Monday, March 15, 2010

Pants On Fire

Spring is always a flirt. Occasionally a tease. But this year, ah, this year Spring has been nothing short of ... well, a liar.She pranced into town with a two hundred-dollar haircut wearing 4-inch Jimmy Choos and trailing Chanel No. 5 just as the puddles of melted snow dried up. All of us, every last one of us, ran outside stripping off coats and gloves, tilting our chins into her scent and holding out our bare arms to the laser-beam sun that streamed in her wake.

We woke up the next morning to clouds as thick as meringue, rain as heavy as a fallen pound cake and our girl having vanished sometime in the night.

Another week of morning frost and evening chill, another week of resigned bundling up, another week of landscape colored in every shade of gray and she appeared again – strutted down the sidewalk with nary an excuse or apology for her bad manners. And we, fools that we are, took our lunches outside, went running in shorts, tried to cajole her into staying by calling out to each other, "Isn’t it a beautiful day?" and "I’m so glad that spring is finally here."

But she would not be charmed, would not be swayed by compliments. One warm and sunny afternoon was all to which she was willing to commit.

When I was a little girl I was pretty sure that the worst thing a person could be was a liar. I didn’t know about murderers and rapists and terrorists. I was not, thank God, conversant with infidelity or abandonment. I lived in a world not unlike that of Beaver Cleaver and, in that world, speaking an untruth would have resulted in the immediate infliction of corporal punishment and, worse, the proclamation that my parents, indeed, the entire world was "disappointed."

Which is why I never lied. Never. I would, in fact, go to great lengths to avoid even the appearance of lying. Once, I came home from school and told Mama that a friend’s mother was going to have a baby. Surprised at the announcement, Mama asked, "Are you sure?"

Confronted suddenly with the possibility that I might have misunderstood and determined not to be that most horrible of miscreants, a liar, I responded, "Uh, I don’t know. Maybe I made it up." Even now, forty-something years later, Mama laughs when she tells the story. There is probably a mental health professional somewhere who thinks I need therapy.

I don’t live in Beaver Cleaver world anymore. I live in a world where elected officials lie about everything from campaign contributions to paternity. I live in a world where professional athletes lie about performance-enhancing drugs, where celebrities lie about domestic violence, where religious leaders lie about everything that everybody else lies about. I make my living in a profession where my job some days is doing nothing more than trying to convince people to admit that they are lying.

You would forgive me, then, if I confessed that I don’t believe much of anything anybody says anymore.

But I won’t say that. Because it’s not true.

I believe people when they say they are going to call me back. I believe people when they say they would like me to come visit. I believe people when they tell me they are sorry.

That is not to say, however, that my belief is always well-placed. Some people never call me back. Some people find reasons to rescind their invitations. And some people aren’t really sorry. But the burden of the lie – And it is a heavy heavy burden. – is always on the liar, not the believer.

All that to say that the minute Spring comes back for good, the very second she crosses the county line carrying the azaleas and the fireflies and the baseball games in her Louis Vuitton bag, I’m going to be waiting for her with open arms. All will be forgiven and all will be well.

Copyright 2010

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