A harmless little lie


Every Sunday morning Preacher Jim said that confession was good for one’s soul. Well, he’s gonna love this column because I’m not confessing once; I’m confessing three times.
Growing up at 110 Flamingo Street, my mom always told us that lying wasn’t allowed in our house – harmless or otherwise. Even so, it still occurred and my parents always knew when one was told.

They didn’t have to be skilled about detecting deceit. With five kids, they just waited for us to rat each other out – which we usually did. Then it would be a fate worse than death. It was a march to the upstairs bathroom, open wide and bite a bar of soap. Mom said that the dirty lie had to be washed out. Why mom thought lies were always dirty, I don’t really know.

Yep, barbaric by any measure today, it seemed like a weekly occurrence on Flamingo Street.

Back then, my brothers, sister and me, we told enough lies to keep the Ivory Soap Company in business. But only three were ever told that fell in the harmless lie category. For you see, to be considered a harmless lie it had to be kept a secret and no one could ever know the truth. And even at 84, dad still hasn’t found out about those three. That is until now.

Around Flamingo Street, Preacher Jim was well-known for his powerful sermons. He was also well-known for their length. Growing up, it seemed the hardest thing to do was stay awake in the little white church on the corner. Somehow sitting down in a pew was just the same as taking a sleeping pill that took effect around the middle of his sermon.

To counteract this powerful sedative, Dad sandwiched us five kids between him and mom. That way we were always within easy reach if wiggling or dozing occurred. A quick head pop from Dad’s ring, or a leg pinch from Mom and we usually could make it through the service without any embarrassing moments. Except that one summer when the church air conditioning broke.

In my defense, a longer than normal sermon, 90 degrees, and no air conditioning I really didn’t have a chance. To make matters worse, in the middle of the sermon, Dad got up to use the restroom.

That left me on the inside of the aisle with Big Brother Richard next to me. I quickly dozed off, and Richard gave me a gently nudge. Next thing I knew I was face down in the center aisle.

Now fully awake, lying right in front of Preacher Jim and Dad returning from the bathroom, I took my only option. I stood up and yelled, “Amen”!

Stopped in his tracks, Dad and the entire congregation repeated, “AMEN!” From that moment on, my parents were convinced that I was the most religious kid on Flamingo Street. During any of Preacher Jim’s sermons, whenever I leaned forward, head in hands, my parents believed I was in deep thought. When in reality, I was in deep sleep.

So what of the other two harmless lies told while living at 110 Flamingo Street? The two lies that Dad still doesn’t know about?

I can assure you, if he found out, they would no longer be harmless. I would immediately be marched upstairs to the bathroom, told to open wide, and have to bite that bar of Ivory Soap.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for over 26 years and a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is saferick@bellsouth.net. His books are available at www.RickRyckeley.com.]