Yes. I admit it. I know it’s an ignominious thing, but I am a liar. I told my first lie before I knew what it was and that one little fib grew into a storm of lies. We all know that one lie leads to another, blah, blah, blah and fairly soon the lie spider has you tangled in his web. and only learned later that we find how for the rest of our lives, we will be haunted with the family moniker, “you big fat liar.” Now, I once asked my dear mama… My mama is so sweet. Why, she is sweeter than an oven fresh cinnamon roll. I asked my mama, once, “Mama, where can I find out more about lying?”
And she replied with her usual sagaciousness, “Why, Jimmy dearest. It’s right there in the Good Book. Mama’s eyes glow when she mentions the Good Book. As a matter of fact, I always figured she got most of her sweetness from the Catholic Sisters who trained her in the intricacies of the Good Book.
You see, I was never able to find out about lying in the Good Book. The Good Book is full of all sorts of wonderment. There are tales about a flood, a multi colored coat, a horn that makes concrete walls crumble, and about a nice lady who told God she would have his baby. My Sunday school teacher, once told me that the Good Book has so many words in it to hide the good stuff from the bad people. I figured pretty early on that I was a bad person, because I never could find the stuff about lying. When I open the Good Book to the front, I read a fantastical story about a woman named Eve. She allows this beautiful snake that is standing upright on its tail to convince her that Eve can know everything if Eve eats an apple. Well, I know the story can’t be true because I never knew a woman who didn’t already know everything. When I open the good book to the back, God’s holiest apostle, John, is revelayting a dream that describes how God is going to destroy 99% of creation and reward one tenth of one percent of mankind by giving them what is left. I mean what kind of a reward is a half cracked planet weighted down with the sun and numerous stars that have fallen on it?
So, all I really know about lying comes from first hand experience. One time, and this is after I had told my first lie and quite a few more, I am sitting down to breakfast right next to my brother, Millicent. Millicent has ninety or so, freckles per square inch of his body to go along with his red hair and happy disposition. Mama comes into the dining room with a pot of buttery grits and plops two scoops on each plate. While I am reaching beneath my chair to retrieve my spoon which Millicent has knocked off the table, Millicent quickly slurps up both, mine and his grits. As I sit back up, and get ready to scream about my stolen breakfast, Millicent yells, “Mama, mama. Jimmy ate all my grits and his too.” Knowing that a denial will only be seen as another lie, I quietly watch as Millicent gets rewarded with a second helping of grits and half of my eggs and my cinnamon toast. Such is the life of liars. We are doomed to a life of shame.
Here’s how the first lie happened.
I was was seven or eight years old living in three bedroom brick ranch style home with three brothers, Lars, Millicent, and Zintsky and three sisters, Dorma, Betty, and Lagalicious. One afternoon, after school, everyone but me is busy doing homework, chores or watching “Leave It To Be Beaver” reruns. Mama asks if anyone will go down to Cantwell’s fresh market to get the milk jar filled. I volunteer. Mama gives me a nickel and a clean milk jar. I remember her caution as I walk out the door. “That’s our last nickel and it’s just enough to fill the jar.”
On the way to the fresh market, I meet an old man who asks me, “Hey little boy, do you have any belly button ponies?” He has a slight build, a pleasant face, and he’s wearing a jello sweatshirt. The front of the shirt has a parfait cup filled with lime green jello. The back of the shirt has the jello man wearing a half moon smile saying, “Fill your belly with a great big jello smile.” Holding my milk nickel in my pocket, I decide to talk with the strange guy. After all, this neighborhood is filled with friendly people and I figure I will be safe as long as I don’t tell him my name or where I live. Mama hates it when strangers come and try to sell her meat packages or fancy vacuum cleaners.
“No sir,” I reply, “I don’t believe I have any belly button ponies. What are they, anyway?” He pulls up his sweatshirt, exposing a great expanse of black belly hair. Then he reaches a finger into his hairy belly button. Immediately, a minuscule, “Neigh, neigh, neigh” fills the air.
The man proudly displays a tiny pony about the size of a brown tick standing on a finger tip. The pony is white with a black patch across its left eye. It’s busily chewing on a small wad of sweatshirt belly button lint. “Well,” begins the old man, “I would like you to meet one of my finest little ponies, Bendly Dilton. He’s been living in my belly button stable for three years now. Came to me from France.” Bendly begins rearing back and neighing. “Oh, alright, Bendly. I’ll put you back.” As he slowly pokes Bendly back into the nether regions of his belly button he begins calling the other ponies to perch on his finger. Soon three little ponies emerge. He introduces then as Samdin Boolicot, Redmust Popsicle, and Dellis Frouty. “Would you like for me to give you a couple ponies. They are very quiet and clean. Samdin and Dellis would love to go home with you.”
“Where will they live? What will I feed them?”
“Young man, all you need is a belly button and a ready supply of lint hay. Now, how much money do you have. The ponies are free, but I will have to charge you the for the lint hay. Five cents will buy you a weeks worth of sustenance for these two very fine ponies. By now, Samdin and Dellis have packed their pony bags and are standing proudly on the old man’s fingertip. He reaches again into his hairy belly button and pulls out a nickel’s worth of lint hay. I seal the deal by handing over the milk nickel in exchange for the two ponies and a wad lint the size of a Peanut M&M. As I release Samdin and Dellis into my belly button, the old smiles, “Them ponies sure are lucky to have such a fine little belly button stable to habitate.” As the ponies emit a slight neigh of contentment, he continues, “Feed them a pinch apiece two times a day and let them have belly races in the morning.”
Here’s where the lying begins. Mama asks, “Jimmy, did you get the milk?”
“Yes ma’am.” I lie.
“Where is it?”
“I put it in the refrigerator right next to the left over spaghetti,” I lie again.
“I don’t see it. I need a cup for the mashed potatoes.”
“Maybe Lagalicious drank some and forgot to put it back.” Another lie. The storm is brewing.
“Tell Lagalicious, I need that milk right now.” Mama sounds irritated.
“She went over to Bernigans to play pilots and parachuters.” Another lie.
I lost track of how many lies were bound into that web. I know that we had cubed potatoes with our barbecued chicken and that Millicent doesn’t like cubed potatoes.
So this is how I became the family’s Big Fat Liar.