In a rite of secrecy, the three of us knelt in the woods, bent down and licked the snow, each making three marks to represent the trinity. Not that I believed in the trinity, but I knew that in these kinds of ceremonies one must appeal to a higher power. That was the day at ten years of age I learned telling outrageous lies can be tremendously fun, especially when you have an accomplice to smirk with. It started out innocent enough, a joke we realized she took seriously. But then we discovered that kind of innocent gullibility was an absolute goldmine for entertainment as my friend and I spun wilder and wilder yarns. For hours. It was so satisfying to see her face gawking at our adventures, encounters with the supernatural, or the historical events I told her took place in the woods behind my house, to hear the “really??” and “wow!!” of unquestioned trust and admiration. So after we got done with all of our tales, we swore her to secrecy in an elaborate ritual that I remember seemed magical. I also remember being strangely jealous that she believed all the wonderful things we told her. Jealous of her wide eyes and her wonder. Jealous that the magical moment of kneeling in the snow contained mystery and significance for her, but for me it was just a hoax.
Unable to carry the burden of guilt for very long, we told her the next day on the bus that we made everything up. I can still see her face that was so filled with awe a day before, filling with disappointment and anger. I guess I was too young to know that it was worth it to keep up the lies in order not to see the expression on the face of the one you love that you betrayed. That one should do everything in one’s power to avoid the damning silence on the other end of the line after a confession. At least that’s how it feels, but feelings can lie too.
I’m grateful I learned many lessons as a child so benignly. Never had an affair or tricked a fairy or years of keeping a dark secret. I bring to you lessons from the school of easy knocks, getting tapped on the wrist with a silver spoon. Perhaps they do not titillate as much as a story about getting locked up in Nepal for smuggling drugs, but it’s my story. It’s all I can tell.