When I was a kid my parents always told me to tell the truth. If you do something wrong and get caught, just tell the truth. Don’t try to cover it up, don’t try to deny it and never try to blame it on someone else. Those are all good guidelines and I tried to follow them, but I didn’t always tell the truth. One of the first times that I can remember where I realized I could lie and actually get away with it, was in third grade. Not that I never lied before that, but I remember this one like it was yesterday!
It occurred just after recess on a fine spring morning. Two lucky people got to bring balls out to recess but they had to return them to the closet at the back of the room afterward. On this particular day my good friend Smitty got one of the balls, and as we were hanging up our coats he went into the closet to return it. I thought it would be funny to close the door and leave him in the dark, so after taking a quick look around, I shut the door. Just as I was pulling it shut, he turned around and saw what was happening. He started running toward the door, terror in his eyes, but he was too slow to react. The door closed in his face and I quickly went back to my seat, chuckling to myself that I put one over on my buddy. I figured he’d just open the door, try to get me back and then go to his desk. However, there was one small detail I didn’t know about that closet door; it didn’t open from the inside. Smitty found out pretty quick and started banging on the door.
My teacher, Mrs. O’Reilly, went and opened the door. She was a no-nonsense, old-school teacher and asked Smitty why he was disturbing her class. Five seconds later, I was asked to join the two of them at the back of the class. Mrs. O’Reilly pointed at Smitty, who had tears in his eyes, and asked me if I had shut the door on him. If I said yes, I’d be in trouble; if I said no, I’d still be in trouble if she didn’t believe me. I looked at Smitty, my friend who lived on the next street over from mine, begging me to tell the truth to get him out of trouble. I looked at Mrs. O’Reilly, my teacher wanting to know what the heck was going on, and… I lied through my teeth. I denied closing the door on Smitty, all the while looking straight into her eyes. And she believed me!
Looking back on this time got me thinking, what if we all had to tell the truth? Imagine some of the interactions that would take place.
Your boss: What were you thinking?
You: I wasn’t!
Old acquaintance: Hey, we should get together and hang out.
You: Sorry, I have better things to do than relive the 90’s.
Co-worker: Have you seen the new Vampire show on the WB?
You: I’d rather poke my eyes out with a dirty screwdriver.
The person who tripped, fell and spilled their meal all over the floor: You think that’s funny?
You: Yes. Yes, I do.
Your teenage son: Why can’t you drive me to Johnny’s house?
You: Because that would mean I have to get up off the couch, get dressed and leave the house.
Your wife: Does this outfit make me look fat?
That’s where the corollary to the always-tell-the-truth rule comes in. My parents taught us that sometimes you shouldn’t say anything at all, if you don’t have anything nice to say. That’s another good guideline to follow. No cover up, no denial, no blame. And no lie.