Freedom is not having to lie.

by f

via flickr user Dietpoison

I am a very, very good liar. Nobody ever knows what I’m truly up to. Chances are, if I say I’m somewhere, I’m not.

For instance, take this week. My parents think I’m staying with a friend while they’re overseas. Instead, I am having amazing, amazing sex with my fiance in his underground crazy-dark lair buried deep in J Sq.

My piano teacher thinks that I’m languishing in my Jersey suburban home. My father told me — in no uncertain terms — that I should not go to class while my mother is not here (she takes lessons as well) because it messes up his accounting.

All right.

But my teacher became very insistent, so I lied. He wanted to know where I was and why I couldn’t come in. So I started smoothing out the edges of my story. The bustling scape of Union Square became the television. When I closed my eyes as I stood on that crowded street — moments before I was supposed to meet my friend Tiffany — I felt that I was really alone on the futon chair, watching Law and Order, as I would have done if I stayed home. I felt genuinely sad; being stuck in that suburban hellhole is no fun.

I made my voice feel stretched and lonely and a little frightened. It was method acting taken to a new level, just one more rung on the ladder to hell.

Ten minutes later, Tiffany met me in the city.

(She, too, does not know about my fiance; I never told her because it never occurred to me say … and now that I haven’t, it’s so comfortable to lie.)

Together we went to the Strand. As we browsed, we came upon the McSweeney’s magazines on a narrow shelf facing the back wall.  As Tiffany took it up to look at the cover, we noticed something written in the back.

“Freedom,” she read out loud, “is having not to lie.”

I sucked in my breath.

She put the book back in the shelf, gently.


My grandfather is dying. His heart is weak. He falls often. He pisses into urine bottles. He’s suffering from dementia. After his most recent fall in the bathroom, the doctors had to schedule surgery to drain the blood from his brain. While I was out, my parents called to update me on the situation.

“Where are you now?” my mother asked.

Unable to think of a lie, I told her the truth. I have no idea why I lapsed.

“At this time of night?”

I craned my head to look at the clock. It was around ten at night. I shouldn’t have told her that I was out. I should’ve said that I was safe in my friend’s house. I mean, my fiance’s house. I mean, no, no, I wasn’t there.

“Uh, yeah.”

“Don’t be too wild,” my mother said. “At what point will you stop? Your grandfather is dying –”

(There’s no love lost between my mother and her father-in-law)

“– and you can’t tell me the truth. Where are you?”

“I told you the truth.”

She sighed.

“I can never tell,” she said, “You’re with him. I know you are with him.”

(He is my fiance. She is right.)

I beacme desperate as the truth was fleshed out. Unknowingly. I tried a powerful guilt trip. “What can I do?” I asked, “what can I do to get you to believe that I’m telling the truth?”

Except that I’m not. Except I couldn’t tell my mother the truth on pain of death. And whose fault is that? Mine — yes, mine — but not entirely. There’s a reason why I lie, and I should never forget that. I lie because I’m scared for my life.

I lie for a thousand other reasons, but I never forget that one. Because that reason keeps my facades together, a kalidescope of lies, stories that never quite intersect. Because, though I haven’t written about them, my life has been governed by these experiences that I can never quite share.

Experiences that reach down to the roots of Subterfuge itself.

You could go down to the depths of my soul and find the lies nestled there. Some told out of desperation, some calculated beyond any reason, some even I believe, even though I know that they’re not true.

Where does it stop?

Freedom is liberation from these lies, this ridiculous and unnecessary prison I’ve built for myself, so that I can experience these temporary, fleeting moments of happiness.

4 Comments to “Freedom is not having to lie.”

  1. Wow. Your life is more interesting than mine!
    Between the both of us, it’s the lies that set us free. Sure, there’s a place for truth, but lies fire up the imagination. Lies can be motivated by different things, but they soften the hard impact of the truth.

    Without lies, I’d have to accept that I have bad teeth. And I don’t want to! My teeth aren’t teeth, they’re pearls, dammit!

  2. @Roxy – Lol, pearls! You’r hilarious. :p I love the visuals you give!

    @F – I’m a pretty good liar, too, although I used to be better at it. Although, I admit, I mostly lied out of convenience or desperation because I was afraid if I told the truth I’d be punished. For example, I always told my grandfather it was untrue that I’m bisexual – even though it IS true that I am. And, I did the same to my mother and my step-father. And, I just never mentioned it to the majority of my friends or other relatives. For each group of people the reason was generally different. But, either way, whether it was a lie of “convenience” or a lie of “desperation” it was still something I felt compelled to do, something I felt was necessary at that point in time.

    Whether lying can be good or bad for someone’s situation is really not the point. It becomes problematic when we feel that we are FORCED to lie for one reason or another. And we need to step back and wonder why we feel forced to do so. Is it a worry of our own making? Is it a worry over society? Or a worry over religion? Or a worry over someone in authority over us such as a boss or our parents or other family members? Or is it a combination thereof?

    Choosing to lie is one thing, feeling pressure or desperation to lie to preserve your reputation or your physical wellbeing is quite another.

  3. Do you always feel guilty about your lies ?

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