I've been playing Two Truths and a Lie with my kids at school. Do you know this game? You tell three things about yourself, two of which are true and one of which is a lie. (Which I'm sure you probably figured out two sentences ago, but I like to be thorough). Then everyone tries to figure out which of the things is the lie. The one I use with my students goes:
a) I used to have a dog named Oscar.
b) I spent my last birthday in Iceland.
c) I got my first cell phone when I was 22.
And as unlikely a birthday destination as Iceland is, my students never, ever get this one right, because in their minds, to have spent twenty-two years without ever once sending a text message is so unthinkable that it cannot possibly be true. And then I tell them that seven years ago cell phones weren't as common as they are now, and then I feel old. And even though this exercise brands me as both old and lame to today's youth, for some reason I continue to use this example, perhaps because I enjoy seeing the shocked expressions on their faces. Maybe next time I'll tell them about how I remember a time when there was no e-mail. Although it has since been brought to my attention that apparently no one e-mails anymore. Were you aware of this? That no one under the age of 20 e-mails anymore? So I guess I'll have to tell them instead about the time before there was MSN Messenger. The horror.
Not only does this game function as a fun and easy lesson plan, but it kept a couple of my colleagues and me thoroughly entertained during our hour-long evening commute. The fascinating thing about playing this game, I've found, is in discovering not what people choose to lie about, but in what they choose to reveal as true. Someone never sees his father. A black girl says she has white sisters. So-and-so hates such-and-such a teacher. An overweight colleague reveals his actual weight. Another colleague says when he was younger he once fainted after being startled by a loudly barking dog. A seventeen-year-old girl says she is engaged. It's almost an act of defiance, a gauntlet thrown. Go ahead, they seem to be saying. Tell me I'm lying. But for the most part, we don't. We walk carefully around the sticky issues, going for the easy answers. You hate chocolate; that's the lie, right? Has to be.
So give it a try the next time you're at a party, or seeing your shrink. Because it kind of works on both levels, doesn't it? For practice, here are some of mine. Let's see how well you know me! Leave your answers in the comments, if you want to play along. And leave two truths and one lie of your own, if you'd like, and we can see how well I know my readers! Or I'll just guess blindly. Either way can be fun.
So here we go, ten truths and five lies about me. Good luck!
1. a) I have a tattoo.
b) I once had a bad experience with some llamas.
c) I love artichokes.
2. When I was little I...
a) hated pancakes.
b) was scared of the tooth fairy.
c) wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.
3. I used to...
b) play ping-pong in a club.
c) do ballet.
4. a) My sister works in a bar.
b) I love anchovies.
c) I am a Taurus.
5. a) I've been to Yellowstone Park.
b) When I was little I had an iguana as a pet.
c) I think Tommy Lee Jones is hella sexy.