I have been laughing lately at the memes about the lies we tell ourselves. One showed a book titled, “My House is Not That Dirty and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves.” Funny, not funny in my case.
Some of the lies I have told myself have to do with food and eating habits, two of my very favorite topics. A recent fib is, “If I buy this huge water jug with the clever hourly markings and sayings on the side, I will drink all the water I am supposed to in a day.” Not only was it a lie, but now my bladder is talking about leaving home to find different work.
The one day I drank all the water I was supposed to, a work meeting ran a little long, and I was due at school to pick up one impatient 15 year old. I dashed for the car without first considering a visit to the bathroom. Statement of fact: 1-70 during rush hour is no place to desperately need to pee.
I saw a recipe this week that is for sure a lie people are telling themselves: you can take really ripe banana peels, coat them in myriad spices, and fry them to taste like bacon.
Besides the original fallacy that anything would ever rival bacon’s sumptuous flavor, there are few ripe bananas around. I think most folks got used to being forced to eat all the bananas before they became overripe, so they did not have to eat one single more bite of mom’s Covid-19 Homestead Banana Bread.
Three additional favorite dieter’s lies are 1. Fish tastes good (which just requires incredible gullibility to believe), 2. Anything fried in an air fryer is as good as pan fried (which I saw on a commercial I was watching while wiping REAL fried chicken grease from my chin), and 3. No one can tell the difference in skim and 2% milk (except that one looks like murky water and has absolutely no taste).
Still others of my tall tales have to do with my talent and abilities. Lie number one is on display every day in my house, as I apparently once told myself I could mix patterns when decorating. I boldly tossed a striped pillow next to a floral one on my plaid chair. The result is sort of a Coat of Many Colors feel, and while one of my favorite Dolly songs, the mix I have created is not a good look in suburbia.
I have also deceived myself about my ability to bring consensus to family discussions and decision-making. We have resorted to drawing straws or playing Rock, Paper, Scissors to decide even small things like dinner menus far more often than I care to admit.
I have tried everything from having a list of meals to select from, to printing out my Pinterest recipe board, to suggesting only meals whose ingredients can be purchased using that week’s coupons.
“One of you JUST CHOOSE!” I scream when no one wants to decide anything, and my lie about being a consensus builder is exposed. Decisions about college ought to be a lot of fun in this consensus-builderless home.
Other half-truths about my ability can be lumped into living too far in the past. I still peddle fiction about myself about being able to bend down without pulling a muscle, shoot three pointers, apply lotion to all parts of my back without my husband’s help, and remember people’s names.
Another genre of lies has to do with health or appearance. They can be very common ones like, “Next spring I will be able to fit into those pants again” or “Tunic tops and elastic waist pants are not only comfortable but also stylish.”
I have lied to myself over and over about getting in shape. And where did that phrase ‘getting in shape’ even come from? People need to learn their shapes a little better in pre-school. I mean round is a shape, right?
Perhaps the biggest appearance lies have to do with makeup and hair. The cosmetic companies promise us there are lipsticks and eyeliners that will not smudge, but plenty of sweaty menopausal women will attest to clown-like lips and racoon eyes.
A lie that ran rampant during Covid-19 quarantines went like this: “I can go another week without touching up my roots.” What remained in my hair after two missed hair appointments was a color that would best be called River Bottom or maybe Greige. Not pretty. When my stylist finally saw me, she wept with joy. Or maybe despair.
Some lies I tell myself have to do with habits: I can watch just one more episode, eat just one more piece, read just one more page, hit the snooze button only once.
I spout the falsehood, “I don’t need to write that down, I will remember it,” with full confidence, even though as I age this isn’t even a near truth. Today I didn’t even know it was today. Sad.
As a serial shopper, I have lied about my habits. “There is no such thing as too many pairs of black pants or shoes,” I mumble, as I reach for a perfectly cropped pair from the rack.
I am a night owl by nature, and an early riser by necessity. In my 30’s, I was not lying when I told myself, “I can stay up late and still wake up early.” Today, that would be like a Christmas miracle.
Once after supervising my daughter’s slumber party, I fell into a Rip Van Winkle snooze from which ringing phones and shouting family members could not rouse me. I am still tired just writing about it.
Oh, I can ring in the New Year, alright. But then I might miss St. Pats’ day because I am still asleep. And no one wants to miss St. Pat’s Day, because…get ready for the lie…green beer on top of corned beef and cabbage is actually good for the digestion and not at all nauseating.
Finally, there are some whoppers I have told myself that are just so outrageous, each is in a category of its own. For instance, “I can live without chocolate” should maybe be rephrased to say, “ I can live without chocolate on my scrambled eggs” or “ I can live without chocolate for 15 minutes,” both of which are far more accurate.
Perhaps one of my least believable lies is about my aversion to some animals. If you ever hear me say, “I like bats because they eat mosquitos, and I like possum because they eat ticks,” move out of the way before my Pinocchio-like nose hits you. Can’t. Won’t.
On some dusky summer nights, bats fly near our street lights. Not sure if it is my connection to Dark Shadows’ Barnabas Collins that has forever spoiled me on bats, but we had to move the master bedroom to the back side of the house, free of street lights and bats.
The only problem is now our bedroom faces a ravine which narrows into a little trickle of a stream, one that is just the perfect spot for a mama possum and her 637 babies to get a drink and then scamper back across my yard to hang by their tales from a tree I promised to trim earlier, yet another piece of fiction. I would just stay up all night to avoid these nocturnal animals, but we discussed earlier my need for sleep.
I would like to write a book about all these fabrications, as I believe I would have a best seller on my hands with all you perjurers hanging around. I have selected the title, “My Academy Award Speech Will Fit Within the Time Limit and Other Lies I Tell Myself,” soon to be available at counterfeitcopies.com
Cathy is a retired public school English teacher and Public Information Officer.