After the Fact: Liar, liar, pants on fire

Telling lies used to be cause for some pretty serious punishment. There was a fine line between the cute little stories made up by a very young child and the fabrications spun as you got older, mostly with intention of avoiding the punishment that was doubled because you didn’t tell the truth in the first place. “Micki did it” only worked some of the time and absolutely never after Micki got old enough to stand in her own defense. But, by then, “Lonny did it” worked pretty well because it was almost always true, and substantiated by the aforementioned Micki.

The problem with telling a lie is that you have to remember, chapter and verse, what you said the first time. If you danced in your ballet school’s annual recital and have pictures to prove it, you may convince your grandchildren that you were Prima Ballerina with the Bolshoi Ballet. Until they get old enough to know that you are neither Russian nor can you walk down a sidewalk without falling over the cracks. At one time, I did entertain the notion of dancing professionally. Then I found out how painful it was to get across the room “en pointe,” wearing a pair of toe shoes. At least, I didn’t fall on my tutu.  Micki entertained thoughts, too. But mostly, she entertained the rest of us in ballet class when the teacher had to continually ask, “Micki, are you going to dance today?” as Micki gazed out the windows at passing clouds. Or no clouds. 

But back to lying. Or not lying. “I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” is only true nowadays if whoever is swearing thinks there’s no chance they’ll get caught lying. It seems to be one of those prerequisites for becoming a career politician. Some people, as my dad used to comment, will tell a lie when the truth would suit better. There’s a reason lie detector tests results are not “admissible” in court.  Some people are inordinately good at lying, others are simply scared spitless for no reason whatsoever. A good poker player is probably more reliable at knowing when someone is bluffing.

Along lines of lying, getting something for nothing used to be called “stealing.” Now, it’s known as advertising. Buy one, get one free. There are instances when the “something” is a paycheck for the “nothing” that’s pawned off as “work.” And then there’s what some people believe is owed to them by a nebulous agency funded by other people’s taxes.  Unlike Medicare and Social Security which were paid in advance by the seniors of today, some social programs were designed to give a “helping hand” but have evolved into the great “gimme” of government. It’s a hotly contested issue with merit on all sides and I stand firmly in the middle. When I can maintain my balance long enough to stand firmly anywhere.

As we get older, we’re more aware of balance. Even if bones weren’t more fragile, the rest of some really good parts of us will ache for days after a slip or fall. Where some will look around to see who observed a fall in the parking lot at Walmart to bolster a lawsuit, seniors are more inclined to hope nobody saw them, feathers over applecart where there wasn’t even any ice. And then there are other people who think we should maintain balance. My bank isn’t sure how I’ve ever arrived at the figures I have for my accounts but (and I’m relatively sure of this) they aren’t sure their balances are any better. And let’s not even discuss balancing my diet: chocolate cake with ice cream is a healthy breakfast. Add a banana if you want real balance.

If I really understood balance, my thoughts wouldn’t wander from one point to another with no discernable fulcrum and with equal weight playing on both sides of an idea. I’m just happy the whole thing doesn’t dump me off on my tutu.