By Jack A. Urquhart ©2012 (700 words)
Pity parties are never fun. After all, there’s really nothing to celebrate, and who wants to be invited. Nevertheless, I’ll admit I’ve been whooping it up lately, mostly in private but not always, beating myself up for the many ‘sins’ that underpin my failures and shortcomings.
If I were still a religious person, the obedient Baptist boy I was raised to be, I’d prostrate myself before ‘the Lord,’ confess everything (or as much as I can remember), and go begging after forgiveness. But I don’t go down on my knees like that anymore—except for more earthly, utilitarian pleasures…like gardening, scrubbing the floor, the rowing machine at the gym (and shame on you for thinking anything else!).
Fact is, I’ve had my fill of celestial sacrifice and salvation mythology. Besides, if God is out there, I figure She already knows my scorecard backwards and forwards and has better things to do than pay attention to my groveling.
That said, there’s much to recommend a good purge now and then, for admitting the worst of oneself in the service of lessening (if only temporarily) the heavy burden of disappointment and regret accumulated across the years. And since it appears I’m overdue for divestiture, why not take advantage of this forum (it’s so much cheaper than a shrink)?
So, to get to it, what follows are three of the many varieties of lies that I’ve told accompanied by an unadorned, un-explicated example of each. Whether the samples be whoppers or little white whippersnappers (I’ve plenty of both in my trunk) is not for me to say. All I know is that I’ve been toting them long enough that attempting to shake them here doesn’t seem a bad idea.
Feel free to comment and to share your own fibs and fabrications if you think it might lighten your load. Or not.
- Lies of Wishful Thinking. At nineteen, I told my best friend I was ready to marry her and to be a good father to her child by another man. I did neither. Instead, come the day of scheduled cohabitation, I drove out to purchase gas for the moving vehicle and never returned. That lie cost me one of the truest friends I’ve ever known. Deservedly. Oh, wishful thinking—how many hearts have been broken in your name!
- Lies of Good Intention. When my children were tykes, I told them they were the most beautiful beings in the world, and that great things were in store for them—careers, acclaim, an easier time than dear old Dad ever had. That was a series of lies, you’ll say. True. And how disappointing for them to find out first hand what a struggle being alive really is. Parenthood! Maybe they should issue licenses? Good intentions aren’t enough.
- Lies of Cowardice. Years ago, when I was a banker, it fell to me to fire another employee. The decision to terminate, made by the board of directors, was ostensibly because of a small bookkeeping error made during the employee’s first week on the job. We’re talking a loss to the bank of less than a hundred dollars—chump change even in those days. But that was a lie, and I knew it.
The real reason was that the poor Schmo had passed the afternoon of his first day on the job with his fly open, a situation that caused him no end of mortification once a co-worker found the courage to speak up. No big deal you’ll say, just an unfortunate case of nerves and forgetfulness—the sort of mishap that could befall any guy desperate to make good in a new position. And you’d be right. The guy was no pervert.
Nevertheless, I followed through on the board’s instructions, repeating to the employee (with as much conviction as I could muster) the false reason for his termination. The poor guy cried. So did I; because I felt bad for him. But mainly because I was ashamed of having supported an egregious falsehood. Don’t know if there’s a connection, but ‘executive’ is a role I’ve never since pursued.
So there. Three lies out of millions (and yes–I know the categories overlap). But do I feel better for having confessed?
Ask me later.