Last night with the Petersons (writing group) I had a moment where a friend asked me “are those cookies shortbread?” referring to a plate of snacks I had set out.

And I answered “yes!” and in my mind I had this flash of the Walker’s red plaid. In that moment, I totally and utterly believed this to be a memory from when I put the cookies on the plate.

A nanosecond later, reality kicked in, I remembered tasting one of the cookies from the sesame street alphabet cookie box to make sure they weren’t stale before I put them on the plate.

So I backed tracked. “No, I said, I lied, they aren’t shortbread.”

Which struck me as odd as I’d just said with confidence that they were. And in the explanation, I realized this happened to me a lot. For some reason, who knows, suggestion? wishful thinking? short circuit in the brain? day dreaming? many times I will answer a question (of no importance, really, so why lie?) like the cookie question with a lie.

NOT ON PURPOSE. Really, at that moment, I believe I am telling the truth, even though an instant later I realize I’m wrong.

And two of the other Petersons also said that happened to them. Which made me relieved. I mean, really, I wouldn’t want to think I’m the only person with senile dementia passing themselves off as sane.

But it got me to thinking about how lies, at least in my life, often come from three different scenarios, none of them ill-willed or mean-spirited.

1) lying in defense or fear

Girl2 does this. She knows I’ll be mad, so she lies about her own behavior. It’s fear-induced, not to be mean, but because something inside her is so afraid to admit the truth. (this kind of lying is, of course not limited to girl2)

2) lying in a moment of madness

My cookie example. I mean, really I thought they were shortbread.

3) lying because you want to please or connect with someone.

Like, telling a friend your husband doesn’t clean the toilet when he actually does because you want to connect with that friend’s experience. Or telling someone it’s okay that their child broke your 1000 year old ming vase. Or telling your mother your score on the math test is 100 when really it was 98 just because you want to please her.

I think we often think of lies as these monolithic, terrible things that are always a result of someone’s ill intentions, but I think they aren’t. And I think we can all build up these weird realities around ourselves when we let these little lies get out of hand.

So…there are character possibilities in this musing…