The Genie, The Lamp, and The Lie
Everybody, sooner or later, sits down to a banquet of consequences.
-Robert Louis Stevenson
When I was eleven years old, my dog died. He was honestly one of the best friends anyone can ask for. I know that he’s a dog, but there is nothing in the world that is better than having a dog for a best friend. And when he died, my whole world came crashing down.
If my memory recalls correctly, it was about 7:50am on Thursday, May 14th. My next door neighbor, my human best friend, was at my house, helping me get ready; she came over every morning before school. When I woke up my mom had told me that my dog was breathing funny. He was a big dog, just about one hundred and twenty pounds, and he was getting old. She told me to not allow my friend to see him in case he were to get too excited and possibly make his breathing worse.
7:50am on Thursday, May 14th, I told my biggest lie. A lie that contained one word. One word so simple in meaning. One word that might be the reason I lost my furry best friend.
I told my mom, “Okay,” and I lied.
My dog loved people, and so he got excited around people constantly; shaking his tail, white globs of drool hanging off of his mouth, the whole shebang. And I knew this, I knew how excited he would get, I knew how old he was. But I took her to the room where he was, and I told her, “You’re not really supposed to see him but it’s okay! He loves you!” He started to shake his tail — and wheeze.
All in the same minute, his breathing got worse and something changed. Everything changed. My mom came rushing over and told me to go to the kitchen and stay there. I don’t even know where she came from, how she knew. She told me, “Do NOT come over here. Do you hear me? Do not.” I ran to the end of the hallway, my friend trailing closely behind, where my mom couldn’t see us. We were crouching in the corner. Meanwhile my brother, who was taking a shower then, was asked to come out and “help.”
I heard murmurs and the occasional raising of my mom and my brothers’ voices, possibly arguing over what to do. My friend and I just sat, waiting, thinking the worst. I whispered to her, “Do you think he’s dying? What if he is?” We were anxious, awaiting news that could either contain heartbreak or relief.
But then a sound that I was so unfamiliar with crept out of the room where my family was. It was the silent sob of my seventeen year old brother. I never thought that day would come. But the fact is, that day did come. And I knew, I knew part of it was my fault.
My mom came out of the room, desperately trying to hold back her own tears. She shook her head at me, apologized and told me what events had just happened. The first few seconds didn’t even register. I just stood in the hallway in a state of disbelief, not even in denial. When the shock of it all wore away, all that I was left with was the fact that my lie, consisting of only one word, was quite possibly a reason why my best friend was gone.
Lies are like genies. They come with consequences, ones that don’t end with a big “HAPPY ENDING” sign.
Journalist Po Bronson wrote about lying and how kids learn how to lie from their parents.While I’m sure part of the reason why I lied in the first place does have to do with the fact that I watched my parents lie many times growing up, I do know they aren’t the ones to blame. Not for that lie I told when I was eleven.
In his article, Learning To Lie, he says “The average Pennsylvania teen was 244 percent more likely to lie than to protest a rule.” I may not be “the average Pennsylvania teen” but this is exactly the reason why I gave my mom a simple “okay.” I didn't want to argue with her, I didn't want her to know that I wasn’t planning on following her directions. In trying so hard to avoid that, I created a mess of my own.
It’s understandable that everyone lies. Bronson agrees, he even goes to say that it’s something that we’re taught growing up. It’s almost imbedded into our different experiences. But I now understand that lying is not the path that I would like to take. Maybe my situation was different, and it is different from telling someone that they look nice when quite possibly they don’t. In truth, my simple “okay” wasn’t a white lie, although at the time I truly believed it was.
Maybe the passing of my best friend wasn’t my fault. Maybe it was just timing, but it sure as hell broke my heart. It sure as hell taught me a much needed lesson about lying. I’m not saying that I never lie. I wish I could say that beause we never know who or what exactly it is we’re affecting when we do lie.
Like I said before: lies are like genies and not like the one from Aladdin. They’re full of unseen consequences. Try not to rub the lamp, okay?