Pants on Fire, Part 2

The Next Family

By: Ann Brown

I hear that Margaret Cho was kicked off Dancing With The Stars this week. I wouldn’t know; I do not watch that show.

If you detected a bit of smug superiority in my last statement, it’s because I am totally feeling it. I eschew DWTS; I watch MSNBC. And I eat tofu. Oh, and I compost.

Being awesome is Job One for me.

It’s a burden to be fabulous, let me tell you. You have to lie a lot, and you have to keep track of your lies even when you have been mixing your Xanax with brandy and people are asking you a lot of confusing questions at parties.

See, there’s a lie right there: I don’t even drink brandy. I don’t go to parties. I drink at home, alone. Sangria and rum. Or is it cranberry, tonic and vodka?

Now I can’t remember. Damn. I knew a lifetime of lying was going to catch up with me sooner or later.

No, that’s not true. I didn’t know it.

Fuck. I can’t stop.

What I really hate, however, is when I am NOT lying but it sounds as if I am. You spend, oh, 56 years lying about everything and all of a sudden people don’t believe you when you tell them that you have a sore throat and you feel a little canker sore coming on and that’s why you are not attending their wedding. Or visiting them in Paris. Or answering your phone ever.

A few days ago, I opened my son’s mail by mistake. It was addressed to my oldest son, the one who lives in another town, but the envelope came to our house and it looked just like the envelopes I get my paycheck in and my reading glasses were nowhere to be found (hanging on the neck of my blouse, I later discovered, just inches from my face) and I was about to leave the house to go to the bank anyway and, well, I opened it. So sue me, I say. Which is kinda ironic because my son is a lawyer.

I called him to tell him that I accidentally opened a piece of his mail. Because he is sweet, he accepted my explanation but even through the telephone lines, I saw the look of doubt in his eyes. He’s had to play Ethel to my Lucy in too many of my hairbrained capers, had to hit the lights and hide behind the couch too many times when the doorbell rang and I didn’t want to have to put on a bra and see anyone, he’s had to stand right smack dab in front of me and say into the phone, “no, my mom’s not here. She’s left and no one knows when she’ll be back”; he knows what I am capable of.

But here’s what he doesn’t know:

He doesn’t know that when he was in third grade, I was nervous about sending him on a class trip to the beach and I was too lazy to be one of the parent chaperones, so on the morning of the trip I told him he had a fever of 102 and spots on his tonsils. And at 5:00 that afternoon, I told him that he had a miraculous recovery because I wanted to go to Sizzler for dinner that night.

He doesn’t know that when he was almost two years old and still not walking, I used to make up all kinds of excuses to people about it, including thinly-veiled references (cue lightning bolt) to polio. Yeah, you don’t have to tell me that Jonas Salk brought us the vaccine in 1952; what matters is no one bothered to fact check my lies. Buyer beware.

He doesn’t know that I used his Bar Mitzvah money as my personal ATM for years. Frugal and trusting as he is, that cash just sat in the second-to-the-top drawer of his dresser calling my name. I always repaid the kitty and when I didn’t, I always left a little IOU note. Yes I did. Signed, Robin. My second son, watching and learning, kept moving his Bar Mitzvah money around, laundering it, planting counterfeit bills in his desk drawer and keeping a pack of rabid Doberman Pinschers at his bedroom door.

My oldest doesn’t know that when he was really young, I would rewrap his Hanukah gifts from the first three nights and give them back to him on the last three nights. My younger son got the discarded wrapping paper and ribbon for the first two Hanukahs of his life.

And once, while the oldest was napping in the car, I drove through McDonalds and got him some drek plastic Happy Meal toy for a dollar and wrapped it up that night for his Hanukah present. And I ate the fries on the drive home.

Miraculously, he didn’t turn out to be a mother-hating anti-Semite. Just a lawyer. Ha ha ha, see how I used humor to diffuse a snarky statement? This is the cornerstone of my awesome parenting.

Robin never lies. And my kids never lie. So it occurs to me that perhaps my lying – as it was with my incorrigible potty mouth – has served as a powerful cautionary tale for my family, resulting in my unwittingly raising fine, upstanding, truth-telling men who speak the King’s English even when they step in dog poop.



What a totally, unbefuckinglievably awesome way for me to be.

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