I am not a liar. I do not possess the skills to misrepresent myself. My mind would betray me in a moment if I tried to weave a web of deceit. Lying is not familiar to me, and it is not a skill I bothered to perfect, but HAVE I lied? Perhaps we all have, a little, to avoid the unpleasant conversations that are sure to follow the question, "How are you?" with anything less than the quick answer of "Fine."
When I was a youngster, I was sneaky. If Mom greeted us after school with her chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen and said, "Only take two cookies," I would take three. Or four. Or some other number, much higher, that I would prefer not to disclose, but if you pressed me, and I knew the exact amount, I would tell you. Later, when Mom would notice the huge dent put into the dozens of cookies she baked for her eight children, she would ask who had taken so many cookies.
"I did. I was hungry, and they were so good," I would volunteer. I did not feel guilty about eating when I was hungry. I did hope somehow that my compliment would distract her investigation. I may be a thief, but I couldn't lie about it.
When I cheated on a science test in seventh grade, Ms. Powell pulled me out of health class to discuss the matter with me in the hallway. She asked me point-blank if I knew about the cheating that took place when she left the classroom during a test. In no time at all, I expressed my guilt, and my apology. I did not throw anyone else under the bus by name. She knew. All of our answers were identical. I was so humiliated; I never cheated on a test again. Ever.
So, we've established that I have some experience as a thief and a cheat, but not a liar. But is that the honest truth? Maybe not.
"How are you?" you might ask me. My response would be one word, fine, even if I felt sore or angry or miserable or sad. It's just not worth the effort to have some conversations. There are friends who ask, and truly want to know, but seriously, if you and I are scurrying down a crowded hallway, and you toss out a friendly, "How are ya?", you and I both know that neither of us is hoping that I'll offer more than a one or two word answer, and a positive response, at that.
We all have those friends who do not understand this social courtesy, and when asked, offer every single detail of their latest medical history. Don't we all wish they would just lie, and tell us they are as "fine as frog hairs?"
So, ask me, if you like, how I am. I will spare you all of the qualifiers. "I'm fine...except for my arthritic wrists, and my aching back, and my swollen ankles, and my aching head, and my broken heart." It's easier, really, to just tell you that I am fine.
Those in the inner sanctum of my circle of friends know that the only time the truth of my physical and emotional status emerges is when we are both seated, and the world around us is still, and I am asked, "How are you doing? Really?" Brace yourself. I won't lie to you, and you know it, or you wouldn't have bothered to add the "really."