Ding dong merrily on lie

We’ve all done it.

To save someone’s feelings.

If we can’t be bothered.

Or, sometimes just for the sheer drama of it.

The art of lying is a huge source of fascination for me.

It would be a lie to proclaim to have never uttered one or two corkers in my time, but I’d like to think that somewhere in between the trial and error of entanglement, and being (or at least trying to be) a fairly decent person, that I (almost never) rely on untruths to get on.

The chances are, this puts me at a significant disadvantage in life.

I play with a straight bat.

It is true that my middle class roots have meant that I have never had to fight for survival; nor have I lead such a privileged life that boredom has created the need for drama.

That is to say, I’m not the sort of person who would call in a bomb hoax or fake my own death for attention.

Honestly, I’m not.

My kind of lies are fairly mild. The sort of that might involve replying disingenuously when posed with “does my bum look big in this” enquiries etc.

In a world where BS rules, I sometimes wonder why I don’t lie more. Life could be made out to be so much more exciting – I could worm my way out of things endlessly, seemingly without guilt.

Perhaps I shouldn’t care about the prospect of being deemed flaky, unreliable or sneaky but I suspect that even if I could, I would find the effort of keeping up a faux pretence somewhat wearing.

Does telling the truth sometimes cause more grief than it’s worth?

Undoubtably.

Do people think I’m uncharitable to just say no to that invitation upfront when I know fine well that when it comes down to it, I won’t want to go?

Probably.

Christmas time is especially laden with untruths, particularly with so many social events flying around in its run up.

My observations suggest that dropping out of said events at the last minute due to sudden illness, bereavement, a last minute lack of funds, leaking washing machines (and so on) seems to be the norm these days.

If you are the sort of repeat-offender who is more than likely to sack someone off in favour of a better offer in December, even just to lounge on the sofa in your PJs – why not just say no from the outset? Why hedge your bets anyway?

If you disregard this approach and still feel that your only option is to lie your way out of something, be sure to think your approach through carefully.

In the age of facebook, you will almost certainly get caught out in the process of executing a social gazzump. Or at the very least, spend your evening dodging paparazzi and thereafter begging people not to tag you by name online.

Executing a seamless “dropping fly” strategy can be quite interesting to observe or take part in.

How far in advance should the submission of your excuse lie be lodged in order to be deemed acceptable by the host? Illness, for example, almost certainly has to be an on-the-day get out text in order to be authentic.

An on-the-day lie is generally fraught with the risk of too many other “dropping flies” getting in ahead of you, potentially leaving you in that awkward position of not really being able to drop out after-all.

A day-before-lie is a good one for the more risk-averse because then that’s it done and dusted and you can get on with shopping for your new outfit for the party you’re going to instead.

Coming up with an acceptable lie to cover two days might be harder though.

Even better might be that during-the-party-text-that-nobody-sees-until-they-are-drunk-and-don’t-care. You can basically make up any lie you like then as it will be accepted and forgotten about instantly. This is probably only appropriate for larger gatherings where your drop out hadn’t already been pipped to the post by three quarters of the other invitees.

Coming clean – I have probably done all of the above at least once in my life. I agonise over doing it though (not that that makes it an better).

It’s the persistent offenders that bug the heck out of me.

I even have a favourite offender. I have watched her knit lies at work on various subjects many, many times, but have only actually been on the receiving end of them once.

The incident in question occurred on the day of our work Christmas party three years ago. The event is a lavish annual black tie dinner dance, always held on a winters Saturday night in a grand Scottish hotel. Miss X lived around 20 miles from the hotel and so decided that she and her partner would take a room overnight. For weeks in advance, right up to the day, Miss X invited us and a few other colleagues for pre-party fizz in her room. We were all kinda meh about it but seeing as it was an uncharacteristically nice gesture from an otherwise fairly anti-social person, we said yes to
drinks at 6.30pm.

On the day, I dropped my husband off in the city centre for a pint with friends whilst I hit the hairdressers.

At 4.30pm I emerged (a vision of loveliness – ahem!) to a text from Miss X saying, “OMG, my car has broken down in the middle of nowhere, I’m stuck by myself and there’s no sign of help coming.”

Worried, I try calling. No answer.

I text, “Oh no, hope all ok? I’m in my car now. If you tell me where you are I will come and help – or at least keep you company until the mechanic arrives.”

Miss X: “I’m not sure where I am. I’m not sure how long this will take 😞 pre-drinks might be a problem.”

Despite being short on time to get ready myself, I was happy to be late if it meant helping a damsel in distress and so I texted her back assuring her that it was no problem to start driving in her direction.

No response back and so in the meantime I drove further into the city centre to collect my husband from the pub. I paused in a lay-by beside a shopping centre to wait for him. I checked my phone.

Another text from Miss X: this time saying “it’s ok, mechanic on way but will prob not manage to host pre-drinks”

Thank goodness she’s safe I think to myself and texted back: “don’t worry about drinks. Get home safely and will see you later.”

I look up and do a double take.

Guess who is parked two cars in front of me outside McDonalds.

Yup, you guessed it.

Miss X.

I see my text light up her screen. She replies. “Thanks, it’s so dark out here in the wilderness. I’m so glad mechanic has arrived.”

