Fair is fair. So many of you have revealed the most intimate details of your childhood, that I owe you the same. Besides, by entering the contest, I stand a good chance of winning the trophy myself (I sleep with the judge). Mickey looks great in HQ, and I could use a couple of rolls of quarters.
Here ya go:
A Norman Rockwell New England
by Thorn Sully
I don’t even remember what it was that I said.
But I remember my mother saying, “That’s a lie.”
It struck me as odd, at the time, because it was not a lie. Only when I got older did I understand the nuances of lying, who to lie to, and under what circumstances. Leonard Cohen sings “I smile, when I’m angry. I cheat, and I lie. I do what I have to do…to get by. But I know what is wrong. And I know what is right. And I’d die for the truth, in my secret life.”
But for a nine year old, an apprentice of virtues that were absolute, black or white, I knew that to lie is wrong, and it was something I would never do. I knew this to be unshakeable. So why didn’t my mother see that?
I did not realize it at the time, but she was waiting for a confession. None was forth-coming. I had not lied, so why should I confess?
There are many cold New Englanders congregated on the East Coast, and I think collectively they chill the air, and blame it on the weather. The air in my Connecticut home was chilled for several days while my mother waited for me to confess…
In a completely separate incident, days later, an independent conversation, again one that I can’t recall, my mother concluded that I had once again lied. “That’s a lie. Tell the truth.”
“No, it’s not a lie. I am always truthful.” I was proud of the fact.
“I don’t believe you. You lie.”
“Well, if every time I speak, you say I am lying, I just won’t talk to you.”
“Fine,” she said. She was sure I would cave in.
But I did not cave in. A full two weeks had passed, and I had not said a word to her. It got easier as time went by. I had huevos and integrity.
Finally, my father interceded, when he was still God. “You know, you’ve got to start talking to you mother.”
“But she said I lied to her, and I didn’t.”
“I know. But you’ve got to start talking to her.”
She was in the basement, doing laundry.
She was still taller than I was back then. She looked down on me.
“Dad says I should start talking to you.”
“Before you say anything, you need to admit that you had lied to me.” Everyone envied me, because my mother was so beautiful. A Hollywood starlet who sacrificed a budding career to marry a war hero, to bare his children and do the laundry.
I had put needing her on hold for two weeks. I was fasting. And now I started to realize just how much I hungered for her. On the edge of tears, and tears can be very slippery indeed. I fell into her and just started sobbing. She had her arms stiffly around my shoulders, not really holding me. She was waiting.
When I had absolutely nothing left, I stood back, and the shirt between her breasts was soaking wet with tears, the clear blood of my soul.
“I lied to you. And I’m sorry.”
That was the first time I ever lied. It’s gotten easier, since then.