A LIFE OF LIES
I was eight the first time I lied.
Sure there were times before that I had been reprimanded. Waiting at home after school as my mother made dinner, waiting for my father to arrive. When my father arrived, and he always seemed to arrive late on those days when punishment was to be meted out like waiting was half the punishment, when he did arrive he went immediately into his room and changed the white shirt and grey pants that he wore to work, he changed them for jeans and a T- Shirt. If my sister or I had done something bad that day, my mother would go into the room with him, while he was changing. Then if it was really bad, my mother would leave, and we would be called. He would give a few swings of the belt and then he would loop his belt into his relax fit, blue jeans and that was that.
I never did anything really bad. I got spanked for pushing my sister when she would not get off the swing, or for breaking the top off the coke bottle when it did not open, or throwing a pillow at the TV set which broke my mother’s vase which she had gotten after her graduation from high school. (Come to think of it, I cannot quite think of a time when my sister was called into the room. Seems like I was always the one called. And it wasn’t like she didn’t do a lot of bad things, she did.)
Those were all bad things that happened in my life up to that time. They were things I really had no control over. My father would explain afterwards, as we watched a soccer match on TV, “I know that your sister took the last of the chocolates. And I know that your mother was saving it for you after school. But that doesn’t mean that you should go and take the head off of her doll.“
We were both watching the game as Espinosa missed an almost sure header off his shoulder. “I just wanted to make it so she felt what I felt when I had been waiting all day for that chocolate.”
“I can’t explain to you all these things. No.., I know you meant to get even with your sister. But you just can‘t do that to her dolls. We can always get another chocolate. But we can‘t just go out and get another doll.”
I suppose the things I did were plenty bad plenty, but lying, that was something completely much badder. Lying as our local priest used to explain it, was bad because it made it so that you couldn’t trust anything. “It is the little lies,” he used to say, “the little lies are the worst of all. “If you lie about say, whether you had read a book or done an assignment, well, then when you got that much older it would just be that much easier to lie about whether you stole from the grocer to feed your family or siphoned gas to keep your taxi cab going.” Father Romero was a wiry man with a tight collar which was taught against his age loosed neck, sometimes he would push the loose skin below the collar, especially when he was excited, Father Romero would come in once a week to talk to our class about catechism. Often he would get onto something, something that really bothered him and we would all watch in amazement and fear. “When you lie, there isn’t anything that you can trust. The simplest things become hard. People are made up of ninety five percent water. Well I am here to say that most of what we do, ninety five percent is just words. You lie and you are ninety five percent nothing.”