Honesty is the Best Policy? (A Chuck Wendig Challenge)

Posted: October 9, 2015 in chuck wendig challenge
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This week’s Chuck Wendig challenge– a bit of creative non-fiction.

Once upon a time, I was a teenager in New York. I lived out in the suburbs, not far from the city, but far enough that to get to high school on the Upper East Side, I had to take Metro North. It was about a forty minute ride out from the city to my stop, so I usually spent most of it reading, or, on occasion, actually doing my homework.

Even though I went to a Catholic (Jesuit at that) high school, there was no uniform per se. The requirements were limited to dress slacks, a collared shirt, and shoes that were definitely not sneakers. As a result, it could be difficult to identify someone as going to my school simply by what they were wearing.

One afternoon, on my way home, I was sitting across from a very attractive young woman. Now, I went to an all-male high school targeted for what these days we would call “talented and gifted.” All that to say my comfort level around the opposite sex was fairly non-existent and previous experience told me that finding a girl who was interested in me would be like finding a unicorn. (Okay, okay, not a completely fair assessment, but to my poor fragile high school male ego it certainly seemed that way).

So imagine my surprise when she looked at me and said, “Hello.”

“Hello,” I replied, perhaps a touch warily.

“How’s it going?” she asked.

“Pretty well. How are you?” See, I wasn’t totally devoid of social graces.

“Good. Are you in college?” Somehow, someway, I was convinced this was a simple casual conversation. My older, future self begins to face palm right about now.

“No, I’m still in high school.” What? Why would you answer that? I mean honesty is the best policy, most of the time, but come on!

“Oh, when do you graduate?”

Before my higher brain functions could successfully take over my mouth, my mouth was already moving, already answering. “In about two years.”

Done. Shut down. End of conversation. I could have answered pretty much anything within a year and probably been doing all right. Sure, my deception might have leaked at some point, but would that little white lie have hurt so much?

Maybe. Possibly. But damn, I don’t think I’ve ever torpedoed myself so badly.

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