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The first lie I remember telling was to my grandmother over the phone, when I was maybe eight. Our cat had given birth to six kittens, I said. We didn’t even have a cat. She believed me, and when I passed the phone back to my mother, scolded her for being irresponsible enough not to spay it. My mother thought it was cute, I think. I wish I could remember why I did it.
In the third grade, I told the guidance counselor that I had four sisters, but they were all away at college. I also told her — I think at a different juncture — that I had a pet tarantula, that my brother and I shared a room, that we had run a strip of tape down the center of the floor to divide up the space. I got the latter details from a book I was reading at the time, although my brother is real. I don’t know if I still would have included him if the book hadn’t had a brother, too.
Some of these lies are easy to understand; I thought it would be cool to have a dangerous spider,...
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