Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Shame Week #2 :: What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told?

This is tough. Not because I’m some paragon of honesty or anything like that. Although I am. I think it’s probably more my lack of real relationship experience which exempts me from most of the easiest of life’s big lies. For example, I’ve never been unfaithful to anyone. I’ve never said ‘I love you’ and not meant it. I’ve never said, ‘No, your bum looks absolutely fine in that’ when in reality it looks like a pair of colliding planets, not just in that but in anything.

Of course there are the dreary, petty lies that I used to tell at school when I realised that being late was nothing to be scared of; the stuff that was taken from real life but chronologically displaced. Like I had to wait in for the builders. Like I didn’t get to sleep till dawn because my parents were up all night fighting. Like my dad ate my alarm clock. But nothing remarkable. Nothing audacious. Not even a dead grandmother.

Oh, hold on.

I have it.

I was in year ten or eleven, so 14 or 15, I don’t remember which but I think the former. I was still being bullied fairly regularly, but my school life had settled down quite a bit and I had a few friends. Most of the friends I had however, and most of the friends I didn’t, were all growing up much faster than me. They had girlfriends for a start, and they had house parties. And every weekend they went to one another’s house parties and they drank vodka and they smoked dope and they danced to 2 Unlimited and felt each other up. Meanwhile I stayed at home listening to Leonard Cohen and writing poems about not having the courage to even contemplate suicide. At least not seriously. I did a lot of weeping.

It was also around that time that I started to fantasise about having a girlfriend. I really wanted one, you see. I mean, I really, really wanted one. So much so that I used to pretend that I had one. In fact, I used to pretend that it was children’s telly presenter Philippa Forrester. I used to imagine her lying on my bed as I lifted the dumbbells I’d made out of a broken broom handle and some old motor oil canisters filled with soil. I’d talk to her as she gazed up at me in awe. I’d laugh at her jokes and when she told me to put down my dumbbells and come and make love to her, I’d come over all shy. Then I’d gently lower myself onto the sad pillow of her body and I’d kiss it until I fell asleep covered in semen.

I was a sad case for sure, but I’m sure I wasn’t alone. Was I? Of course not.

Then, one day – God only knows what possessed me – I decided to take Philippa out into the real world. She’d have to change her name however. My school friends might not have been the brightest bulbs in the firmament, but even they might have had their suspicions if I’d claimed to have been going out with Philippa Forrester. So Philippa became Emma. My real life girlfriend. Only I didn’t want to have to tell people about Emma; I wanted them to discover her for themselves.

So what I did – and you’re only the second person I’ve ever told this to – what I did was to take hold of something like a square inch of my neck flesh with my thumb and forefinger of my right hand, and squeeze and twist it for all I was worth. It hurt. But no pain, no gain. That’s what they say. So I did it again. And again. And I carried on doing it until there was a mark on my neck, which in the right light, and to a gullible eye, could very easily appear as a passable, genuine love bite.

The next day at school I wore my Spurs scarf (I used to be into that sort of thing I’m afraid) and I affected a slightly self-conscious air, occasionally craning my neck to follow an imaginary crane fly in the hope that someone would notice my mark and jump to the desired conclusion.

‘Oi, Elbows!’ It was Neville Waterworth, low-key tormentor. ‘What the fuck are you wearing a scarf for? It’s the middle of summer.’ I shrugged, blushed, ignored. ‘Fucking ponce,’ he said, more or less good-naturedly. And that was that.

It wasn’t until the beginning of Physics just before lunch, when my neck crept out of my scarf sufficiently for Judith Taylor to notice and remark, ‘Elbows? Have you got a dirty neck?’

The story I concocted was that I’d met Emma one day on the bus to Sidcup. And why not? Well, I’ll tell you why not – because apparently it was utterly ridiculous. I had one particularly vocal unbeliever: Gus Hindmarsh. He gave me the third degree at lunchtime, cornered me in the corridor and wouldn’t let me go, him and a bunch of others from our registration class. Gus led the interrogation:

Gus: So what was the first thing she said to you?

