Growing up I had a good friend who lied. Kay, who grew up on the poorer side of town, or the wrong side of the tracks if you will, would lie saying that her family had all these cool possessions like a limo. Kay even told us that her uncle was buried in the wall of her house, that is why the plaster and paint were cracked. Of course then there was the big screen TV. None of it was true. Her family had no money whatsoever and they were on and off of welfare. However the lies got so bold and so big that when we were in fifth grade we disfriended her for a time. My mother, angered, explained we couldn’t just disfriend her because she was friends with her aunt. Still, the lying was just too much for all of us. We didn’t care that she was poor and had no money. At the moment I am poor and have no money. What irked us was how she lied and the frequency of it. My folks at the time sided with her because they hated my other friend Erica thinking she was a bad influence and this whole thing was her idea. So we made up with Kay.
Unfortunately we thought this would teach Kay not to be such a liar. Boy were we wrong. In middle school she joined the football team and at the time I had a public access television show. Kay came on the show and lied about starting and said she was the quarterback. Everyone in her neighborhood, stoked that she was on TV, tuned in. Much to her misfortune, so did the coaches. They did not share appreciation for her imagination and made her run until apparently she puked her guts out. The truth of the matter was that Kay was not the quarterback nor did she start. As a matter of fact she sucked so terribly she was benched most of the time. While this was a doozy, I had to give her points for creativity.
We all knew Kay was a fibber but she was only getting started. Shortly after appearing on my TV show Kay called me apologizing for being scarce over the summer. I asked her why she had kept her distance and she told me it was because the little boy that her mother brought to the football games and said was her little brother was actually her son! My mouth dropped open. I asked who the father was because I had never seen her with a man. She explained his name was Andre and he was from the city. That explained everything, an evil city kid. Kay begged me not to tell anyone and I swore upon my own grave. However it irked at me and I told my mother who told me to be nice to Kay because odds are life wouldn’t and people obviously wouldn’t when they found out the truth.
A week and a half later a girl named Amanda who I was sometimes friends with sought me out. She asked me if it was true if Kay had a child. I didn’t know what to say and then Amanda informed me Kay had told her to ask me. I told her yes because Kay had sent her to me for confirmation. Well by the end of the week everyone was talking. I felt bad for Kay and tried to seek her out. Instead of crying or being mortified she didn’t seem to be bothered by the fact everyone was gossiping in our quiet little suburban high school about how she and the mysterious Andre made a baby.
Well my friend Erica, who had a love/hate relationship with Kay because of her lying streak, cornered me angrily before English class one day. “April, that kid is her baby brother.” Erica snapped.
“What?” I asked.
“Yes. I know this because I am her neighbor. My mother and I brought food to the house when we mother was in the hospital, in labor, and couldn’t cook. Kay answered the door because it was her and her two brothers home alone.” Erica said her face red with anger.
I rolled my eyes back. While Kay was a liar why would she lie about something like this? “Look, don’t kick her when she’s down.” I countered at my friend. “You hate her and now is not the time to throw daggers, okay?”
“April, she picked you because she knows you still sort of trust her. My mother is coming later to pick me up. Ask her. She’ll back me up.” Erica informed me.
Later that day Mrs. Robertson came to pick Erica up from school. She backed her daughter’s story shaking her head. “I don’t know what Kay hopes to accomplish out of this, but it is pretty sick and I have decided I want Erica no where near her.” My mouth dropped open in utter horror. Kay had screwed up major and felt no shame about this. This wasn’t a lie to pretend she had more because her family had less. This wasn’t a lie that would make anyone cool. Yet she loved every second of it. In our group of friends we could deal with Erica’s need to be a gossip, Jessie’s need to be a slut, Kayla’s need to get in trouble with strangers on IM chat, and heck Brittany constantly putting her foot in her mouth. But this was the straw that broke the camels back. From that day forward she was done.
My mother meanwhile asked her aunt about what was up with Kay and her son because she had seen Kay come to our house over the years and was concerned. Kay’s aunt, who was the nicest lady in the world, said to my mom, “Anne, that’s her baby brother. You are the sixth person who has asked me today. I don’t know why this child feels the need to lie.” My mother was also shocked and angered informing me Kay was in a bad way and I was not to hang around her anymore. She and Erica’s mother even talked later about this both coming to the consensus that there was some mental health stuff going on.
