After all, what is a lie? Tis but the truth in masquerade.
- Lord Byron
Maybe its the maternal instinct, but I never leave town without wondering all the time how my loved ones are. Last month was no exception, except that I had just purchased my first cell phone and all those free anytime minutes clamored to be used. Checking on the family seemed a good reason to oblige.
Other than a case of the flu and a rare two-inch snowfall, most of my reports were mundane, until the big one: my 4-year-old granddaughter had cut her baby brothers hair.
I shivered until I learned the baby still had two eyes, both ears, and no lingering scars. Then in the midst of relief and the hilarity of the details, I did my best not to laugh while one still upset mother re-ran the play-by-play.
Our little barber wasnt quite 4 when her baby brother was born seven months ago, but almost from the start she assumed the role of understudy to her mother. In spite of repeated warnings to the contrary, she held, fed, coddled, and entertained the little one as if he were another one of her dolls. Now this.
She didnt do it. Scissors, scattered tufts of hair, and lopsided ears aside, throughout the long interrogation she insisted, I didnt cut my brothers hair!
Then who did it? the frustrated mother finally asked. The future fiction writer - as soon as she learns you dont have to add the syllable ed to a simple one-syllable, past-tense word - knew exactly who did it: the boy across the street.
Doug did it. He sneakted out of bed in the middle of the night and tookted the baby out of his crib and cutted his hair. Then he hided the hair and putted the baby back in the crib and sneakted back to his own house.
Plausible or not, Mother didnt buyded that story at all.
Look, young lady, I wont spank you if you did cut your brothers hair, but I will spank you if youre lying!
Confession came quick after that, along with a guided tour to the spot where she hided most of the cutted hair.
Shes her fathers daughter, her uncles niece, and likely gene carrier of much of the human race. After all, according to the bogus Bible text, A lie is an abomination unto the Lord, but a very present help in time of trouble. I can hear one abomination like it was yesterday.
Mom, Ive got the night off so Im going out.
I knew his girlfriend was off that night at the fast food restaurant where they both worked, but I thought he was scheduled to work. I gave him the benefit of the doubt - until the phone rang. My sons boss was calling to offer his sympathy and ask who in our family had died.
Now Ive told a lie or two in my lifetime, too, but Im terrible at it. All I could say was, Oh, no, and all the caller could reply was, Then I have no choice but to fire him. Fortunately for my son, I was able to convince his employer to reprimand him, suspend him, or take him over his knee but not to fire him. One weeks suspension and lost pay did the trick.
Meanwhile, on visiting the barber shop after I returned, I complimented my daughter-in-law on how well she had cleaned up the babys unorthodox haircut. The hair across his forehead was perfectly straight and, to me, both ears looked the same distance from the hairline.
I didnt touch it, she said. This is just the way his sister cut it.
Maybe shes going to be a barber or hairstylist after all, even if she is forbidden to have a pair of scissors until she is 30.
(Barbara Seaborn is a local, free-lance writer. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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