Everybody Lies . . .
The world is full of stories, big and small. 1968--the year I was born--was a year of big stories, stories that rocked the world, changed the country, marked lives and ended some. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy died, 16,869 Americans died in Vietnam, the Democratic convention saw riots in the streets between the police and protestors, campuses erupted with violence and seemingly everything in the world was about 'relevance.'
Relevance is defined as pertinence to the matter at hand, or being applicable to social issues, whatever that means. In the 60s it had a higher and more profound meaning, one that took root in modern culture and gave the word an incredible power. Relevance was good; it lent a project or product stature and a certain protection from serious scrutiny. Music was relevant when it spoke about the war or human rights, like the Rascal's 'People Got to Be Free.' Movies like the unlikely Bonnie & Clyde were relevant because they somehow depicted the doomed attempt of Youth to make war with the Establishment--money-grubbers and inevitable inventors of the War Machine--who treated young people like cannon fodder.
To be relevant was almost a necessity, a mandate. Irrelevance was more than just something to be dismissed; it was something to be despised.
Up until now my life had been a series of small stories, and some years no stories at all, filled with the mundane, rife with irrelevance.
In December of the year I was born, when I was eight months old, three men rode a rocket to the moon and photographed the earth from an entirely new vantage point. It was one of the most famous images of all time, and my mother took that big blue and green globe from the cover of Life Magazine, framed it and hung it over my crib. The world in that photo was huge and beautiful, but it was also separate and somehow lonely.
One of the first things I ever focused on was that image of the earth, that icon of the Inevitable and map of the Possible.
Nearly 40 years after watching that world come into focus overhead, I realized there was no big story of my life. Four decades had affording nothing much worth mentioning.
So I guess I decided I needed to write one of my own.
And writing was all I really had time to do at the time, tied by necessity to my mother's deathbed and linked to the outside world mostly through my internet connection, the most frequent recipient of my intimacy the computer mouse receiving the devoted caress of my manicured fingers.
My forte was creative writing, despite my background in communications and public relations and my employment producing newsletters and news releases. When I started to re-write my reality, it was impossible not to stretch the truth a tad.
Prevarication, exaggeration, evasion, misrepresentation.
"That dress looks great on you."
"I love your new haircut."
"My son is sick, and I can't get a sitter."
"Yes, baby, of course I came."
You grow up being told at first that it's wrong to lie, it's a sin and Jesus wouldn't do it and God won't like it, not to mention Santa and his terrifying 'Lookout Man.' In black and white reruns you see how funny Beaver Cleaver and Lucy Ricardo were when they did it, and how their little lies turned into whoppers and always landed them in Terrible Trouble. Soon enough you learn your parents occasionally do it but they mean well when they do.
Avoiding social ineptitude requires the art of tactful lying. And I was always as tactful as I was honest.
Being both is a particularly precarious balancing act.
Growing up I never lied when it might really matter. And, of course, I never bore false witness or wrote down a lie. The very act of putting a falsehood on paper somehow magnified it tenfold. It was hard for me to imagine that anyone but the most criminal or venial of people could do so. And yet it happened all the time.
On resumes, on tax returns, even in the Voter's Pamphlet.
People make up a lot of shit these days. And thanks to the wondrous technology of the World Wide Web, they have lots of new places to do it.
Like in their blogs.
The little lies in my blog turned into the Big Lie of my life.
And it took the shape of my fictitious younger brother, Jess.
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