Me: She just said hello. And she asked me if she could sit down next to me…

Gus: What’s her second name?

Me: Pissington-Bladderfuck. [I can’t really remember what I said, but whatever it was, it was repeated back to me by half a dozen incredulous voices as if it were every bit as unlikely as Pissington-Bladderfuck. I was really wishing I had left the girlfriend fantasy in the bedroom.]

Gus: What colour hair has she got?

Me: Just, brown.

Gus: Have you fingered her yet?

Kevin Body: How big are her tits?

‘Oh, leave him alone,’ said Judith Taylor, just as I was saying, ‘Look, I don’t have to tell you anything. I’m not answering questions like that.’

‘Have you watered the plants?’ asked Body, as per some asinine euphemism that was doing the rounds at the time.

‘Have you stained her rug?’ someone else chipped in.

‘Let me have a look at that neck,’ said Gus Hindmarsh, pulling my scarf away. ‘That looks like you’ve been at it with the Hoover.’

‘Oh, don’t be a cock,’ I said, which got a laugh and alleviated the tension for a second.

At which point Judith Taylor declared, ‘Good for you, Stan! Ignore these idiots. They’re probably just jealous.’ Whoops of derision from Gus et al. ‘I think it’s really sweet,’ she said. ‘It just goes to show, there’s someone for everyone,’ she added.

Then off she went to lunch, followed by Gus Hindmarsh, who now that I think about it was quite clearly in love with her. I loved her a bit myself after that day.

And that was that.

The love bite faded, and Emma faded along with it. I wasn’t important enough to face much more mockery about my imaginary girlfriend, so the lie died within a few days. In fact all that remained of Emma was a flash of shame every time I saw a bus to Sidcup. I still saw Philippa for a while afterwards however, and I took some solace form the fact that she really did care for me.

Oh, and whenever the subject of virginity came up for the next ten years, I lied about that too.


And you? What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told? Leave your whoppers in the comments…


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Anonymous said...

I once told a holiday romance (who I am still in contact with now) that I had an older brother called Ben. I am an only child.

Even now I have to deflect questions from Neil about him, and have dropped hints that Ben has done something unspeakable and pissed off the entire family and is basically living in exile. He is "the one of which we do not speak".

I pray to god that I don't ever get married because Neil will be at the wedding and I will have to explain myself. This was 10 years ago by the way. Fucking ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I told myself I'd update my blogs regularly because it would be good writing practice and might encourage me to write something halfway decent ;)

OK, so it's not the biggest lie I've told but I'm not really sure what that would be, and if I was I'd probably find a large closet in which to lock it with all the other skeletons ...

suburbanhen said...

Hmmm. I once told a boyfriend that I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome so as to explain why I would go to bed and just fall asleep without having sex with him.
He believed me.
So much so that he talked to my best friend about his concerns for me.
The truth of the matter is that he was a one night stand that just NEVER WENT HOME and I was too gutless to break up with him. I should have, because instead I pretty much ruined his life with my lies and infedelity.
It's OK, though, karma's getting me back on that front.

Hayley said...

I'm too ashamed to admit what my worst lie is. It's still quite raw... a month ago...

La Bête said...

Triplescience, that's great. Completely pointless lies are always the best. I'd love to know what Ben did by the way. You must have it in your head. Naughty Ben.

Hello, Spaceman. You should blog more often. It'd be good practice.

Hen, that's pretty shameful. Hopefully now that you've made a full and frank public confession, the karma will reverse itself and everything in your world will be clean and pure and good.

Aw, come on, Hayley. Better out than in.

Anonymous said...

i told so many of these - lying about a wild and exotic sex life - when i was 13-15 years old, that i couldn't keep it straight for awhile. lost my virginity - i think - when i was 15, but by then, it wasn't a big deal. even to me...

oh, and i still make out with my pillow. and sometimes pretend i have the current 'object of my affections' in the shower with me in the morning. not just for adolescents, imaginary lovers rock even in your mid-40's!

