I am a liar. Oh, not on the level of a politician, or even a four-year-old boy covered head to toe in chocolate sauce, but I do occasionally enjoy a bit of prevarication. I consider it performance art, a personal play written by me, with a very, very small audience. It’s storytelling!
It started when I was in my twenties, occasionally travelling for work, or more often travelling to meet Hubs, whose travel destinations were way cooler than my Indianapolis or Dallas. Weirdly, random plane mates and other fellow travelers would frequently ask me if I was a nurse. There are a few problems with this assumption: First, my “if you vomit, I vomit” constitution, as well as my propensity to flee in panic when confronted with abrasions, contusions, open wounds, oddly shaped limbs or skinned knees. I can only guess this misconception is due to my general compassionate and caring aura …
After the third random nurse accusation, I simply replied “Yes, yes I am.” This was like a gateway drug. I started introducing myself (Sarah) to fellow travelers and telling them I was a nurse, from Cleveland, with four kids. Thinking back, thank God there was never a medical emergency when I was knitting my yarns.
Over the next few decades, my penchant for stranger storytelling went dormant, most of the time. It did, however, rear its head on my most recent vacation.
Hubs and I, grown sons and great friends went to our favorite Caribbean hideaway to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. One evening, after a bit of rum punch with some wine chasers, we all decided we needed aliases and cover stories to tell our fellow passengers on our sailing trip the next day. In our defense, there was a genesis for this decision, we had just been discussing the oddity of our friend’s mother’s name … Imogene Juanita. Not so bad, unless you have a brother Larry and sisters Betty and Patty. There has to be a story in that somewhere.
Son 2 loved the incongruity, and quickly decided he would be Guillermo, and his brother should be Steve, of course. Guillermo decided he was a salsa instructor, but someone pointed out what a bad dancer he was, so he became a volunteer salsa instructor. Steve didn’t participate much in the discussion, mostly rolling his eyes and attacking his lobster. We all came up with aliases and cover stories for ourselves, with dwindling amounts of amusement and/or success.
The next morning dawned painfully early, and some in our group were suffering from wine flu. I decided keeping all the stories straight was too much, so we would just go with Guillermo and Steve. Our fellow sailors consisted of a nice family from Long Island, with two daughters about Guillermo and Steve’s ages. We introduced ourselves, and I commented to my friend that I would never remember their names. She conveniently pointed out “Um, Lorrie and Bill, like your neighbors for over 20 years?” Oh, that Lorrie and Bill.
We all enjoyed an ideal morning of sun and sail, getting to know each other and enjoying the experience together. It’s now lunchtime on a beautiful beach, and I realize it is painful to continue to lie to people you really like. I confess everything! They immediately burst out laughing. Being storytellers as well, they had discussed amongst themselves the explanations as to why we would have a Guillermo and a Steve. Lorrie thought maybe Guillermo was adopted from Guatemala or somewhere at an age where he already knew his name, and we wanted him to be in touch with his cultural heritage. But she noted to me “I just couldn’t figure it out, though, because he looks just like you.” Bill chimed in “I thought maybe an affair when you took a trip to South America, but I was surprised your husband would let you pick an homage name.”
You say lying, I say storytelling, but whatever you call it, Lorrie and Bill’s backstories for Guillermo prove they are better at it than I am. I guess I just need a bit more practice. Did I ever tell you about the time I was forced to jump out of a plane?