I never lie. Almost never. The problem with lying is that you often get caught, for a variety of reasons. But sometimes you have to lie, you just have to, to save your life or protect your reputation or get out of an embarrassing situation. Or something.
I was sitting in Carrie’s Coffeehouse reading a magazine and having a latte on a sunny spring day. Then Dorothea walked in. I tried to hide behind my magazine.
“Sophie, is that you? It’s me, Dorothea. Take your head out of that magazine.”
“What? Oh, hi, Dorothea.”
“OK if I sit down?”
I had to think quickly. “Actually, I’m waiting for someone.”
“Anyone I know?”
“Oh, I doubt it. He’s in my Philosophy 101 class.”
“Name?” Again, I had to think fast. “Tony.” I repeated his name as if trying to convince myself that somehow a guy named Tony would walk into the coffee shop in the next minute. Or second.
Dorothea sat down in the chair opposite mine. The nerve! “I’ll just wait until this Tony shows up. I want to see if he’s real.”
“Why wouldn’t he be real?”
“Because you don’t go out much.”
“Well, neither do you.”
“We’re a couple of losers, I guess.”
“Speak for yourself!” She laughed at my remark.
“So what time is Tony arriving?”
“Oh, he should be here soon.” I was so hoping that someone would call me on my cell and I could pretend to answer and I would have a conversation with the nonexistent Tony.
Dorothea went over to the counter to order. I quickly texted my mother. “Call me right away!” I wrote. Somehow I knew she wouldn’t see my message until it was too late. I started to imagine what I would say if someone called. “Hi. Sophie here. Tony? Hi, Tony. I’m here at Carrie’s waiting for you. You can’t come? Your friend’s in the ER? I’m so sorry. No, that’s fine. It’s OK. Just call me when you can and we’ll reschedule.”
While this imaginary telephone call was going round in my head, Dorothea returned. “Boy, you seem to be focused on something. What’s up?”
“So have you been here a while? Carrie said you’ve been sitting here for at least thirty minutes, and she didn’t know anything about a date.”
“Why should Carrrie know what I’m doing?”
“Oh, she knows everything that goes on here.”
I was stuck. My mom hadn’t called me back. No Tony was going to arrive at the coffee shop. Dorothea would know that I either didn’t have a date and was lying to get rid of her, which was true, or she would think I’d been stood up, which was untrue. Which was worse?
The door to the coffee shop opened, and in walked a young man. Not particularly handsome, but not so bad either. About my age, I suspected. The thing is, I sized him up in a nanosecond, jumped up, ran over to him, and put my arms around his neck.
“You’re late, but it’s OK,” I yelled, and then I whispered, “Just fake it, please.”
I still had two problems. I had to tell him my name, and I had to let him know that his name was now Tony, regardless of whatever it had been before. Then I looked around and saw that Dorothea had already taken her cappuccino to a seat near a window on the other side of the coffee shop. That way she could look out of the window, or at the two of us, depending on her level of nosiness.
At least I had time to explain, and I had money if I needed to bribe this guy. He smiled at me and put his arms around my waist.
“So good to see you again, Tony,” I said while staring at him and hoping he wouldn’t blow it.
“Great to see you too,” he said, and laughed as he bent to kiss me–while stepping on my foot.