I discovered at the tender age of five that I was in possession of a very vivid imagination. I never hung upside down on a jungle gym, but rather from a tight rope in the middle of a floating circus in the sky. Some may call this behavior suspect, but I see it as the beginnings of a fruitful pastime.
In any case, I had never realized the heights that my imagination could reach until I honed my powers into something productive. I discovered the little white lie. I started out relatively small: “No! Of course that dress doesn’t make you look like a hippopotamus with wooden legs.” Or, “Yes! I completely agree. ABBA is abba-solutely the epitome of musical genius.” However, my tiny (and might I say well-intentioned) fabrications were resolutely confined to my extracurricular career. I hadn’t yet discovered the power that would come with that most elusive of lies: the academic falsehood.
Perhaps I never found the need for lying in high school because I was relatively up front about my delinquent behavior. Late for math? “Sorry, my snooze button was looking good after I stayed up all night watching The Real Housewives of Orange County.” Didn’t show up to gym class? “I don’t do sneakers and sweatpants.” If anything, I was a compulsive truth-teller.
However, this all changed when I took up residence in West Philadelphia. All of a sudden, I was forced to be responsible and hand things in on time. I realized that my imagination might come in handy. When it came time to write my first college paper, I realized my full potential. Panicking when faced with a 9 a.m. hand-in time and only five hours in which to write, I decided to feign food poisoning and send myself to student health. I miraculously got away with it. This was where my fated and compulsive (academic) lying began. Ever since, I have been fundamentally incapable of handing anything in on time. My dogs have died, my turtles have had diarrhea, my grandparents have had hip replacements in Florida and I have had salmonella, bunion surgery, saved an old lady from a rampant bus and had an allergic reaction to leaves. Meanwhile, my papers have always been affected by these “sudden” tragipitous (tragic-serendipitous) moments. I very quickly realized that the more extravagant the lie, the easier it was to make it believable.
Despite the occasional mishap, I’ve managed to mostly get away with things. However, there are times when the absurdity of the lie evades me and I am blinded by my ingeniousness, despite its obviously illogical nature. Like the time my computer crashed just before class and deleted just the ONE file on my whole hard-drive: my take-home midterm. Needless to say, I was shocked when my professor politely asked me to leave class and to take my bullshit with me.
Of course, I do occasionally catch myself feeling like a terrible person. But then I make up a lie to make myself feel better, and it magically goes away.