I cannot tell a lie

I cannot tell a lie. Not a fib, falsehood, untruth, tall tale, or fabrication.  Don’t bother to ask me to get someone to their surprise party under false pretenses because I won’t be able to pull it off. I’ve tried – believe me I have.   I’m a complete & utter failure when it comes to fibbery (ok, I can’t lie but I can make up words…I wonder if that’s a form of a linguistics lie? Hmmmmm….).

It’s not virtue – it’s the result of thick, white tights.

When I was younger – in 2nd grade, we lived in the village of Shoreham on Long Island (New York).  It was a lovely quaint village ‘burb. Where kids played outside, we had block parties; Moms’ had coffee klatches and played Mahjong…very Erma Bombeck.  And, because it was a village – it was small.  We all knew one another.

As I mentioned, I was in 2nd  grade and my brother was in 6th; we went to the same school, Miller Ave Elementary School.  Every day when school let out, I had to go over to the 6th grade area and wait for my brother to walk home with me.  I liked being around the ‘big’ kids. I fancied myself very mature, even then.  Often times, the 6th grade boys would arm-wrestle with me – and let me win.  So everyone knew I was James’ little sister.

One cold day, I had to go to school in dress with awful thick white tights.  I hated thick white tights. I still hate thick white tights. I will always hate thick white tights.

During lunch recess, I had to go the restroom and I was in the 6th grade area for some reason that I cannot fully remember all these years later.  The bathroom was filled with the ‘big’ girls from my brother’s grade. I knew who they were – I had nothing to fear.  I thought.

I came out of the stall and washed my hands. I heard some sniggling but didn’t think for a moment it was aimed at me.  I walked out of the bathroom into the hallway and a few of the girls followed out after me – they were laughing, chanting, and pointing. Pointing at ME! Chanting at ME! Laughing at ME!  Horror of horrors, my skirt was tucked into my thick white tights.  I was so embarrassed that I fled the hallway area and ran into the bathrooms in the 2nd grade area. I went into the stall and whipped off those awful tights. I formulated a plan in my mind…I would go to the administrative office and call my mom and have her pick up these god awful thick white tights.

I crept along slowly to the office hoping that the recess bell would not ring. I asked the secretary if I could call my mother because I had ripped my tights and needed new clothes.  Lie #1. She looked up and asked if Mr. Schwartz, my teacher, had given me permission to call my mom.  “Yes,” I said, “he did.”  Lie #2.  So far so good. Just a small ball of lead in my belly.  No one was the wiser. I called my mom and asked if she could bring me a shirt and pants because I was having trouble with my tights.  I waited in the office – Mom came (we lived 2 blocks away) – I changed my clothes. It was alright.  Mom left. The lead ball was a little smaller.

I made my way out of the administration office into the main hall – and coming towards me was Mr. Schwartz and most of the kids in my 2nd grade class.

Let me tell you a little about Mr. Schwartz.  I idolized him. He was the first male teacher I’d ever experienced and he was everything a teacher should be.  He had been to a place called Africa as part of something called the “The Piece Core” – I had no idea what that actually meant…nor that I was ‘seeing’ the wrong words in my mind…but it was exotic. He showed us pictures of exotic animals and exotic people…and they were NAKED from the waist up. YES! NAKED PEOPLE! [Ok, they were riding an elephant, and the woman was pressed up against the man in front so we didn’t actually see anything inappropriate – but we knew they had no tops on.] And he brought us in things like coconuts to try, and he read us stories in a loft in the classroom.  Everything that I loved about school was enhanced in Mr. Schwartz’ classroom.

So I am watching Mr. Schwartz and a cadre of kids approaching me. The ball of lead in my belly is growing. Mr. Schwartz looks decidedly unhappy.  He looks at me and my new clothes and asks why I’ve changed.  I was unable to neither look him in the eye nor speak loudly enough for him to hear me.  He knelt down and asked if I’d told the secretary that he had given me permission to call my mother.  I had to confess to my lie – I was filled with shame and humiliation. I remember Mr. Schwartz on one knee with his hands on my shoulders asking me if I’d lied and I remember all my friends huddled around me.  I started to cry. I couldn’t help myself. I had let Mr. Schwartz down.  He squeezed my shoulders reassuringly but I was still humiliated.  Then my friend, a neighborhood kid, Mark Maschette, put his arm around me and told me it would ‘be alright’.  That scene is forever  etched in my brain.