Kay wasn’t done just yet though. In tenth grade, two years after I cut her out completely, she told everyone she and her then boyfriend were expecting twins. On the school computer, in the midst of her multi-media class, Kay doctored up a picture of a sonogram. Showing it to everyone, they all gasped in horror and awe. They asked when she was due and she gave them an exact date. Rolling my eyes back because these people didn’t know her, I told them she was running a fast one. People, who didn’t know Kay and her tricks, informed me that I was being mean. However, time passed and she wasn’t showing like a pregnant woman should. So when people confronted her, especially when they saw her smoking, Kay lied and said she miscarried. I couldn’t believe she was running the same scheme now having three fake children. I went from simply being civil to going the other way whenever she went in my general direction. For the most part, so did most of the school.
Well the next year Kay said she was preggers. Most of us that knew better shook our heads in disbelief. This girl was running the same scheme for the third time! However this time it was for real. She was showing and carried a picture of her sonogram for all the world to see. The crazy thing was, the second it became all the more real Kay began to change. She sort of became nasty in a way to most everyone. With a gigantic belly, she would bump into people in the hall. One of my friends Megan told me that she was scared to run into her because one little nudge might make her deliver. Still Kay would fearlessly swear at people if they came in her general direction, especially other girls. Our student government president got the ear full about how she was just a suck up. Meanwhile this was coming from someone who could have used some of that energy in her own life. Then there was me who got the lead in the musical that year. Kay told me the musical was a waste of time and it was “foolishness.” Yes, this is coming from the woman who got pregnant because she tricked her boyfriend and lied about going off the pill.
The further Kay got and the more real it became it was almost as if she didn’t want it, except she had wished and tried for this so much that now the kid was in her belly it was too late. Little by little, she was realizing as the father of her child wavered about whether he was going to stay or was going to go that she seriously screwed up her life. It was so telling when we had a conversation at the end of junior year. I saw her in the bathroom and hadn’t spoken to her in sometime. Just to break the ice, because being seventeen and pregnant is just awkward, I asked her what she was doing for the summer. While it wasn’t the smoothest line I didn’t want to ask her who her Lamaze partner was. Kay looked at me as if I were joking and asked, “Well having a baby.”
I didn’t want to tell her that my family had planned a trip so I could see Smith, Mount Holyoke, NYU, Barnard, Marymount, Emerson and possibly Hood. I didn’t want to tell her my dreams of being an actress and TV personality as well as a writer were beginning to take shape. I didn’t want to tell her how I was becoming skilled with puppets. I didn’t want to tell her about another writing award I won. Yet that day in the bathroom she knew that we were once friends and now we were completely strangers. In her warped quest to find something she had become totally lost, and now it was as if we had never known each other.
Kay did have her son, and her aunt, ashamed of Kay’s bad decisions, but being as nice as she was, attempted to defend her. She said Kay had straight A’s when she left school for three days because she went into labor early. My dad, who knew life would be hard for my friend, got the full scoop. I remember he said, “God bless that little girl.” He had known Kay and was saddened that her life was over. I remember talking it over with the splinter section of our eighth grade crew who agreed. For as bad as Kay lied she had gotten what she wanted and now it was going to be a nightmare for her.
And it was. When I saw her at the beginning of our senior year she looked as if she had aged ten years. Always as skinny as a reed, she had lost even more weight. Though she was only eighteen, she had somehow gotten crow’s feet by her eyes. Always a bit of a health nut and gifted runner she had now started smoking to cope. One day, since the two of us were on senior early release, she offered me a ride home. At this point she barely had any friends left at school because her life had become so radically different. I was one of the few people from the old days who wasn’t looking at her weird of giggling as she walked by. It was almost as if she were eager to recapture time and couldn’t, or eager to hold onto what was clearly lost. As she drove me home she complained about her car and how she had to share the beat up ride with her mom. I asked her why she didn’t get a new one.
With big, sad, tired eyes she said, “I would but I have a son and he costs money.” I wanted to tell Dick Tracey no shit. Kids cost money. But I couldn’t. She was already discovering on her own the fantasy of playing house versus the reality were starkly different things. And the world is very cruel to single mother’s who don’t even have a high school diploma.
Kay would marry the father of her son and eventually have two more kids with him. Of course, since she captured him by having a kid, he always felt that she had tricked him. This man of course had kids with two other women, none of which he took care of. He skipped out on them and eventually skipped out on Kay as well. A year ago she contacted me out of the blue telling me she was alone with three kids after her husband left. However now she was engaged. I asked her about him and apparently he is only “eighteen but mature for her age.” Translated, she has done the big ass fuck her on life.
Looking back at it I think when Kay started lying it was to fill in something that she felt was missing in her life. Ultimately she thought a kid would bring it to her. I think Kay started out wanting a cure for one thing and ended up with a thousand other problems. I used to detest her lying and didn’t understand it. We used to term her as bad news.
However these days if I were to see her I would ask, “Have you finally found what you are looking for? If there is a God I hope you find Him now. I am sorry for your pain.”