My Name Is Domingo and I’m a Compulsive Liar
The first conversation I ever had with my girlfriend began with a lie.
It was the most electric conversation I’d had all year. I stood in the bathroom of a strange flat one night in late December with my phone nuzzling my right ear as a brief pause allowed in the muffled chatter from the main room. “Thirty-two,” I said. “Is that too old?” “No,” she replied. “What about you?” “Twenty-two,” came the voice down the phone. “Is that too young?” she asked. “No,” I said.
Much later, when I told my friends the story of how we met, and how at the end of our fourth date I came clean and she almost called the whole thing off, they showed no mercy. “Why would you lie by two years!” one of them cried. “At least go big,” said another. It had been a stupid little lie. But now that I think of it, my life has been devoured by stupid little lies. I’ve spent the last week wondering why. And my answer always comes back to the same thing.
I never lie because I don’t fear anyone. You only lie when you’re afraid. —John Gotti
Like everyone else, I was about three when I told my first lie. I don’t remember what it was; I wonder if it was any good. I’ve always been quite bad at lying — my shame would cry louder than my subterfuge and my technique started badly and stayed put. I imagine most lies children tell are a means to get out of trouble — more than likely this was the case with me.
Growing up, my father had the patience of a fart in a gale. He was old-school and bad-tempered and uninterested in the idiosyncrasies of young children. Anything that bothered him, which was everything, got us shouted out of the room and out of sight. The sound of his feet on the stairs is an enduring memory of my childhood, as if his presence meant my wrongdoing.
I tell him now and he laughs and calls me a snowflake. But the more I think about it, the more I put my habit of bending the truth down to my father’s anger. His moodiness instilled a fear of wrongdoing…