I’m with Dr. House. I believe that everyone lies. And I’m good at telling when people are lying. I can look at them and read their behavior, consider their possible motives for lying and consider what’s at stake, and I don’t even have to try. It’s just a knack I have. I’m not a hundred percent, but better than most. Funny thing is, is that I never call people out on it. I just keeping saying, “Oh, ok,” to the person and trying to make this chair called Everyone Lies comfortable since I’ll be sitting here for a while.
When I was nine, a Jamaican classmate named O’neill told me that he had the Ninja Turtles Sewer System and all the cool action figures to go inside it, but he lost it when he was flying back to the United States from a vacation in Jamaica. As his story went, he opened the airplane window and carefully placed the game on top of a cloud.
“That cloud right there actually,” he said, pointing outside the window to a cloud high up in the sky.
“Wow,” I said, not believing him, and not telling him I didn’t believe him. Does that make me a liar too for pretending to have believed him?
When I was ten, a Brazilian classmate named Michael told me that one night, he and some family members were watching Rescue 911. Suddenly, his father and uncle began fighting, but you couldn’t see their bodies, only their heads and hands, and instead of hands, they wore white gloves. White fucking gloves! Their bodies seemed to invisibly battle against one another.
I don’t think any of the classmates he told this story to believed him – at least no one voiced that they did. On the other hand, no one exactly voiced that they didn’t either. But that story, wow – total bullshit. Even for a ten year old.
But as we get older, our lies become more refined, more believable, more appropriate. We don’t need to lie about anything involving the Ninja Turtles anymore unless you tell your wife you were looking for Ninja Turtle costumes for the kids while you were out sleeping with some other woman. And stories about invisible fights and Rescue 911? I can’t even think of a possible reason why an adult would invent such a story. As we get older, our lies have more purpose, more motive. Our lies have a reason to exist.
When we lie, those lies become our children and we have to begin caring for them, nurturing them, dressing them every morning, remembering that we have them and making excuses for them. They take on personalities of their own; they demand from us, collect from us, tax us and hold us accountable. It’s a shame that so many liars don’t have children; nothing would be different in their lives except for a nice tax write-off.
As I’m thinking about this, I’m opening up a container that’s filled with vegetable egg foo young. I don’t even know what egg foo young is, but I was looking at an online menu without a description, and I’m a vegetarian, so I ordered it. Egg I can eat; foo young doesn’t sound like meat, so I figure I can eat that too. As a vegetarian, ordering from Chinese restaurants is tough shit because when I ordered this, I asked about the vegetable soup on the menu.
“Is it made with vegetable broth or chicken broth?”
“Ahhhh, well, it kasdtohnvkajdfasf.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Ok, nevermind. I don’t need any soup. I’ll just take the vegetable egg foo young.”
No idea what he was talking about with the soup. Even the words I did understand seemed to be in syntax error. I wanted to ask him if the vegetable egg foo young was vegetarian, but I didn’t want a repeat of our confusing soup scenario. Like many food servers across our great land, he might just tell me it is vegetarian because it’s easier than going back and asking the cook if it is, or he figures it might be easier telling me that it isn’t vegetarian rather than dragging the conversation out with someone that has some pain-in-the-ass dietary preference he’s too hungover to deal with. Plus, many food servers probably don’t know about rennet, gelatin or any other ingredient that doesn’t sound animal derived.
“Oh, yes, our cheese ravioli with the lining of a sheep’s stomach packed into it is completely vegetarian.”
I’m going to eat this vegetable egg foo young with my girlfriend. I’m sure my girlfriend lies to me. About what? No idea, but I’m sure she does. And I’ve lied to her, only I can’t think of what I have lied about. Nothing important though. Never about the amount of people I’ve been with, where I was last night, what I think of her in an outfit; that’s always the truth. I love her and would never want to hurt her, so that’s easy.
Same thing with my friends. I’m sure my friends lie to me all the time, and when they do, I don’t think it’s about anything important. The funny thing about lying is that you can make yourself seem like a non-liar by being brutally honest. For example, I have some friends who are brutally honest. Now, all my friends would declare themselves honest whether they are or not, simply because nobody admits to being a liar. But my brutally honest friends are just that, so when they finally decide to come out and say something like, “You look really nice in those pants,” I’ll actually believe them – because they’ve told me in the past that I look like a poor piece of shit for wearing dirty, stained clothes.
But sometimes I lie when people lie to me. I lie about believing them. Tell me some story about you getting laid with more than one girl, or some crazy experience you had and I’ll nod my head and give you all the No Ways! and Holy Shits! you can handle, but I’m lying about believing you. Second to that, I’m also not caring. I’m lying to you about caring about your impressive sexual exploits; I’m lying about being a knuckle-dragging buffoon interested in high-fiving, beer/chip/sport/tits combos and cool rides. I’m lying about being into that shit.
I lied about believing someone when he told me he had sex with a girl that came into my job the day before. When I was working at the tattoo shop in South Florida, some drunk girl came in to get a tattoo on her ankle. Next thing we know, she’s showing us the tattoo above her vagina, but pulling her shorts down much lower than she needs to in order to showcase her artwork. As things seem to work out, the knuckle-dragger with the lowest standards will end up being the one to ask her if she wants a drink.