Newbie said...

When I was about nine I told a friend who lived around the corner that my mum whipped me with a stick after watching too many orphan films (Annie, Oliver etc). This was completely untrue - my mum never laid a hand on me apart from the odd light smack when I was being dreadful.

Unfortunately, this girl told her brother, who told the boy who lived next door to us, who told his mum who had a quiet word with my mum. She then had a serious chat with me about the consequences of telling lies whic could see me taken away from her and my dad.

The shame was immense, but not as bad as when I had to tell all the people in the chain that I had lied about it all.

I still blush thinking about it now.

Newbie said...

After I had watched too many of those films... not that my mum whipped me after watching them...

Sorry, sentences proving problematic today.

Heidi said...

I told my boss at my job that my brother was very sick in the hospital and I must leave immediately. I didn't call in this lie first thing in the morning before work. Oh, no. I got a fake call in the middle of the day so I had to 'rush out' to see my brother in the hospital. I spent the rest of the day at the beach sunning myself.
This was about 11 years ago. I am still ashamed that I did it and I have never told anyone.

Lauren said...

faking orgasm. over and over and over again.

Lauren said...

the worst part is that I can't seem to stop doing it...

La Bête said...

Daisyfae! That’s a wonderful confession. Imaginary lovers in your 40s! That’s fantastic. And I can’t believe you still make out with your pillow. I certainly hold mine to me like it’s my one true love, but I haven’t actually kissed a pillow for years. Wow. Good for you.

Newbie, that’s the shame of your lie making you trip up over your sentences like that. And that really is a doozy.

Heidi, I’m honoured that you’ve broke your silence here. Now say twelve Hail Marys and half a dozen How’s Your Fathers. And ring up your brother and apologise. If you even have a brother. Kuh.

Lauren! I’m genuinely shocked. Is this something you do just when you’re alone or in the presence of others? If it’s the latter, why do you do it? Why? God, that really makes me feel weird. Paranoid I guess. I really want lots more details but I feel it’s not my place to ask. Thanks for confessing. I sentence you to a real orgasm immediately.

Andrea said...

Hmm, don't think I've ever told a really big lie, though I did colaborate with a friend's lie once - that the reason she'd not turned into work was because she'd mugged on the way in and had to go to hospital/police etc when really it was because she'd spent the day in bed with her boyfriend. She got the sack eventually for lying about something else (can't remember what)

Walter said...

Oh Bête, I had an imaginary girlfriend at that age, too!

She wasn't based on any celebrities, nor was any pillow-romancing involved, but I carried the lie on for quite some time. Several of my friends believed that I had a hot girlfriend who snuck into my window at night to escape her abusive father.

She wound up being sent to boarding school in Russia, where it became impossible for us to communicate, let alone carry on a relationship.

The people who knew I was making things up, like my parents, humored me and went along with it so not to hurt my feelings (I guess). Eventually when I realized that, I bashfully came clean with everyone.

Anonymous said...

I once called in sick from the airport one morning. I was caught halfway through my hoarse explanation, when there was a loud announcement for the BA245 flight to Alicante ....

Clare Sudbery said...

I once created an alter ego for myself on an Alabama 3 forum, and when my boyfriend started getting on well with the alter ego, I flirted with him and swapped emailos with him and pretended to be someone else. I even took photos of myself in a graveyard, in disguise.

He didn't guess it was me, but in the end I told him cos it was freaking me out and I was starting to plan meet-ups with him, just to see what would happen.

Personally I thought it was rather good fun, but he thought I was downright bonkers.

"I was in year ten or eleven, so 14 or 15" Eh? Are you Scottish, or American, or some other kind of foreign? Or just really really young? They didn't used to call it year ten when I were a lass.

Anonymous said...

My biggest lie is one I have maintained for more than 8 years, and still continue. I was brought up in a household where marriage is thought to be sacred, as is virginity. I had promised my parents that I would be a virgin by the time I married. And I almost kept that promise.

