I don’t trust anyone that doesn’t at least admit to lying. I was talking to a friend at one point (younger than 13, older than 6) and she told me the average person lies, I think she said 12 times a year. It was clearly a low and false statistic. I’ve heard much more recently that the average person lies 3 times per sentence. So somewhere in the middle. But since I assume this includes lies of omission, false complements, agreeing with false statements, and anything else we say to make ourselves feel better about the fact that we are lying, it seems much more realistic.
My friend didn’t think her statistic was accurate. After telling me, she asks, “That can’t be right, right?” I told her I didn’t think it was accurate either. She nods and continues, “I thought not. It’s way too high! I don’t think I’ve lied once this year!”
Liar, I think. You are actually lying to me about lying. I mean, we all know. It isn’t some big secret. And it’s not just you. But then I began to think about it. Maybe I was a person than her. Maybe she lies four times a year. I tried mentally counting my lies. It couldn’t be done. Maybe it’s the names we give lies. So I ask, “What about white lies?”
“White lies are still lies, Leila.” She tells me. “How many times a year do you think you lie?”
It had never occurred to me that someone would ask. I didn’t have a tally. I didn’t write in my notebook the lies I told that day. Today I agreed with my mom when she assumed I went over my spelling lesson, even though I hadn’t. I told my sister my dad ate the last cookie. But it was me. Dear diary, my lies are super boring. “Four. Four times.” I told her. “Wow Leila, you tell four years a year?” “Yeah,” I say, “I know, I need to work on that.”
But it had me thinking, what is lying, and what isn’t? I looked at it like a lawyer. What if you’re talking to someone and they know you’re not telling the truth? Is that just joking? What if you’re just, “telling a story”? I thought it was okay, like sarcasm. That’s just the kind of low brow comedy I rely on in life. There are examples of this that are practically family legend. Things my mom tells new friends, things we repeat as inside jokes. The most well known of these is one I don’t remember. This is the way my mom tells it, basically as a “this is the difference between my two children” story:
I’m two and my sister is five. The two of us sit in the back seat of my mother’s car, and mom’s driving. Mom tells us, “I wouldn’t trade my two girls for anything.” I take my finger out of my month and reply dryly, “I’d trade you for a puppy dog.”
My sister looses it. “Leila!” she cries, “Would a puppy dog change your diaper?! Would a puppy dog read you bedtime stories?!” I say nothing. Just grin around the finger I put put back in my mouth. She made excellent points, but it didn’t matter. I wouldn’t trade mom for a puppy dog. Even if I could make the trade. I love my mother, and just as importantly, I’m allergic to dogs.