Lowest-standard knuckle-dragger? Step right up!
She says yes. They have drinks. That’s all we see. The next day he says they did it. And they did it: All. Night. Long. A month later, he comes into the shop and says, “Life sucks. I haven’t gotten laid in six months.”
The four of us sitting outside immediately acknowledge the lie, but only one person calls him out on it. Naturally, like most liars, he stumbles on his words, tries to back up, tries to explain the confusion, but everyone knows he lied about getting laid. No one was impressed when he said it and some believed him and no one would care if he didn’t get laid in the first place. No one cares either way, but people will care when they find out you’re a liar – and lose respect for you when they find out that you’re not just a liar, but a bad liar at that.
What do I lie about? I don’t even know. How funny is that.
Back to the Chinese food: I went to pick up the Chinese food earlier right before lunch time. Same typical Chinese restaurant that has walk-in seating with no walk-in sitters. In the back is a bar counter with a cash register sitting on top of the counter next to a pile of menus. Behind that is the guy who barely speaks English, who says something about an order and since I made one, I just say, “Yes, please!” and go along with it. Above him, a picture menu containing all the food choices I never order.
I ordered the Chinese food because my girlfriend is sick and that’s what she’s craving. They think she has bronchitis. It’s nice that when a person is sick, you can always say “they” when referring to the doctors. So, the doctors ran their tests and say, “You probably have bronchitis” and apparently, a side-effect of her medication is that she craves the Chinese food that she is never interested in. So, I order it, pick it up, bring it home, sit down and open it up.
Immediately, I think these motherfuckers are lying to me, and believe me, it hurts to call them motherfuckers, because they were actually pretty friendly, but it’s so easy to call them motherfuckers when I think they are lying to me. There are way too many ingredients stuffed into this plastic take-out bowl to not have a single animal ingredient, at least coming from a restaurant. Normally, I would have made something at home, something very healthy, very nutritious. But now we have a dilemma and I suspect some motherfucker is lying to me. And if it isn’t these Chinese restaurant workers, it’s the motherfuckers who sold them the ingredients to make this food.
See, chances are good that there is a ton of monosodium glutamate (msg), sugar and corn syrup stuffed all into this thing like bros at a club. I’ve read enough documentation, Wikipedia articles and have seen enough documentaries to easily forget exactly why this stuff is so bad for me. I suppose the important thing is not that I remember why it’s so bad for me, just so long as I remember that it is. I’d like to remember why, but my memory isn’t allowing for so much at this time. So now, staring at this bowl of food and miscellaneous ingredients in front of me, I’m angry, and I can’t tell anyone because I have no idea why. I just know that I should be really pissed.
And how can I complain? I paid the guy for this. I paid for this mystery.
“Go ahead and lie to me. I’ll give you some money and you give me some shit that resembles food. Just lie to me about what’s really in it. Tell me it’s vegetarian even if there’s some chicken stock, beef powder or shrimp sauce thrown in there. Or maybe you didn’t clean the wok from the last time you used it when you were cooking the Kung Pao chicken I ordered for my girlfriend.”
No use. This is where lies become refined and textured. The Chinese guy could have pointed to a cloud in the sky outside the window and told me his Ninja Turtle Sewer System was on top, floating above us, but I wouldn’t have believed him and it wouldn’t have benefited him. Instead, in our older and more “reasonable” age, he may have lied to me, given the opportunity, about the food he’s given me, because it benefits him and his restaurant, and figures the harm to me is quite minimal.
And I can’t get mad, because he’s just doing what he does. He’s human; he lies. People lie all the time. They lie on their resumes and at job interviews. They embellish; is that a lie? A grey lie? People lie and act interested in your boring conversation about your boring life to get laid. Sometimes, they’re so good at lying about it that they’ll fool themselves into believing that your twenty minute story about how you fought to become a shift manager at a department store is really interesting for them to subconsciously drop their jaw in utter disbelief. They didn’t drop their jaw because they actually think it’s cool that you worked every Saturday for three months straight; their brains were just subconsciously told to lie with words and body language. So there you have it, mouth breather is going to get laid. And what does it matter? Shift manager was probably lying too, trying to get laid by mouth breather.
I always wished there was a pack of humans roaming the earth, a nomadic tribe of non-liars and truth-tellers. Not the kind of self-proclaimed “truth-tellers” who will say, “You’re a fat nasty bitch,” and then when you call them out they say, “Oh, whatever, I’m just tellin’ you like it is. I tell the truth.” I mean the real truth; just wholesome honesty without exploitation or people taking advantage of other people. But I can’t expect that. The truth is, if I’m telling you the truth right now, is that no such pack exists. They might think they do, with a possible religious or political pretext to support them even, but that’s probably bullshit too. It makes me want to spit on the earth and call everyone a liar, but I’m a liar too, so I just have to accept it and deal with it.
They say if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, but in this case, I think it would be more appropriate to say, if you can’t beat ‘em, admit you’re one of ‘em.