LYING has always ranked among my top five most destructive social gaffes, together with racism, sexism, bullying and nerdism – that pointless peer pressure thing that paralyses for decades perfectly decent people who wore glasses and evaded snogging until at least matric.
And that’s not to say that I’m a truth saint. I’ve lied often enough during my life that I’ve become eerily at ease with it – able to keep a straight face and never revealing my despicable action with subconscious giveaways, such as rubbing my nose or darting my eyes back and forth.
When I was eight, I told my first lie. It was after my music lesson with Mrs Roode, who baked the best rusks in Randburg.
That woman had the nicest-smelling kitchen ever and, taking the gap, I snuck a handful of crumbs from the sides of the pan, assuming she wouldn’t notice.
As I left, she asked if I’d seen a mouse in the house. Right then, I knew. And she knew that I knew, but neither of us was telling. She never chastised me and I maintained my passion for piano, despite its now indelible link, in my fruitful child’s mind, with illicit baked goods.
Two years ago, I hooked up with her daughters on Facebook and after comparing marriage, work and offspring notes, I confessed. Marli had a laugh and a half, but promised to tell her mother, who, miraculously, didn’t recall the incident.
Did I feel better? You betcha!
For nearly 30 years, I’ve always imagined Mrs Roode remembering plump, greedy Beth as the student who got away with it.
Coming clean was free therapy – and it’s made me a more savvy mother too.
See, the thing about lying is that we’re so caught up in doing it, or at the receiving end of it, that we never consider why honesty isn’t as on-trend as it should be. They’ve done studies on lies and they’re not just black and white.
In fact, they’re shades of yellow, grey and red too. And some people can’t help themselves – it’s pathological and biological. Something to do with having less grey brain matter or some such.
For the likes of you and me, though, the truth about lies is that we do it because we’re afraid. And it’s done to us, because the liar is probably afraid too.
If you have one or two mates who habitually evade telling you like it is, chances are they’re terrified of your reaction and don’t, really, like you all that much. I had one of those – she told me that we couldn’t come over one morning because she’d just washed her floors; when actually, she was off to a mutual friend’s house for a braai and we hadn’t been invited.
That’s the thing about lies.
They come back to bite you on the bum. She hadn’t told her husband to spin the same story and so, when we saw him later that day, he innocently foot-in-mouthed it, outing her and starting the beginning of the end of that friendship.
Hanging with honesty can be painful, but it’s the easiest road to salvation and contentment. I know, for example, that when my friend Osnat, who doesn’t do lies, period, told me that I couldn’t visit because she’d just sprayed pesticide in the kids’ rooms, she’d really sprayed pesticide in the kids’ rooms.
And it’s those types of people who won’t let you go out in a mini-skirt when you’ve put on 10kg.
You’ll hate them for a split-second and then love them for life, as they’re as rare as honest politicians.
Be the person you want others to be. That’s the truth, as I see it.