Margo Freaks Herself Out

     This story is embarrassing to me, but I’m going to share it because the experience was constructive…and also funny.

     A few weeks ago, I mentioned to the Mathematician that I’d been hired at a new job. 

     “That’s great!  Congratulations!  What institution?”

     I froze.  One second.  Two.

     “(Hopelessly Irrelevant) Junior College!” I blurted.

    And here it is, the Awful Truth: I lied.

               *                     *                      *                      * 

     Let me explain my thought process. 

     I do not tell secret job clients about my other jobs, my academic work, where I went to school, or what I studied (or what neighborhood I live in and what state I come from, for that matter).  Or, rather, I don’t tell them the truth about these things. If they inquire–and I’m always surprised at how many are curious–I give them a story that is similar to the truth but not factual (the story is not embellished; I don’t try to make myself more interesting).  I do it because I have to protect my professional reputation (such as it is)…and, to some extent, to protect myself psychologically.  The nature of this work can be very intimate, but the men are still essentially strangers to me, and it is unwise to give strangers personal information about oneself. 

    The Mathematician, though, was no stranger.  He’d stopped being a stranger a long time ago.  I’d told him many true things about myself–even intimate things, things that only people close to me know. I told him that lie after we had sex but before  I stopped taking his money.  I didn’t think of him as a client and hadn’t in some time…but that’s how I met him, and there’s no getting around it.

    When he asked me where I was hired, I froze.  I registered the cognitive dissonance, but there wasn’t time to think about my feelings and our relationship and what was morally correct (and, interestingly, I cannot believe that I hadn’t prepared myself for that inevitable question from him far, far in advance.  I’m usually very good about that).  I had to make my decision in two seconds.  

     Instinctively, I resorted to my default behavior: I lied. 

                     *                             *                                * 
     It was the first lie I’d told him since I invited him into my home and started developing feelings for him.  When we first met, I told him the same cover-your-ass quasi-lies I tell all clients (the Surgeon and I didn’t know each other’s real names for over six months), but the first time I had him over and we went out to dinner, I told him the truth.  There’s still a lot–a lot–he doesn’t know about me (the Surgeon, alcoholism, raging sadomasochism, and a still-unresolved eating disorder spring to mind), but that’s okay because our relationship has not reached a stage where it’s healthy and normal to share serious baggage like that.  

     I realized almost immediately that the lie was a really bad idea, because I felt guilty about it.  I’ve also been trying–truly trying–to treat this man in an honorable fashion, because he’s special and I don’t want to fuck it up.  If things don’t work out between us then it won’t work out, but I’m determined that if it doesn’t work out, it’s not going to be because of some bullshit dishonest behavior or sabotage on my part. 

      The also understood that the lie was a bad idea because it was stupid.  It’s dangerous and imprudent to tell lies which are easily exposed. It’s like posting old, unrepresentative photos of your online dating profile–you can’t pull it off.  You will be busted.  And when you are busted, your date is going to be pissed.  

                    *                       *                                     * 

      Fast-forward a week: the Mathematician asks me when I start my new job.

      Arrrgh!  I couldn’t remember when the new semester started at the fake school I told him about! 

      I frantically did the numbers in my head and announced a date that I hoped to God would be a Monday. 
     He looked at me.  

     I swear to God, gentle reader: his face changed.  I saw it. 

    “What did you say?” he asked.  “(Fake Date)?”

     “Yup!  (Fake Date).” 

     “Oh.”  He looked troubled.

      I changed the subject.

     But a few hours later, I was convinced I’d been caught.  

     (Continued later–I have to run to work!) 

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