I did lose my virginity to the guy I married, yet we weren't even engaged at the time. In fact, we'd only just started dating when I realized he was The One. My friends in college were eager to hear details of this boyfriend, but I didn't offer much information. I never told anyone the truth, even a few months after the wedding when someone asked directly, "Were you still a virgin when you got married?"

I don't know if or when I will reveal the truth to my family. I've been happily married 8 years, that's all that's important right now. Yet the lie will always be there. And if we decide to have children, I suspect that the lie will continue to live on.

Clare Sudbery said...

Oh, and I had an imaginary boyfriend when I was about eight, who I told my friend about in great detail and absolutely insisted was real. He was called Richard Kentyon and he lived in Heslington and he had blonde hair and blue eyes, and in the end he left and moved to Sheffield. She never did believe me though. Pah.

And I used to kiss the mirror, cos it kind of felt more real if you could see another face, and it didn't look like yourself cos it would be all up-close and blurry.

Clare Sudbery said...

Got seriously bollocked when 17, and told my parents I was going to a socialist day school when I was actually in Wapping demonstrating against Thatcher and finding myself on the wrong end of a police horse's hooves...

Anonymous said...

Crikey, all these confessions and absolutions make me want to ‘fess up… warning, this is a whopper, a world exclusive and very shameful – but then that’s what it’s all about eh? Here goes…
When I was nineteen I was a bit of a twat and got wasted and slept around lots.. so far so good, I was young you forgive me right? I got pregnant and had an abortion – it wasn’t the best time of my life, I was off my head a lot of the time and had low self esteem. ok no excuses just get on with it… I told the guy who I thought was the father about it after the event – he was a friend who turned out not to give a shit and not to be a very good friend – but then perhaps I just freaked him out. Afterwards I realised that actually the father was much more likely to be another guy – I hadn’t even remembered the encounter until my best mate brought it up months later (it was with her ex) and would explain why the morning after pill (a week later) hadn’t worked. I’ve never told anyone that I suspect he was the father. I don’t really think either of these guys would care. But I feel most guilty about not telling my best mate. it’s not something I talk about much and it probably wouldn’t matter to her, but I love her, I hate that I lied (by just not telling the truth when it became apparent).
Thanks for creating an environment in which I can share this. Sorry it’s a cowardly anon.
I feel better for having just written it down. It seems much smaller now.

Anonymous said...

I'm in my 40's and still make out with my pillow! He even has a name, but it's not anyone I know.


La Bête said...

Hi, Andrea. You know that collaborating on a lie is just as bad as actually lying, right? Maybe even a little worse.

Your imaginary girlfriend sounds much nicer than mine, Walter. In fact, I think I’ve got bit of a crush on her.

You kind of had that coming, Anonymous.

Clare! Babooshka, Babooshka, Babooshka, ai, ai. As for school years, it’s all changed now.

Hi, Anonymous. If I were you, I wouldn’t tell your family. It would only cause them pain which is entirely unnecessary. Also, it seems like a very silly thing to me – I mean, the whole idea of virginity at marriage being important – but this is probably a cultural thing and I believe I am meant to be tolerant of what I consider to be the idiocies of other cultures and religions. I hope you’re not feeling bad about it though. I’d be interested to know – was it also important for your husband to be a virgin when you got married? Or not so much?

Richard sounds adorable, Clare. I’m sorry he moved to Sheffield. I think you two could have built a life together. By the way, mirror-kissing is weird. Runs off to try it.

Wow, Anon. That is quite a whopper. Thanks for sharing, and I’m glad it feels much smaller now.

Go on, Maria, tell us. What’s your pillow’s name?

Anonymous said...

"I’d be interested to know – was it also important for your husband to be a virgin when you got married? Or not so much? "

If you mean was it important to my parents, I'd say no. It was never brought up. I think it was more assumed, but it wasn't a requirement.

It was more important that he know how to treat and respect me.

And I typo'ed in my first post here. I have been keeping this secret from my family for 8 years--but we've been married 6. Sorry I didn't catch it before I posted.