Daily Archives: Friday, 17 April 2009

Lying

Is something I can’t get away from. It’s a habit; not a drug, exactly, but something that shadows me where ever I go. Even if I never told another lie ever in my life, I’d still have to deal with all the crap I’ve already put people through. Bennett always lied (still does lie, I presume) to avoid confrontation. I’m the kind of person who will tell the truth until it’s advantageous for me to bend it. As a writer, I’d like to think I’m the master of words, but really, I’m just someone who can eek out an idea with words where there wasn’t one before.

For example, I was talking with Zekor the other day about the phrase “and a criminal record like Jack the Ripper‘s” (original context is here, in case anyone cares)… As in “I have a criminal record like Jack the Ripper’s.” Now, think about that for a minute. I know what she thinks she means when she says that, but what is she really saying? She thinks she’s telling people, “I have a criminal record” (this part is pretty self-explanatory) “like Jack the Ripper’s [criminal record]”.. in other words, she’s a notorious murderer who (was never) has never been caught. It was stated facetiously—one can only hope—so it’s not like anyone is going to put a lot of thought into what the words actually imply. Except me, apparently.

Is she talking about Jack the Ripper, the person who killed those women and was never caught, or Jack the Ripper, the persona who haunted many of those poor policemen into their last days? Presumably, the former is a person who didn’t have a record at all, or at least not one we know anything about; if he had, he’d have been caught and punished. The latter, however, has a record so intriguing that multiple academics have earned their doctorates on the evidence (or lack thereof). Indeed, if someone had actually caught the person responsible for the Whitechapel murders (for which Saucy Jack is so famous)—that is, the former Jack in my above question—the allure would be gone. The mystery and intrigue would disappear. Monsters under the bed are scarier when they can’t be seen, after all, because the imagination makes things worse than they actually are. Jack—the latter Jack, I mean, now—is so frustrating and fascinating precisely because we almost have enough information, enough to think we maybe actually do have enough, but the answer keeps slipping through our collective fingers.

So, with all that in mind, does saying “I have a criminal record like Jack the Ripper’s” mean that she has a record, or not? And what does this have to do with lying, anyway?

My point is that, while Bennett may just want to avoid confrontation (and he surely did want to avoid it with at least some of the people in his life, at least while I knew him), I am more the kind of person who gets caught up in the meaning of the words. That is, I sometimes believe my own lies; I figure that if even I don’t believe them, why would anyone else? (The answer is actually: people believe what they want whether you’re telling the truth or not, but that’s for a different entry.) I’m also the kind of person who will tell an almost-truth: something that is plausible, realistic, and may even be true for someone else, but is still a lie coming from me. Those, I have found, are the worst kind because they lay the foundation for some of the more outrageous lies to which I’ve been privy.

I’d like to live in a world where I could swear off all lying forever and actually being to keep that promise, but I can’t. The world’s not like that. Scientists have found that regular people lie twice a day on average. Let me repeat: regular people lie twice a day on average. That means usually “little white lies” to keep the peace or keep some fragile ego intact. In fact, lying is often masquerading as “polite society” and “etiquette” and “good manners”… which is bullshit. Anyway, it’s not like I have it as easy an alcoholic or someone addicted to tobacco*—at least they have the option of never picking up a drink or cigarette again, however difficult that may be. No, the problem I have is more like the one people who are obese have. It’s not like you can just stop eating and everything is fixed; no, you have to regulate yourself. If you don’t eat, you’ll die, simple as that. I’m not saying I’ll die if I don’t lie, but it’s not like people want to be around someone who is brutally honest 100% of the time. They say they wouldn’t mind it, maybe, but that’s only until I offend them by not thinking about their own sensibilities.

I just lose myself to the words: a cruel, cruel mistress.

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* Alcoholism and addiction are serious problems; I’m not saying alcoholics and addicts have it easy… they don’t.