When my brother and I were young, my brother got his mouth washed out with soap for lying. I don’t remember the lies he told, just that he lied like a skater gliding on ice.
My brother’s misfortunes taught me to save my lies. Like the evening I was applying makeup and my mother appeared in the bathroom door. “Have you been driving around Peoria with Black Guys?” She demanded. The Maybelline wand in my right hand continued applying mascara. I did not blink or flinch. “No,” I said. “Where’d you get that idea?”
For years I wondered how she knew about Babs and Jill and I driving about town crammed in Bab’s brother’s Camaro with two Bradley Basketball stars. One day years later when my dad was visiting Mom in the memory home, I went to the basement to snoop. In the three-drawer file cabinet I found a file with my name on it. In it were receipts for my college loan, letters I had written Mom and Dad, and a legal sized envelop from my childhood friend’s mother in Los Altos, California. In the envelop was a 16-page-handwritten letter I’d sent to Lisa my pen-pal describing the long-ago night in question. The night the five of us drove around Peoria smoking pot and cigarettes while listening to Earth Wind and Fire.