Monday, May 16, 2005

The Art of Lying

A false statement deliberately presented as being true, a falsehood; something meant to deceive or give a wrong impression: LIE.

A false statement deliberately presented as being true, a falsehood; something meant to deceive or give a wrong impression while speaking to one's meddlesome, overbearing Jewish relatives: SELF PRESERVATION.

I'm attempting to teach my dear, naive little sister how to lie to my mother and grandmother, and pretty much any crazy relative we might have. Yes, this will take awhile.

She met a boy that my family heartily approves of. He's good on paper and my family would sell any one of us to a guy that's good on paper for a couple of goats and some jasmine if they could. (As Middle Eastern Jews, we clearly have different priorities).

And now, the endless questions and prying have begun. "So, did he call?" "When did he call?" "What did he say when he called?" "What did you say when he called?" "Does he want to see you?" "When does he want to see you?" (I think you get the drift).

And my darling little widgeon of a sister all doe-eyed, trustingly answers all of their questions, thinking they're trying to help her. But she doesn't know they're actually looking at her like the wolf looks at Bugs Bunny when he wants to eat him, with a big red apple stuffed in her mouth and miniature chef hats on her legs. They want to get her married off as soon as humanly and legally possible.

So I of course feel compelled to run interference. Because I'm not going to let her be the Play Your Cards Right Girl. So I answer for her. "No, he didn't call. He's not interested. She told me. Leave her alone." Of course, he's called her every day. But if they know, if they are given any confidential information they will use it to torture, break down and harass my little widgeon into insecurity and desperation (I'd like to offer Exhibit One, her neurotic older sister, me, as proof of the veracity of that statement).

She knows to follow my lead when I answer for her. My mom looks at me, "I didn't ask you if he called. I asked your sister." And I say, "Mom, do you really want to make her talk about it and feel bad all over again?" And my little actress takes her cue, puts her head down, looking all sad. And my mom looks back and forth, trying to gauge the situation, because she already knows I'm not to be trusted, but she doesn't know I've got my sister in a crash course for manipulation and lying.

And she foolishly tries to circle in and attack from another angle, very sweetly this time, "But I just want to know if he called you?"

And my sister looks back and forth between us, not quite sure which way to go.

Lady, I see you coming from a mile away. "Mom, don't you think she would have told you if he called? (creating a false sense of security). Why are you trying to make it worse for her? (creating guilt). Leave her alone. (Looking at her levelly, maintaining full eye contact) Mom, he didn't call her. (Then the clincher - leaning and whispering conspiratorially) I'll tell you about it later."

Now she thinks I'm going to impart some sort of gossipy information that my sister is too upset to talk about.

As comprehension dawns on her face, my mother says, "Ohhh, okay, I understand."

And my sister looks at me in awe that I've not only managed to deflect this onslaught of questioning, but I've managed to create a situation where my mom will actually feel bad about bringing it up to her for fear of stirring up any residual negative feelings.

See, I think that an emotionally and mentally healthy, beautiful, intelligent 19 year old needs to date without pressure to get married. Because that's just crazy talk. No Grandma, no one NO ONE gets married at 19 anymore. BECAUSE THE BRIDE'S NOT EVEN OLD ENOUGH TO DRINK AT HER OWN DAMN WEDDING!

In private I grab her by the shoulders and tell her "Don't let them get to you. DON'T TELL THEM ANYTHING. ANYTHING." Repeat after me: "I will not be a Stepford wife. I will not be a Stepford wife."

Who knows, in a few months she might be as good a liar as I am to them, and then she can sneak off to Vegas with a secret boyfriend like I did at her age. It just takes practice.


Kiki said...

Where were you when I was growing up? I wish I would have had a big sis like you. I only wish you hadn't have gone through crap in order to learn....

Hope your sister thanks you big time for this - and tell her to wait to get married. She is so freaking young. I was 21 - what the heck did I know?

Laynie said...

I was 19 when I married my husband. While I do not regret it, as I'd gotten my 'self discovery/world travel' done early and wanted to start settling into the roots I missed growing up, I do firmly belive that a 19 year old woman NEEDS to be able to fall in love without the pressures of family and society. Your sister is SO blessed to have you. And you, well, your blog is rapidly making you a personal heroine for me. Especially as I try to get the guts together to sign up for the lsats this June.

LJ said...

I got married at the ripe age of 27 (or was it 26? I forget now..) and I still didn't know what the hell I was doing (divorced 1.5 years later). I know I don't know the inner workings of many relationships I see around me, but when I hear about a 19-23 year old getting married, I just cringe. Obviously I hope for the best, but geez, if you think about it, you aren't the same person at 19 that you are at 25. Therefore, the person you choose at that age may not be the person you'd choose later. But, the seasoned among us (you and I) know this.

I love that you're helping your younger sister avoid the pitfalls of family "good intentions."

Fuzzball said...

Oh man, I've been trying to teach my siblings how to lie forever, but to no avail. Then they call me to whine and all I can say is "I HAVE GIVEN YOU THE TOOLS AND YOU HAVE SPURNED MY TEACHINGS! BE GONE WITH YOU!"


GQ1NYC said...

Corruption of a young mind is always a beautiful thing. Married at age 19 is crazy. People should be required by law to wait until they are 25. Or until they end up on Maury during those "Who's the Daddy" episodes.

I was 19 when my High School Sweet heart was only 16. her parents caught us in her room together (not during) and they wanted us to get married right away. It was an older sister such as you that defused the situation and convinced her Mom that we don't need to get married. I was not welcomed at the house anymore and we were caught months later at my apartment one night when she told her mom she had to babysit and they got a call that she wasn't. The rest is history.

VI said...


I can't even imagine.

Good thing you are there to protect her!

B. said...

Look... she's the last hope for your mom. The poor woman has sacrificed so much for you and your sisters. At this point she'd probably have to give away the goats and Jasmine just to trick some poor jewish guy into taking you... I mean you're dating Catholics now for god's sake. All she wants is for you to be happy... can't you just accept that?

Your Cuz said...

Last I remember, you got caught in Vegas by my mom. HAHA

LJ said...

I laughed so hard at the comment you left me about guy #30 that my coworker came over to my office to see what was so funny. I know I should talk to him first. I've learned my lesson in the past. But I was feeling spunky and decided to throw caution to the wind. Dear God, I'm in trouble, aren't I? This time, I won't be afraid to leave if he's a tool. You know, I need that cellular service that you can program to call you if you're on a bad date. They give you a way out. They have those now, or so I hear. Let's hope it's not as bad as we think it will be...

Anonymous said...

marriage is about change no matter how old you are, it is a work in progress

randomcharacter said...

I love your blog. You are so damn funny and you're a damn good lawyer too (cf teaching sister to lie).

Jack Burden said...

This is a fantastic post! I'm going to email it to my big sister. She's run interference for me a on a few occasions, though I don't think it required such a kung fu mastery of parental expectations.

You should make it clear to your sister that, when she turns 21, she is obligated to buy you many, many drinks.