Monday, August 4, 2008

the red dog incident

when i was five years old, i stole gum from the checkout line after grocery shopping with my mom. when she noticed that i had it and asked me about it, i lied to her and told her i had found it.

i have seriously never seen my mother so angry with me. she marched my happy ass back in there and made me give it back, and apologize to the store manager. she then gave me an ass whoopin and shoved me back in the car. i cried the whole way home and felt guilty for weeks afterward. over gum! the kind that had the sweet liquid on the inside, that sugary, bright pink mess that exploded candy wonderful in my mouth... it was so worth it. i may have apologized to the manager through tears feigning apologies, but i was inevitably more pissed that my gum, which i had so calculatingly taken when no one was looking, was no longer in my posession but in someone's hands less worthy of my own.

i never was the smoothest of individuals, until i figured out that i could lie my ass off about anything and get away with it. it took several years from that intitial brush with kleptomania to perfect how to do it, but once i realized how to get the stories i created out of my head and manifest them into actuality there was no stopping me.

when i was sixteen my parents went out of town and unwisely put me under the charge of my friends twenty-one year old sister who didn't really give a shit about following the strict guidelines my mother and father laid out in their absence. it was a blast; no curfew, no stipulations, just me having a weeklong break from the man. on one of the last days we had a barbeque and bought a case of red dog beer, which i never ended up drinking all the way through because it happened to be disgusting. i bought it becuse i love bulldogs, the mascot gracing the label and the box all over. this made sense to me and kind of still does. when i buy wine now and i don't know anything about the wine itself i'll pick it for the packaging, which i also have a tendency to do with bottled water and movies in the discount box. it's hit or miss really, but in the end i'd rather have a cool looking bottle than a great glass of wine, i guess.

anyway. several months later my dad was walking around my car outside, smoking a cigarette, and felt compelled to go into my car and poke around. *note to parents: if you can't control your anger when you find things that are age-inappropriate in your child's personal space, wait a few days to talk to them so you won't fly off the handle. it works. trust me on that. and poke he did. he first found a silver cigarette case that my friend lindsay had given me, and upon going into my trunk he found two (out of the ten i had drank two months before) warm red dogs that had been rolling around across random papers and pointe shoes over the course of a couple weeks. i watched the whole thing happen. i was talking to my friend melissa and looking at him from my brother's room which stood two stories above where he was in our driveway. i ran down the stairs and flew into the kitchen saying "it's not what you think! it's not what you think!!!" and waving my hands around like a madman.

my father (who subsequently LIVES for shit like this to happen and who, on multiple occasions have i said this, should be graced with his own theme music for effect and dramatic pauses when he gets angry) had already laid the objects out on the counter in a manner that an attourney would with evidence. in retrospect i'm a little surprised they weren't labeled objects A, B, and C, and supported with graphs and flow charts for the jury to make their decision. he looked at me from his place next to them, and with a raised eyebrow in his best clint eastwood-esque voice said, "oh really. then, katie, might i ask... what are these items? please, do tell..." it was the quickest and most elaborate story i could come up with. one that was epic in itself, not because i think the lie was perfect in essence and delivery, but because of how it all unfolded.

those beers, you see, were not from the barbeque i had prior to that date. i couldn't even go into that, because that would have been admission that i had not only drank the other beer before stowing the final two in my car, it would have also meant i would've gotten in trouble about the party during the summer and i just couldn't have that. instead, the beer was given to me and vanessa (my counterpart in everything that i did, even though i don't even think she was there at the party) in the parking lot of TGIFridays by two unnamed boys in my grade that i didn't know very well. i had already figured out prior to this day that if i blamed something on peer pressure it was a whole lot easier for me to get out of, because in that case it wasn't entirely my fault; i was growing up and felt the pressure of adolescence and adulthood crashing together in my head. so my MO for this one was just that... we weren't going to drink the beer, we just wanted to be accepted by our peers and had every intention of throwing the beer out but had just forgotton on the ride home. i accepted ownership of the cigarette tin, but he couldn't really say anything about that because he had smoked all my life and it was a little bit his fault that i had idolized him and therefore held him partially responsible for introducing me to smoking. but that was less the issue than the beer itself, and what happened next was simply a mix of great fortune and quick thinking on my part.

there's nothing worse than being confronted with one of your own lies, especially when the odds are no longer in your favor. as soon as he heard me say vanessa, he told me to go to my room, and that he would be inviting her over to the house to see if her story had matched mine. my heart sank hearing those words, although i couldn't show it in my face that i knew it was all over. i was determined to prove my lie as truth. i turned around and walked out of the kitchen, letting the swinging door that usually remained open wave shut behind me. directly to my right in our dining room there was a buffet that my mother always kept her purse on, and as luck would have it, her cell phone was sitting right on top. i grabbed it and ran like hell upstairs and into my closet, where i frantically called vanessa who had just recieved the phone call from my parents requesting her presence in my kitchen to look over the evidence from our fictional night together. i told her exactly what she needed to know and crept back down to return the phone, as if it had never left it's cradle in my mother's purse.

i think my parents were more angry with me for actually getting away with it than having the beer in my posession, and i got grounded anyway just for the principle of it. i was fine with it. i had gotten away with a lie of epic proportions and therefore, scot-free. i never really felt guilty about it, because in all honesty, they never let me do anything and my curfew was set at 11 the entire four years of highschool, so i figured in a way, i was repaying myself the debt they held over my head. it was totally worth those three weeks of groundation to get away with that one little lie, which wasn't really a big deal to begin with.

since then i haven't really had to lie like that. well, not to the same effect and not as frequently, i should say. i don't have anyone to answer to and on the most part, i've stopped caring so much about what other people think is right or wrong. and, throughout the years since the red dog incident, i have also realized that everyone lies. even the most honest person you have ever met has feigned sickness instead of admitting one too many tequilas at the bar the night before to his boss, or downplaying a crush to a significant other. it doesn't matter whether it's gum or sex... a lie is still a lie, no matter the caibur, no matter the backstory. and we all do it.

i think now it's less a question of for what reason, and more a question of why. if there's no reason, then why still feel compelled to twist the truth around the pinkie finger? and that, i can blame myself for. there are times when i opt not to tell the truth, because i still feel this insane propulsion to protect other people from what i am, from what they may percieve me as, even though as an adult i no longer need that form of acceptance. and juvenile as it may be, it's also habitual, and that is the hardest innate thing to break.

lying can get us anything we want in the world. but what i've come to find out, that the emotional repercussions of the parties involved has everything to do with whether or not you want to risk it. maybe it's time i get a new habit. i think i may take up knitting, or bocce ball. but most likely, that's a lie, and like most things that people say nowadays, can't be trusted.


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