First, the promise, then the breaking of it

When my parents came down to visit a few weeks ago, my mom brought a copy of Good Housekeeping with her. In it was an article written by a woman who was trying not to tell any lies — little, white or otherwise — for a full week.

I’ll admit it: I scoffed at that author. Turned up my nose. Maybe even snorted.

See, I’ve droned on to my husband — to the point of boredom, really — about my goal to "live honestly." Part of my aim as a writer, for instance, is to always tell the truth no matter how ugly it is. If you’ve read about my zits, you know all too well what I’m talking about.

After reading the Good Housekeeping article, though, I thought it would be fun to do my own experiment — to see how honestly I’m really living by tracking, for one day, the number of times I lied.

I chose an easy day for my research. It was last Friday, a day my husband stayed home from work to hang with our boys so I could write. I mean, how hard would it be to tell the truth when I was alone most of the day?


You’d be surprised.

Lie No. 1

"Goodbye! Have fun!" I hollered as the three men in my life left for the 10:45 a.m. showing of "Monsters vs. Aliens." "I’ll be writing, writing, writing while you’re gone!"

As soon as they pulled out of the driveway, I hit my laptop … to update my Facebook status, check my e-mail, and, umm, feed my Webkinz. If you don’t know what Webkinz is, you’re just going to have to look it up because I’m not telling you. It’s too embarrassing of a thing for a 37-year-old mother of two to admit.

Lie No. 2

Two hours later, I really was deep into an assignment when the phone rang. It was a telemarketer trying to get me to try a new service — free for 30 days.

"Jennifer Kooski isn’t here," I answered. "This is the babysitter."

I’m so used to using this line that I didn’t even realize I had lied until I hung up.


(Almost) Lie No. 3

After the Kooski call, I did a quick check of Facebook (mark my words, there will be a 12-step program for this in the near future) and my friend Lisa caught me with the instant message feature.

"Are you swimming today?" she asked.

"Yes," I answered. "I’m going to do 10 laps." And then I decided I’d better change the day’s plans to work in a trip to the pool.

Lie No. 4

This one was an honest mistake — and, really, when you think about it, more of a time management issue than an outright lie.

"Are you ready to go to the gym?" my husband asked when he and the boys got home from a trip to the library.

"I just need half-an-hour to finish up this assignment," I said.


Roughly 75 minutes later, I grudgingly got up from my computer. Work always takes longer than I think it will.

Lies No. 5 and No. 6

My final lies of the day were to myself — but they’re ones I tell every evening, so I no longer take offense. They’re really more of a formality at this point. They go like this: I’m not going to eat candy after 10 p.m., and I’m going to bed early — for real this time.

When I finally shuffled off to bed at 1 a.m. with a jelly-bean headache, I assessed the day’s indiscretions. I wasn’t the model of honesty I’d hoped to be, but I wasn’t so bad, either.

I consoled myself by thinking that maybe some lies are unavoidable — harmless, even. After all, even Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies."

Jennifer Koski is a freelance writer in Rochester. Her column appears Wednesdays. Send comments to

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