I remember vividly when I first discovered lying. I must have been about 3 or 4 years old. I was prone to stomach pains, even back then. While I don’t remember the exact context surrounding the grand revelation, I remember the excitement when my brain finally connected the dots.

I could just say I have a tummy ache, I realized, shock coursing through me. There’s no way for my parents to check if I really do have one.

What a world of possibilities, when you can say things that aren’t true. From that day, a liar was born. Kind of. Luckily, this news actually came at the same time I was consuming a healthy diet of 90s family sitcoms. Through observation, I learned on the surface level that if you get caught lying, you could be branded a liar.

Suddenly, The Boy Who Cried Wolf made a lot more sense. Up until then, I’d assumed the wolves had been there every time the boy reported them, but that they’d cleared out before the townspeople arrived to help. Until one day the people didn’t come and the wolves attacked. Unfortunate circumstances, I thought. A cautionary tale about playing near wolves. Now I realized the moral of the story was not to lie about silly, verifiable things that people could obviously disprove. If people thought you were a liar, they wouldn’t like you anymore and then you’d die.

I still had a lot to learn about lying. The nuances about what lying actually was, as opposed to something like an exaggeration were harder to grasp. When my cousin told me Posh Spice had never worn pants in her whole life while alternatively, Sporty Spice had never worn a dress, I took it as absolute fact. Imagine my surprise when I discovered pictures in an old magazine that proved my cousin to be a bloody liar.

In all honesty, I was never a huge liar, mostly out of intense fear of getting caught in the act. But throughout the years, there were some particular instances where lying just made sense.

In elementary school, I discovered lying could actually be quite useful to get out of trouble. Never a fan of homework or deadlines, telling the teacher I’d forgotten my notebook at home bought me extra time. This kind of lying felt victimless, in that, I wasn’t becoming a victim of a scolding. Teachers always believed me too, year after year, so much forgotten homework completed but unfortunately left at home.

In high school, my lying evolved more into lying by omission. I didn’t tell my parents Chloe’s uncle bought us liquor for her 17th birthday party. I didn’t tell them about skipping classes to go to the movies. I didn’t tell them about inviting people over when they were out of town.

By the time I’d hit university, I’d grown quite accustomed to living in a world slightly skewed from the one I presented to my parents. I often told them half-truths and creative embellishments of true events at my discretion. Half the time it was to protect their naive ideas of the world. The rest of the time it was just to avoid further conversation. I never told them that Felix would come over for lunch and a round of Scattergories at 11:00am most mornings, after my dad had left for work. My parents wouldn’t have cared if they knew, but it just felt easier not to mention it.

One night around this time, I finished work, changed in the bathroom and was ready to start the night, at 11:15pm. Restaurant life.

As I walked into the bar, I scanned the Friday night crowd for my friend Qi. Qi had been the first hostess off that night, and she’d been done for a good three hours now. I craned my neck to see if she was seated at the unofficial staff tables at the side of the bar, but I couldn’t see her anywhere.

In my left hand, my pink Sony Ericsson phone began buzzing. My dad. I grimaced.

“Hello?” I answered, walking out to the front foyer of the restaurant where the music wasn’t as loud.

“Lexi. Do you need a ride?”

I rolled my eyes. He was always doing this. “No. I told you. I’m going to Aaron Widge’s house to play board games after my shift.”

“With who?” He asked. It made my skin crawl. He was always asking who I was doing things with now, as if he knew any of my friends were.

The truth was, I didn’t have the best relationship with my dad. Growing up, he worked a lot. At his peak, he was working 4 jobs at once. I mainly just saw him on holidays, despite sharing a residence for all those years. As my parents saved money and bought the big house we lived in now, my dad was able to cut back on his jobs. Now he was comfortably working from 11am-7pm Monday-Friday. Which meant he was home every morning, every night and on weekends. I couldn’t stand it.

“People.” I responded dryly. “I’ll get a ride home.”

“Which people?”

“I don’t know. Aaron, Felix, Qi-“

“Qi’s here watching TV with Michael,” my dad told me. Qi was seeing my brother at the time. I hadn’t realized she’d left the restaurant when her shift was over. I thought she’d be waiting for me.

