The first lie I remember telling – the first one with knowing, deceptive intent behind it (beyond just the white lie fibbing of telling Mom “no” when you did something wrong and you really did do it) – was sometime around second grade. I remember one of my classmates had a mini stapler in his art box, and I was somehow convinced I needed to have one too.
They sold them at the drugstore at the corner of my street, so I knew where to get one and how much it cost and everything. I told my mom I had to have one for school. I remember her being skeptical about the whole additional-item-that-wasn’t-on-the-original-school-supply-list story, but I tried to be as convincing as possible. My mom was a school teacher in the district, so I have to believe my naiveté emboldened me in my lying, otherwise I probably would never have attempted it.
I have fuzzy memories of my mom or dad talking about sending in a note to the teacher about why this mini stapler was necessary or some such, and me dancing around the issue telling them that a note wasn’t necessary and that I really just needed to get this stapler and couldn’t they just give me the money so I could go up to the drugstore and buy it myself and then everything will be fine. Please?
I did end up getting the mini stapler. What I didn’t realize was that the Swingline people had somehow conspired with my parents and found a way to cram a seemingly unending amount of catholic guilt into the box with it! I don’t remember if I have ever confessed to the con before now. It’s as likely that I cracked at some point shortly after acquiring the mini stapler as it is that this is the first time my parents are hearing about my scam. (Of course, being a parent now and having that instinct of knowing when your kid is trying to pull one over on you, I’d be pretty surprised if my parents didn’t at least suspect I was completely making shit up at the time.)
Regardless, the guilty echoes have always remained. (Why else am I writing about it over 30 years later?!) I wish I could remember why that mini stapler was so damn important to second grade me. Ultimately, I have to figure it probably wasn’t worth it.