British Top Ten Lies

MOLLY SCHOEMANN: British study, your ‘Top Ten Lies Told by Women’ list cut a little close to home for me. Please stop revealing my secrets.

For one thing, most if not all of the “lies” you listed are not really lies. Lies, with a Capital L, are what you tell your loved ones to keep your evil and deceitful house of cards from tumbling down around you. Not, “I bought it on sale.” That one is a fib, at best. Maybe you didn’t buy those pants on sale, but if they HAD been on sale, you would have bought them then too, right? So who’s really lying now? I vote the pants.

Also, thanks for cluing the world in on my favorite old standby, “I’m on my way.” Can this phrase ever truly be a lie? If your family thinks that you’re on your way to your little cousin’s graduation, but you are in fact on your way to the bar, is it your fault that if they are confused? “I’m on my way” has long been my favorite ambiguous phrase, because it contains a grain of truth, as all the best fibs do. After all, you’re always on your way to somewhere, even if it’s the fridge. Especially if it’s the fridge.

I am also chagrined to see the phrase, “Nothing’s wrong, I’m fine,” framed as a lie. This wonderful old chestnut is most certainly not a lie: It is a peacekeeper. It is like the UN of phrases. This little fib has saved me from more complicated, unnecessary discussions-likely-to-become-arguments than I can count. Its sanctity should be respected, not torn down. Because believe me, if I tell you nothing’s wrong, it means that you do not need to know what is actually wrong. Trust me, you’re better off. You may have figured out that something is in fact wrong, and that’s great. But leave it at that, or I will be likely forced to use another handy half-true statement which this BBC study has dragged out into the light of day, namely: “I didn’t have that much to drink.”

By the time you have to use this one, you’re generally already in trouble. Still, this phrase is also ambiguous enough to be considered under most circumstances to be a plausible half-truth. Depending of course on what your definition of ‘didn’t’, ‘have’, ‘much’ and ‘drink’ are. Since any and all of those words are obviously open to interpretation.

While I am not thrilled to see a collection of my favorite daily sayings paraded around as lies and treated without the dignity they deserve, deep down part of me is also delighted to realize that I am not the only woman out there who regularly relies on such phrases to grease the wheels of daily life and make things run a little smoother at home. Because of this knowledge and sense of solidarity with my sisterhood, I’ll have an extra twinkle in my eye the next time I tell my fiancé “No, I didn’t throw it away.”

AKIE BERMISS: There more I read studies from the UK, the more I become convinced that they are out of their minds over there.  I liked this articles, it was about an entertaining as the chain emails people used to kick around AOL back in the mid-90s.  In fact, it is basically one of those emails verbatim.  Remember those “Open This To Learn The 10 Lies YOUR Girlfriend Is Telling You”?  I read those at 15 and knew (even back then) that it was a stupid thing for anyone to write about.

As Molly says, these lies are hardly lies at all. If I had to call them anything I’d call them… “misdirections.”  These are the things you say in a relationship when you know that saying what is actual, completely and truly happening is not going to fly.  If anyone ever says to you “its just what I’ve always wanted”  – you can pretty much be sure they are returning whatever you gave them.  When you DO give somebody something they wanted or needed, you know what they usually say?  Thank you.

If someone is running late — and you KNOW they are running late because you are waiting for them somewhere — why are you even asking them where they are?  They are running late!  Well if you ask them where they are, what do you expect them to say?  ”I’m on my way!”  Yes — of course.  You’d have to be a real dick to say to someone “I’m still sitting here… I really don’t care about getting there on time.”  When I call someone who is running behind I ask them: “Are you on your way?”  And we cut through all the BS.

You see, as far as I’m concerned, a lie is what you tell people when you are deliberately trying to keep the truth from them.  If you walk into a room and I’m standing over a bloody corpse and you ask me what happened and I say: “I didn’t kill him!”  That’s a lie.  Yeah — I CLEARLY killed him.  I am lying to you now because I do not what you to know the truth.  If, on the other hand, you are waiting for me outside of a movie theater and you call me and I just happen to be standing over a freshly dead corpse and you ask me where I am… and I answer: “I’m on my way.  That’s not a lie.  Its misdirection.  If I’d wanted to give you the full run-down, I could have said: I’m standing over the body of a dude I just killed.  I need to dispose of the body in my backyard, jump in the shower, and then I’ll meet you at the theater.  Maybe we should get tickets to a later show…”

Well, that’d be the straight-up honest truth, wouldn’t it?  But I figure you don’t really NEED to know about the dead guy.  You’re concerned about my punctuality for our date.  And so I’m going to tell you what is not necessarily true, but not necessarily false: I’m on my way.

If these are the 10 most told lies by men and women, then the UK is in great shape.  Just a bunch of trivially late, somewhat upset, slightly over-consumerist people.  They’re not at all dishonest… just pleasantly evasive.  And — come to think of it — that does sort of sound like the image of the UK I carry around in my head.

(Meanwhile, my idea of a real British lie is more like BP telling everyone in the gulf of Mexico that they’ve got everything under control… oh and its only like 1,000 barrels of oil we’re spewing into the ocean… um… per day…)

Well good, then!  Carry on, my friends.  Tell your little “fibs” to each other.  And when you ready to find out what real lying sounds like — you can give us a call and we’ll bullshit you ’til kingdom come.

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