The idea for this memory challenge was prompted by a recent experience on LinkedIn. This is a long intro but I have to write it out because it has been festering in me.
I have, of late, been trying to track down some people from my life that I have lost touch with. I have found some of them, a few on Facebook, a couple on Myspace, and some on Classmates. I went to LinkedIn to look for one of the best friends I had when I was living in Louisiana, the person that made it possible for me to survive living there. My college study buddy, my racquet ball partner, my confidant about all the craziness in my life, Donna Allard. I knew her husband had a business in the Virginia Beach area and I was hoping that he would be on LinkedIn and I could get back in touch with Donna via Dennis. While I was there (on LinkedIn) I decided to see if I could find a few other people I had lost track of, way back to my before I ever left California days and when I was spending a lot of time at the local horse ranch, the Lazy R. (Incidentally, I found Dennis but no response from Donna.)
Anyway, I remembered one family that we had spent time with both at the ranch and away from it. I typed in the name of the wife. Nothing. I typed in the name of the husband, bingo, there he was. I knew it was him because of the location and the things in the profile. So I clicked on “let’s connect” and added a short note. There had been only good times with this family. Lots of laughter. They were good people, mom, dad, three kids.
I got a notice back from LinkedIn that this person said he didn’t know me.
He. Didn’t. Know. Me?
These people were guests in my home many times. His oldest daughter was my son’s first girlfriend. When I found a turtle in our garage we gave it to their son who wanted a pet but couldn’t yet have a dog. When I had to get rid of my little dog before I left California, she found a home with Dougie too.
And yet he says he didn’t know me?
So I started to think about lies in childhood. There are three that standout for me.
I cheated at playing cards with my grandfather once. He wasn’t sure, not totally, so I lied. Flat out, bald-faced lie. He knew better. It was days before he even spoke to me and months before he would play cards with me again.
In the 6th grade I had braces. I also had a best friend (or so I thought) named Jan. Walking home from school one day (we lived next door to each other) she hauled off and socked me in the mouth. I don’t remember what exactly we were talking about but it wasn’t one of those conversations where a punch to the face was an appropriate response. My inside lip caught on my braces and ripped open. I ran home with blood streaming out of my mouth. That night my grandmother, my mother and I walked next door and reported what Jan had done. All we wanted was an apology. Jan looked her mother straight in the eye and said, “I didn’t do it.”
Everyone believed her. No one believed me.
The third lie hurts most of all. It was in the 4th grade and we were required to memorize the preamble to the constitution. Then we went to the 6th grade class to “show off” what we had memorized.
I trotted up to the front of the class and recited the words. The teacher thanked me and then asked me my name.
I said, “Susan Webb.”
Her face crinkled in concentration then she smiled. “Are you any relation to Tommy Webb?”
For just a moment, my heart raced with joy. Tommy Webb? Tommy Webb was my father. The father I had never met. The father everyone at home pretended didn’t exist. The father I felt sure held the very answer to who I was or who I was supposed to be.
But I had been trained at home to pretend there was no such person as Tommy Webb. He had been nothing more than a person passing through on his way to somewhere that didn’t include me.
I looked up at the teacher, stomach quavering and said, “No. No relation at all.”
Your turn. What do you remember of lies from your childhood?