I live a lie.
“What’s your name?” he shouted over the crowd and the rap beat, bumping up through the soles of our feet and rattling our rib cages.
“Uh, Lucy.” I answer with a coy smile.
“Like in the sky with diamonds?”
“Yeah, my dad’s favorite song.” My dad hates the Beatles.
“Hey, what’s your name?”
“Nice to meet you, Ellie. What do you do?”
“I’m a tax attorney.”
“Ma’am, would you like a Sally’s card?”
“Are you sure? It comes with discounts.”
“I don’t live here.”
“Oh, where do you live? Maybe we have one nearby.”
“Wow, that’s far away. What brings you down here?”
“I’m on my way back from a business trip. I’m in advertising.”
I like to make up identities for inquisitive strangers. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the “huh?” I always get when I first tell a stranger that my name is Opal or maybe I’m just weirded out by the fact that some guy in a bar has enough information about me from a short conversation to find out where I work in a town this size. It doesn’t help that I’m passive aggressive so when a store clerk pressures me I feel like I’m one-upping them by creating a new identity.
People are weird. Me too. I’ll count myself in on that one, but it’s all very true. I know I’m not the only one making myself up as I go along. I once met Louis XIV in bar. He kissed my hand and got way too excited when I called him the Sun King. The Sun King was also a Senior Airman and a lousy dancer. I also met a man one three different occasions who used three different pseudonyms. Every single time he chose to argue poetry with me, even when I didn’t tell him I was an English teacher. It’s like it’s written on my face.
It occurs to me that we are all making ourselves up as we go along even when we are using our real names, our real jobs, and our real smiles. It also occurs to me that the last statement is a little too psuedo-philisophical. However, it’s not invalid. We all like to think we are honest and solid even while we are breaking hearts with our inconsistencies.
I think that trying on other personalities makes me like my own better. Better than that, my friends tolerate it and sometimes even get a kick out of it.
If I’m honest, I lie to myself and people I’m close to as well. Lying comes naturally for some of us, and I prefer to think of it as making my stories sound better than they really are. Besides, we all know our memories are lying to us anyway. In two years, my lies will be true.
Furthermore, it lets me forget sometimes that I’m a boring English teacher, that my students think that I am 10 years older than I really am, and that I have bills that keep coming even when the money stops. Escapism: it’s a good thing.
I’d like to justify it by saying that I’m practicing roles for writing, but we all know that I hardly ever really write anything. So let’s just call a spade a spade and say I’m a big fat liar and my pants are likely on fire at this very moment.
My advice to you is to lie. Life is boring; spice it up. I’m not saying you should hurt anyone, just pad your stories. Tell me about the bear that charged into your office and stole all the tape rolls out of storage instead of how you’ve been secreting them away in your bottom desk drawer so that you can tape your face into weird expressions later. Tell me that you’d like to hang out, but you found a body in your backyard and the cops are coming. Tell me you’re going through a tunnel. But whatever you do, don’t be boring.