“Oh,” I replied, slightly embarrassed. “I’ll text her and let her know I’m off.”

After I got off the phone with my dad, I waited around for Felix to finish his shift and helped him with his closing duties. When he was finally done, we went to sit in the bar, and Qi still hadn’t returned. I was just taking my first sip of my forbidden fruit martini when my phone rang again. It was my dad. Again.


“Are you at Aaron’s yet?” He asked.

What did it matter to him!? I rolled my eyes and replied, “not yet. We’re eating and waiting for a few more people.”

“Qi’s still here,” my dad informed me.

I snapped into the defensive mode. “Well I’m not lying, she said she was coming.”

“I didn’t think you were lying,” my dad replied slowly, sounding hurt. I blinked in surprise. “I just meant, why hasn’t she left to meet you yet if she knows you were done at 11?”

“Oh, I don’t know. We’re still waiting on more people to finish working too.”

I hung up, and we ordered appetizers at the bar. I couldn’t stop thinking about what my dad had said. I didn’t think you were lying. The words had actually surprised me. I wasn’t sure why.

I didn’t think you were lying. I heard my dad’s words again as I drank beers at Aaron’s. I guess it was just that throughout all those interpretations of the truth, I hadn’t realized that my parents believed everything I said and totally trusted me. I’d never really thought about it. Objectively, it made sense, really. They were never strict parents. They didn’t have hard and fast rules. I guess I’d always interpreted that parental approach as disinterest. Apathy. I’d never stopped to think that the reason I had so much freedom was because my parents actually trusted me.

I didn’t think you were lying. I remembered the words as I stumbled out of Aaron’s house that night into Felix’s car. It felt good that they didn’t think I was lying. I didn’t want them to think I was a liar. Or to find out.

Something fundamental in our relationship changed that day, and in my approach to truth telling as a whole. I realized that my parents saw me more like equals than I’d imagined. Some of my unfounded anger toward them subsided. They respected me, and I should respect them too. I should tell them the truth because that’s what they expected of me. I owed it to them to be honest.

Another grand revelation. Nearly 17 years after first stumbling upon the concept of lying, I realized the importance of actively not lying. The key isn’t to not get caught lying, to not get branded a liar. The key is to preserve the truth, to not be a liar. There’s a freedom in truth telling and trust building that outweighs most positives lying can offer.

And that’s the truth.



13 thoughts on “The Truth

  1. We are, socialized, by the interactions with our, external, environments, that sometimes, lying keeps us from, being, punished, and we do it, more and more, because, we don’t want to be, punished for something, but, as we get older, we realize, that if and when we lied, sure, short-term, it’d, benefitted us, but, for the long run, it does more harm than, good, then, we stop, lying, because, we come to understand, that there are, the, dire consequences of our lies that won’t just, affect ourselves, but, those around us as well.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Excellent piece. Is lying by omission really lying? Society would probably say ‘yes’, but, in truth, one hasn’t actually told a ‘mis-truth’, and actually, if one seeks to avoid hurting the feelings of others, is a useful tool. All depends on circumstances – I’m certainly not advocating we all go down the route of politicians!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I lied a lot as a small child, mostly to avoid being hit (violence is a great deterrent to the truth), but as an adult, I rarely lie, only to save someone’s feelings, what I guess is called a white lie:-)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, pretty ironic. They were assuming the best of you, and you were assuming the worst of them. Looks like you learned something else about lying. It makes you more suspicious or cynical about others, but if you’re honest, you tend to give others the benefit of the doubt.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoyed the depth of the analysis here, thank you. I’m also impressed you remembered instances of lying (or not) all the way back to your childhood. I’d be able to write a similar piece myself, only because I developed such a conscience about being honest (kudos to my parents). “I didn’t think you were lying”, especially with the context you shared, is a more powerful statement than most of us realize.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a fantastic story. Building up the lying background all the way up from childhood and then the “I didn’t think you were lying” bucket of cold water. I don’t think a moralistic “you should not lie” will ever put anyone off lying. But I am sure a story like this can.


  7. Loved the one about your abuelitos. And this one as well. Tremendous good read. Thanks for opening up like this. It’s educational, indeed. And all in good taste. Love these kinds of stories. Bless you. Xo


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