Notes From a Walkman Junkie: Compulsive Liars Anonymous
My Friday night was spent having a good old chat with some friends while Patsy Cline softly crooned in the background. The subject of lying arose during the conversation, specifically that of the compulsive variety. My friend, Cee shared a few of her personal experiences on the matter. She explained that it is her desire to connect with people in some way that drives her need to spew out an abundance of supererogatory falsehoods. For instance, when one of Cee’s professors told her that she had recently been ill with bronchitis, Cee felt compelled to share that her brother too suffers from bronchitis at least twice a year and proceeded to go into several unnecessary details about antibiotics and what not concerning the subject. Incidentally, Cee’s brother has never had bronchitis…in fact, I don’t think she even has a brother.
Cee also divulged a recent account that occurred in the first week of a cooking class that she is taking. The instructor of the course had asked if anyone had any diet restrictions, food allergies, etc. that she should know about as the class involved a great deal of food sampling. Without much thought and for no apparent reason, Cee blurted out with full confidence and determination, “I’m vegan.” She is not vegan…or even vegetarian and has since regretted this misleading disclosure. At the very least, Cee said she wished she had announced a restriction that was less limiting like, “I’m lactose intolerant” or “my brother is vegan.” Now of course, she has been forced to fully commit to her mistruth and has been unable to partake in more than a sliver of a taste (under the suspicious eye of her instructor) of any of the dishes prepared in class.
I experienced a slightly similar situation years ago when one of my coworkers thought my name was not Anne, but Amber. Instead of correcting her the first time she called me by the wrong name like a reasonable person, I said nothing and thought surly she would hear someone call me by my actual name and the mistake would amend itself. I was wrong. She continued to call me Amber and enough time had passed that correcting her at that point would have been ridiculous. I would have looked like a complete asshat for not rectifying the error immediately. I had no choice but to fully accept my new name, hence, remaining Amber to my former colleague (and anyone she happen to introduce me to) for the next seven years.
These little tales, however, pale in comparison to my ex-husband, Felice’s lying compulsion. It seemed to most often occur in social situations with little things like he would tweak his name a bit when he met new people. He would often go with a more Americanized version of Felice like, “Hi, my name is Happy, nice to meet you.” This name switching evolved into a dilemma where different people knew him by a myriad of names which became quite difficult for me to keep track of. I never knew what the hell to call him in the presence of others and often resorted to just mumbling his name in an inaudible tone, trailing off at the end. Felice continuously and with no clear or rational purpose presented random false information about himself. This became even more problematic when he started to not only lie about his name, occupation and life in general, but mine as well.
I can recall going to meet his family for the first time for a holiday gathering a while back. In the place of disclosing to his family my actual profession of teaching kindergarten, he had misleadingly stated that I taught autistic children (or as his Italian family lovingly referred to them, ‘spastics’) and as a fun additional bonus; he also told them that I wrote children’s books. Felice could be a bit of a bully where I was concerned and had insisted that I go along with his new make believe particulars when questioned by his family. I reluctantly tried to abide by his wishes and proceeded to have some of the most awkward and absurd conversations of my life. For the most part, they basically went like this, “Hey Anne, what is it like to teach the spastic children?” I would then answer, “Oh…you know, it is pretty much like teaching any other children…Oh, look at the time…I have to go do this thing…now…over there..” It only got worse when I was addressed about my nonexistent writing career where upon more uncomfortable discourse ensued and went something like this, “Hey Anne, I hear that you write children’s books, what are they about?” To which I responded, “Ummm…well, they are about identity..and conflict..wacky high jinks…you know, with animals…and things..happen…in the middle….Say, what a lovely sculpture, anyone know what we are having for dinner?”
Needless to say, that was a very unpleasant experience and one I would never wish to relive. If only there had been some sort of compulsive liars anonymous group that Felice could have joined to help with his issues. Though, I can imagine those meetings might not have been terribly productive for obvious reasons. I am attaching Walk Away by Franz Ferdinand because Felice was always quite fond of this song…Well, as far as I know.
Watch “Walk Away” by Franz Ferdinand