Oblivious, my husband emerges from the pub and past her car. He sees her and knocks on her window jovially. I’m not sure why but I start to feel sick like it’s me in the wrong.

She turns round and sees me, sending a sickly smile and a feeble wave in my direction.

I find myself involuntarily waving back like a village idiot. I watch open mouthed as her car starts up and slowly pulls away, the prospect of socialising with this unrepentant liar in an hour or so looming over me like a storm cloud.

There’s a moral to that story folks.

Moreover, a simple, we’ll just see you at the main event would have been perfectly acceptable.

Sometimes in life dogs do eat homework and that’s ok, you’re only human.

Just. Be. Honest.

Does this kind of social etiquette really matter?

Should it matter?

I would love to hear your views on how best to drop out of social engagements. Do you do it? If so what’s your strategy?

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15 thoughts on “Ding dong merrily on lie

  1. Wow! That was a doozy of a lie.

    I am actually notorious for being blunt force honest. My husband tries to coach me to fib for the sake of diplomacy but I can never reach for a reasonable fib in time. For a creative person, I lack imagination when it comes to lying and I don’t think I could ever keep track of my lies either so I just go with the truth. I try a gentle version of the truth, of course, and usually that suffices but I’m not beyond being completely frank if someone persists and I need to be more clear.

    My strategy for declining social invites, therefore, is just to say thanks for thinking of me but it’s not my thing or I’m so busy right now that I just need a quiet night in. Since I have precisely one local friend since emigrating, it’s not really an issue any more except when it comes to invites to go along to soirees with my husband’s work colleagues. We have no one to babysit so that’s how I get out of it. That’s the truth but it’s also a convenient truth since I almightily suck at schmoozing and can’t do small talk, well not sophisticated, appropriate small talk anyway. Maybe my husband should adopt my honesty and say, “Sorry but my wife can’t join us because she’s socially inept”.

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    • Haha! Your comment made be laugh. I will let you off because a convienient upfront excuse, even if no effort has been made to solve it, is a completely different thing! At least you are still saying no & being upfront. I may have to do a post a month inspired by my subject’s lies as there are a few belters! Annoyingly, she gets away with doing it. Perhaps by not giving two hoots if she is caught. Nonetheless, her kind of lying for lyings sake must be a kind of personality disorder!

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  2. Honesty is always the best policy. I make every effort to be kind and diplomatic, but if I don’t want to accept an invitation, I just decline with a “Thank you, but I won’t be able to make it.”

    I’m with you when it comes to not hurting someone’s feelings. It is difficult to tell someone their bum looks big. I might turn it back on them and ask them if that’s how they feel in whatever they are wearing. Just today, my husband bought a shirt I didn’t love. He asked if I liked it. I told him I didn’t like the stripes. He bought it anyway. I guess he doesn’t have high regard for my opinion about fashion.

    When I was younger and single, I did lie to get out of a social invitation one time, which was suggested to me by my kleptomaniac housemate. Never take advice from a person who lies and steals. It was a bad idea, and I got caught in the lie. I felt terrible.

    I love that your coworker got caught. That was unbelievable. I don’t know how she could have faced you after that. She should have got out of her car, walked over to you and apologized; then, told you the truth – especially after you offered to go out of your way to help her. What a b****.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Robin, thanks for your comment. I love that your husband bought the shirt anyway. Wonder if he liked it so much that he would have bought it even if you said you hated it outright?! It’s funny how sometimes asking for an opinion falls on deaf ears if the given answer is not what was wanted!

      This colleague is a real piece of work for sure. I dont actually work at that company anymore but I secretly hope she reads this post! Suspect it would be water off a duck’s back! It’s the fact that I somehow felt bad for catching her and then it became an issue for me to decide how to address that annoys me almost more than offering to help! Some people, eh! Shameless!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I totally get that you felt bad for catching her in the lie, and then she left her mess at your feet. It really was shameless. At least you don’t have to see her anymore 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow! I guess I should be feeling charitable this time of year, but she sounds like an amazingly horrible person. I know a few people who always make up excuses to drop out of engagements at the last minute, but they at least keep it simple. I sometimes have just not shown up somewhere (out of social anxiety) and offered a lame apology after the fact, but I wouldn’t dream of showing up somewhere else instead. Ugh–some people are such jerks. Personally, I am not a good liar, so I usually have to be honest, even if I don’t want to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Marcy! I’m with you on all of this. Why feel the need to completely fabricate something when a simple “running late” or even “won’t manage afterall” would have sufficed. Some people!?! Thanks for stopping by 😉

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  4. Now that my boys are older, I’ve really managed to whittle my holiday obligations to exactly the right amount for me. Even so, if I need to turn something down I usually will tell a white lie. People don’t always understand my need for time alone to recharge my batteries.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Glasgowdragonfly's Blog and commented:

    If you’re sitting trying to think of an “excuse” to get out of those annoying Christmas drinks you foolishly agreed to because you can’t be arsed or have a way better offer – read on. The seasonal lie sure is catching at this time of year! But beware – take the lie too far and you’re sure to be caught out by karma – as I discovered!

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  6. What a ridiculous situation to get herself caught in! I do tend to think that people who compulsively and dramatically lie when there is absolutely no reason to usually have some kind of issues that are making them attention seek, though, so I often feel a bit sorry for them. #PoCoLo

    Like

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