Family trips to Acadia National Park were my life growing up. I never remember stepping foot out of Maine unless it was for a basketball tournament. Maine has everything you could ever want as a kid for summer vacation: lakes, sunshine, mountains, and places to dirty up your knees.
One summer trip even taught me how to tell a real lie and as a result, I learned I preferred being honest.
The aforementioned trip was back in fifth or sixth grade and we were just finishing up cruising down Cadillac Mountain. I put my arm out the window of our family Oldsmobile to make it fly in the passing wind (oh you know what I’m talking about) and then… that’s when things get foggy. Next thing I am positive about is a blue car and a middle aged couple pulled up beside my father’s open window and yelled through the passing wind that “the kid in the back” had just given them the middle finger.
Thinking back on the incident, I am not entirely sure that I committed the crime in question. At the time, my father was a very scary man; though not a physical threat to me in any way, he had a temper. To this day he is the loudest person I have EVER met. My sister’s window had been up the whole drive so my dad’s wild eyes turned to me in the rear view mirror and I immediately put on the “what are you TALKING about face,” (you know the one. Where you look like you simultaneously smell something horrendous and are also squinting at something in the distance), “Dad, I was just wiggling my fingers in the wind. Maybe he thought he saw something he didn’t.”
Not entirely convinced, dad said something threatening like, “ya, you better not have,” and promised to discuss it again when we got home. Back at home I was able to maintain my story and the fact that my father was unimpressed by the way the man told him to “pay attention to his kids in the back,” I knew I was safe. Separately my sister, who is five years older than me, questioned me and I still denied it.
Did I mention this trip to Acadia was a yearly thing? So every summer, for the next five or six years, one of my family members would feel nostalgic as we drove down the mountain and bring up the finger wiggling incident. So over the years I was forced to save face and laugh along with them. To this day I’m not 100% sure I flipped that guy the bird (I probably did) but regardless, my father, over 10 years later, is none the wiser.
This might be one of the first and last big lies I ever told and stuck to. I remember being so stressed about it in the days and weeks following that I almost lost my mind. I wondered how people could keep telling lies and continue to live a normal life.
I am paying for that lie. Ever since that day I developed all the symptoms of a bad liar: the look away, a red face, guilt lump in the throat, or just plain giving up all too soon (“ALL RIGHT! The truth is…”). I always feel that, at some point, the other person will find out and the lie would never be worth it in the first plac