It’s kinda like gray being the new black but more fucked up.
My first experience with a person who used bullshit as their own reality was in the third grade. Her name was Carla. I won’t give her last name even though she is one of only about three kids I remember from grade school. There was also Lisa and Jay, both of whom smelled like urine….always.
I was envious of Carla’s page-boy haircut and freckled nose. She was darling. I can still see her. She did not smell like urine.
But she did have a dark side.
I remember being profoundly puzzled by Carl and her strange, manipulative behavior.
Funny how childhood lessons suddenly come flooding back when you’re faced with the adult version.
It takes on a more disturbing tone when you’re older. You know what I mean.
She was just like the rest of us, I thought. None of us kids had money or family with money or friends with money or friends of friends with money (except cousins of my father who ran a farm implements company rumored to have had money despite the fact they never wore anything that didn’t have an Oshkosh B’Gosh label on it). We were accustomed to never asking for anything because we knew we couldn’t have it. On the rare occasion that I DID ask, my mother threatened to pull out the infamous “ledger” to show me just how hard it was to raise 4 kids and there wasn’t anything more boring to an 8-year-old than looking at a bunch of numbers in a 3-ring binder. My mother knew how to shut us down.
The only claim to fame I had as a little kid – besides brick rather than ply-wood on the front of our house – was a green stingray bike (not a Schwinn) and anything that the great outdoors had to offer which was free. This made it all the more fascinating when Carla claimed to have the latest Barbie Dream House and an Easy-Bake Oven. She knew I lusted after the Easy Bake Oven with its tiny little cake mix and single, bright lightbulb that gave it delicious, gold-brown life. I don’t know why I was so fascinated by this invention but I was and obviously made that known throughout the halls of Rosewood School.
If only I had an Easy Bake Oven. How grand life would be!
And there-in lies the problem.
Carla promised to give me her Easy Bake Oven. All I had to do was come to her house and play.
You have got to be fucking kidding!! (of course I didn’t use the F word since the only curse word I knew in 3rd grade was “hell” but if I were in third grade today, I would probably use the F word)
After the choruses of Ode to Joy faded away, I remember thinking this was odd because I would have gone to her house to play even without the toy bribe but this offer was beyond my wildest dreams!. Can’t blame a kid for caving to temptation….every good pervert through the centuries knows that, right? Obviously, Carla was no pervert but you get what I’m saying. I also asked myself how all this wealth had been so well hidden for so long. Hmmmm.
So off I went to Carla’s undoubtedly palatial estate that had mysteriously escaped detection in our metropolis of 15,000.
It was not what I expected.
Carla lived in a single-wide trailer.
Her parents were nowhere in sight.
She did not have an Easy Bake Oven nor a Barbie Dream House.
I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed but it was a profound day in my very young life.
It was when I learned that not everyone tells the truth.
It was when I learned that there are those who cannot see past their own desires and will do and say whatever it takes to get what they need be it friendship, money, recognition, a career.
For the record, Carla and I had a perfectly fun day doing what all small-town kids did in those days: making up stuff in the great outdoors and just being kids.
Lately, I’ve thought a lot about Carla and her need to tell such big lies at such an early age. It had to be more than a single-wide because none of us had a whole lot more than that and nobody cared. I wonder what deep and ugly place that need came from. Carla taught me the dark and pathetic side of lying that day and it stuck with me all my life.
Not long ago I saw a news segment about an author who wrote a book directed at recent college graduates. In a nut-shell it was about why one should lie to get ahead because if you don’t, the next person will…better you than them.
I do not understand this thinking.
I’ll tell you what else I don’t understand and that’s how that tiny lightbulb could actually bake a cake.