me because I did something wrong or because she thinks I'm stupid, so I might as well make up a good story. I'm going to be punished either way."

She had a point.

Besides it there was something satisfying about keeping Aunt Fran guessing.

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Memories and musings shared by Juno
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I'm a 40-something writer, artist, and Jill-of-All-Trades. For me, magic is looking at the ordinary and seeing the extraordinary. My writing tends to take me to unexpected places--not so surprising when I think about it. I had an unusual growing up and have always chosen the offbeat over the "safe". I prefer interesting people over beautiful ones, and I am fascinated by people's stories. What I love most about life is its glorious imperfections and fantastic plot twists.

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