When I was a kid and I told a lie or withheld something from my parents, even for a little while, my head would grow bigger and bigger and heavier and heavier until finally my lips would explode and a river of guilty words would spill out before me. I was bulimic with lies. These rivers of words made me feel lighter.
I blamed my inability to tell a lie on Jesus and more specifically his father, God. God was the person who knew I was lying. God was the person who would take away that evening’s Little Debbie Snack Cake or tomorrow’s Carvel. The thought of any God using a Little Debbie as ammunition seemed a little cruel but it wasn’t my job to judge God. It had been made perfectly clear to me that it was God’s job to do all the judging. God was in control of my actions and me; God knew where I was and when I was there. God knew about the time I pulled my brother’s Swiss Army knife on the neighbor for not getting off my swing set. God also knew about the time I wet my pants a little bit and then let it dry and then went to school with pee stained pants. God knew about the time I squished the firefly even though it was cruel and totally uncalled for. God watched Stacy and I compare one another’s private parts as Ms. Reigel asked someone to spell the word “Been. As in ‘I’ve been to the store.’” I watched Karl raise his hand as my elastic waistband snapped back against my stomach.
“B – I – N.” Karl had said proudly. “Been.”
Had I not been giggling over Stacy’s bald vagina I would have raised my hand to correct Karl’s mistake. God knew I knew the answer.
At age 6, God watched me make out with Tracy with our clothes on. Two days later, I told my mother about it. It was a good thing I did, too, since I was pregnant. As one might assume, out of forgiveness, God miraculously made me unpregnant and I didn’t even have to say any prayers.
Since God’s job was evening out the score, I always crumbled. Plus, I couldn’t stand saying so many Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s. And I am convinced that this ritual was the bad influence that introduced me to the present day world of mental chatter. Now, instead of visiting by way of self-inflicted guilt prayer, it comes to me in song and credit card debt.
Today, I no longer blame God for my inability to lie or hold things in. That’s not because I have actually lied and gotten away with it, it’s because I’m just not sure how I feel about God anymore. No matter how many lies I have told and how many times I have remained silent, I have still had countless cones of ice cream and while my expanding waistband no longer allows for Little Debbie Snack cakes, I have had cake.
Two Sundays ago, I washed my cell phone. It was a tragic event. I was cleaning up a vegetable oil spill that took place on my pants when I threw my jeans directly into the washer. It was only after it filled up and began to swoosh back and forth did I realize that my phone had gone down with them. I took the phone apart. I let it dry. I placed it in a plastic Ziploc bag with two silica tablets. I let it rest for a week. After regaining consciousness for 12 nighttime hours, it suffered from a massive stroke and never woke up again.
No matter how hard I try, I still can’t keep the stupid things I do quiet. I can’t seem to fight the weight they add to my mind. This past Sunday, Tobyjoe and I went to the park to run on the track. I brought my Nano with me, which held a set list called “Chick Stuff”. I stuffed it into my gym shorts, pressed play, and hit the road. When we got back the both of us stripped down naked, briefly gawked at the other’s nudity, and jumped directly into the shower. I left my clothing in a heap at the base of the tub.
“Where should I put my clothes?” He asked me when we were done showering.
“Go ahead and throw them directly into the washer. I’ll try and keep up with them. I’ll do a mini load now.” He did so. I turned it on and then hurried around to grab the rest.
An hour went by and I returned to the washer to empty the load. I saw money.
“I washed my money.” I said.
He looked up from his paper. “You really need to stay away from the washer. This is getting ridiculous. Come to think of it, you’re no longer washing my clothing.”
“No, with you, I am terrified especially after that time I washed that roll of film from vacation. I still feel bad about that. I go through your clothing. Mine, on the other hand…”
I placed the money on the edge of the table to dry and returned to the washer. I began pulling the rest of the clothing out. That’s when I saw my black headphones. My headphones are never without their mate. I knew immediately what I had done. I had two choices. I could either pretend it didn’t happen and pull them out quietly, and later feign an act of technological malfunction due to wear and tear, or I could just tell the truth, the blatantly unfunny, pathetic, personal truth.
I’m now a grown woman who has avoided the whole truth before and gotten away with it. I am now a grown woman who knows that two girls kissing do not make babies, words aren’t always spelled the way they sound, and vaginas eventually grow hair. I am now a grown woman who should be able to refrain from truth bulimia.
“Toby, I washed my Nano.” I held its lifeless body in my hands. The wires from my headphones sagged and dropped around my fingertips like thin, pale, dead arms. Gravity can be so ugly.
His eyes looked up but his chin did not. His mouth was open but he said nothing. His head shook from side to side, spewing shame onto me like water droplets from a wet dog.
“Toby, I washed my Nano. I can’t believe I washed my Nano. Now, I have no phone and no iPod and I have no money to replace either of them because of this stupid camera.”
I put it on the windowsill and returned to the kitchen.
“Toby, please don’t tell anyone about this. Even this embarrasses me and I rarely get embarrassed. This is just stupid. I feel so stupid.”
(I didn’t know it then but he would.)
We grow up and we fib whether or not we believe in God at all. We may show off our genitals in a crowded second grade classroom during a spelling bee under the eyes of God and anyone who may have turned around. We may pee our pants and try and lie about the stain and stench. We may say we’re well and then throw up all over the parachute in gym class. We may pull 1-inch knives on neighborhood bullies and make out with the girl next door. We may wash expensive, black electronics we deem a daily necessity and ask our spouses not to tell anyone. And then they may head to work and tell the entire office, “Hey, guess what my wife did!” We may then decide that the only way we’ll feel better about doing something so unbelievably stupid is to own up to it entirely.
My head feels a little lighter now both mentally and physically.