Friday, April 24, 2009

One Hundred Things My Mother Taught Me A Million Times - Chapter 4

#4 - "Things Lay, people Lie."

I have been called pretentious, and having spent most of my life trying to appear smarter, prettier, and more successful and interesting than I am, I'd have to agree. Of course that is relative to how smart, pretty, successful and interesting I really am, so I don't think my pretension is particularly psychotic, but perhaps that last statement was.

How does all of this relate to mom's lesson #4, "things lay, people lie," which she taught me a million times? Well, mom was all about appearances, and grammar was one of the many rungs on the ladder to being smarter, prettier, and more successful and interesting. Mom believed that grammar, if executed poorly, doomed you to being "common," which in her mind was the seventh level of hell.

Conversely, she believed that if one executed grammar well, one could avoid the hell of commonality. By the way, I never heard my mother say hell, or damn, or any other expletive other than "deeee-ern," which wasn't even "darn," but when said signaled unparalleled anger. Not being common is lesson #5, so I'm not going to get into that one just yet, but like "the uncertainly of life (lesson #2)," "not being common" is an overarching theme in the one hundred things my mother taught me a million times. Oh, and for the record, not all of my mother's lessons stuck; I know that. Click on Read More Below...

OK, back to laying and lying. Mother was always subtle in her lessons. She would never come right out and say that people are liars, and I honestly don't think she thought they were. In fact, I think that my penchant for believing that everyone is honest, or at least "means well," probably comes from my mother, who I never heard say an unkind word about anyone (not even son-in-laws, and she had four). Think about that for a minute. I never heard my mother say an unkind thing about another person. How many people can lay claim to that characteristic? Don't get me wrong, my mother wasn't a saint, and there are times that she just about drove me to matricide (have you read Almost Moon" by Alice Sebold?), but she did have some very admirable traits. Interestingly enough, I think that she stayed out of trouble, or retained her aura of goodness, mostly because she never said much of anything (until she turned 70 - another story), which brings us back to lying.

Have you ever noticed what a strange word lying is (lie, lying, liar)? I want to know who was in charge of derivations when this word was invented! People do lie. There are so many different types of lies aren't there? I'm probably missing some, but it seems that there are: 1. Outright, malicious, hurt-someone lies, 2. I'm-deluding-myself lies, 3. Lies of omission, 4. Little white lies, 5. Lies told in the act of sparing someone’s feelings, and 6. Lies of exaggeration. I participate in 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6, but I forgive myself for these lies because they aren't malicious. My husband seems only to participate in number 2. He is painfully honest and, honestly, I think that although the truth sometimes hurts, I never have to try to figure out what he means or if he's being truthful/honest. I tell people that with Crouse, what you see is what you get. I think that I could give up all lies except number 5. Reflecting on the "what a terrible web we weave..." I don't really think that some lies are that terrible, except for the malicious ones, and the ones we tell ourselves, and the exaggerations, and the omissions, and true, little white ones can turn into dark hairy ones easily enough. Well, OK, lying is bad.

What do you lie about? Are you lying to yourself when you say that you don't lie? Have I correctly used "lie" throughout this post? Is my mother rolling over in her grave at my poor grammar? I haven't even talked about laying, but my primitive mind seems to only relate to that term sexually, so we'll just skip it.

Perhaps I should just take a lesson from mom and shut up - at least until my next post, which as mentioned above, will be mom's lesson #5, "Never be common."


  1. SueAnn,
    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the picture of Momy on your blog! I wish you could keep it up so when others are reading what your mother taught you, they can put the face and the writings together. I miss her so much!!

    I am in full agreement with her belief concerning grammar. I've always been very aware that the words coming from my mouth and heard for the first time by someone else is the only chance I get to (hopefully) prove I AM an intelligent person.

    I'm hoping to add in some way to your thoughts because I have no doubt what Momy taught my mother, she's passed on to me through the years.

    I applaud your effort in this and wish you much success!


  2. Thank you Lynda. I am so pleased that you are reading my blog. Be sure to show it to your mom when you can. Love you always,

    Aunt Sue

  3. Definitely not common--perhaps uncommonly talented! Sign me up!


  4. She had to work very hard on me. Now i feel sorry for her. The worst student for languages and grammar. After her lessons the pain reminded me of that cop in the French Connection when he was coming off heroin.

  5. "Liar Liar Pants on Fire" I didn't lie much cause I didn't want to hear the chant.