From that moment on – lying has been something that I cannot do.  And I cannot abide lying as well.

What’s kind of funny is that the girls’ teasing me, my mom being angry with me, and everyone seeing me cry did not impact me like knowing that Mr. Schwartz was upset with me because I lied.

Thank you Mr. Schwartz.

In Memoriam
SCHWARTZ – Jack, of Shoreham, on March 19, 2012, after 62 years of life. Devoted husband to Mary; loving father to Mathew and David and their wives, Rebecca and Emily; beloved son of Harriet Fidel-man; enamored “gramps” to five. Educator, fisherman, artist. Jack, longtime principal of Shoreham-Wading River’s Miller Ave. Elementary School, was a fierce advocate for children. 

                                                Published in Newsday on March 22, 2012
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About Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher

I'm a research librarian for Public Television, story teller, bike commuter, baker, music fiend, lover of reading & books, mother, wife, friend - and many more descriptive adjectives and nouns.
This entry was posted in Humor, Lying, Random Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to I cannot tell a lie

  1. Paul says:

    Great story!

  2. Mrs. P says:

    Beautiful story…beautiful writing!

  3. List of X says:

    Mr. Schwartz have taught you well.
    Not a chance that you’d be elected to any political office, even if it is people like you who are really the ones we need there.

  4. omg – i just welled up.

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  7. Jen Anderson says:

    What a sweet story. If it’s any consolation, we often just wore socks with our catholic school uniform skirts (picture the ugliest plaid you can imagine, then go uglier). This left the door wide open for my undies falling down (busted elastic) as I was getting off the bus on the way home to lunch. Now picture a busload of kids pointing and laughing.

    So I can totally lie, but I’m going nowhere near a pair of undies with iffy elastic.

    • Oh that would be a hard one to live down… did you have to move schools? 🙂 I’m lucky my Mom didn’t go Catholic School on me (she LOVED Catholic school) – I’d have had many a falling out with my clothing on a regular basis.

      Iffy elastic will get you every time. My skirt once fell off in the middle of the cheese section at the grocery store at 1AM (why I was shopping, I have no idea)…but I was thinking that only freaks shop this late…then my skirt fell off and low & behold, I was the freak.

  8. Pingback: I Feel For My Mother – Daily Prompt Repost | The Mercenary Researcher

  9. rlwyattcali says:

    Much better than a switch on the legs from my dad for lying. Your ‘tighty whities’ would have come in handy! 😉 Nice job

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  11. The Waiting says:

    This was wonderful. I bet even the most seasoned little liars had a hard time lying to Mr. Schwartz. He sounds like he was a truly wonderful person.

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  13. Kylie says:

    Ah… so you, too, are compulsively honest AND you have some words I’ll have to add to my Fictionary (linguistic lies–ha!): iration, what else??

    Mean 6th grade girls!

    Here’s my take on not being able to tell a lie: http://thelifeofkylie.com/2012/05/06/compulsively-honest/

  14. becca3416 says:

    I wonder if teachers like that still exist. I hope they do. I really do hope.

  15. Wonderful post. I love memories. Piece Core…that was my fave. Teachers who truly open up your world past the classroom are a gift. Thanks for this story!!

  16. Storkhunter says:

    This post made me go awwwww and cry a little. Yes, the pants in tights thing is awful (I recently had a skirt in pants episode, read about it http://storkhunting.com/2012/11/09/indecent-advice-or-dont-let-me-display-my-wares/), but it was Mr Schwartz who moved me. He sounds like a great teacher, we need more of those.

  17. Beautiful post Ruta- great lesson and a lovely tribute.
    Hope you’ve been doing well!

  18. I Loved this. Mr. Schwartz sounds like he was an incredible teacher and human being. Great memory. The tights… I can relate. 😉

  19. Reblogged this on The Mercenary Researcher and commented:

    In honor of Bloggers for Movember, I’m reblogging this post in honor of the best teacher I ever had who died suddenly and far too soon. This is for you Mr. Schwartz.

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  22. Dawn Nunn says:

    This is very sweet. I’m sure he is happy to know he made an impact on you. That is every teacher’s wish. Now, I’m waiting for a post about 5th grade teachers!

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  24. This made me cry! First, the thought of you wearing white tights is heartbreaking. Second, I’d beat up anyone who made fun of you (even children). Third, your teacher sounds like a wonderful man.

  25. Thanks Little D ~ it means a lot to me!

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