Tangled Web

“These are my favorite cookies!” she said. “They’re Entenmann’s, right?”

In that moment, I had a choice. The first of many.

Save my face. Or save my ass.

I didn’t have time to bake my usual chocolate chip cookies for the potluck. My gooey, chunky cookies always garnered accolades from my fellow gymnastics team members. I prided myself on those cookies almost as much as I did my back handsprings, two things in high school I knew I did well.

I bought a box of Entenmann’s chocolate chip cookies, the distinctive bite-sized ones, put them on a decorative plate and brought them and my shame to the party.

I made a choice. My face.

“They’re not Entenmann’s,” I lied. “I made them. Yesterday.”

We stared at each other over the buffet laden with homemade goodies.

“Really?” said my teammate. “They taste and look exactly like Entenmann’s.”

Eyes now glued to the plate of frosted brownies between us, I chose again. Face.

“Do they?” I asked, fear dancing in my belly. “My mom found the recipe in a magazine, and I used it to make these cookies. I thought I’d try something new instead of my usual cookies. I didn’t know they’d taste like Entenmann’s!”

I looked up quickly to gauge my lie’s impact, unsure if I would ever stop talking.

Silence. She spoke first. A weak choice.

“These taste exactly like Entenmann’s. I want your mom’s recipe.”

I busied myself straightening the cookies on the plastic, flower-etched plate; popped one in my mouth to buy extra time and sugar-infused stamina.

“They do taste a little like Entenmann’s. Not exactly, but they’re close. I think I like my usual recipe better,” I offered.

Her eyes never left mine. “I have to have the recipe. Everyone’s going to want it.”

Panic. Face.

“I’m not sure I have it anymore,” I answered. “It was my mom’s recipe, and I don’t know if she kept it.”

My teammate never hesitated, “I’m sure she still has it. You used the recipe yesterday, right?”

My throat felt hot and prickly; the fifth cookie I swallowed no salve for my terror. “Right. Sure. I’ll ask my mom for it.”

Once home, I baked and inhaled a batch of cookies to soothe my shame. Momentarily sated, I weighed my options.

  • Make up a recipe and pass it off as magazine version
  • Convince my mom I was sick (does a sugar-induced coma count?) and stay home from school for a few weeks
  • Avoid my teammate for the rest of school year
  • Blame my mom for throwing out recipe

Sadly, I never considered changing schools or feigning a terminal brain malady. Or asking for help.

“Did you bring the recipe?” she asked.

My choice, repeated daily until I wore her down, “Oh, I forgot. I’ll bring it tomorrow.”

Lisa, if you’re reading, I hope you believe in the adage “better late than never.” I am sorry.

And yes, my ass feels better.

I am linking up with Yeah Write for Week Four of their Summer Writer’s Series

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

53 thoughts on “Tangled Web

  1. Oh, saving face & covering ass…an age old dilemma!! My first instinct is always to hide it, cover it up…make sure I look good! Luckily in my ripe old age I pretty quickly abandon that instinct, but I love watching my kids’ faces as they attempt it.

    My grandma occasionally resorted to a store-bought solution on a pretty plate. If someone asked about the recipe, she would just say “it’s the one that uses real butter”. My daughters still love her special apple sauce which is simply Jewel brand chunky in a nice bowl with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

    3 cheers for Entenmann’s and a lesson in honesty for saving us now & then.

    • I love your grandma’s response!! And her presentation skills! I had forgotten this high school interaction until I was at a potluck recently and brought food made by Trader Joe instead of Chef Me. I didn’t feel the slightest bit of shame. I was only happy I didn’t spend time in the kitchen on such a hot day!

  2. Hey, I want a cure for my ass ache! And I am suddenly craving Entenmans. Damn, I got in so much trouble with those as a young and ambitious bulimic. Whew. YOur post took me back to those days. I still lie to save my face, but I suck at it now, which is maybe a good thing. It’s still a go-to for me when I feel shame creeping in. Gosh, am I your healthiest commenter ever? Anyway, this post was awesome. I want to see some handsprings from you sometime. Love the post and love you.

    • OMG! I just found your fabulous comment in my spam folder – yet another ‘God has a sense of humor’ moment. Damn it. I keep trying to surrender and then there’s this spam folder debacle! Ok, you are truly my healthiest commenter and I love you too! Hey, I thought I was the cause/cure of your ass ache. Is that grandiose? I’m thinking of running to the store for some Entenmann’s – wanna come?!

  3. That very awful moment when “the lie” becomes this huge tangled web that you can’t get out of. I have been there (I regretfully admit) – but at least you came clean! You are a great writer always – this piece rocks over the top.

    • I guess it feels happy and sad at the same time. Happy to laugh at my high school self and sad that I thought I thought I had to lie and manage my image to feel good enough. Giving my high school self a hug now :-).

    • I know! I was never been able to enjoy the I Love Lucy show reruns because I would get so anxious when Lucy lied and got herself into a mess. I always wanted her to just tell the truth, perhaps because I had my own Lucy show going on! Thanks for commenting!

  4. oh MAN i’m sorry but i chuckled through this just cuz i really could feel your shame. not that it’s funny but… i think we’ve all been in your shoes. nicely written.

    • Thank you. I chuckled too while I was writing it. It was only after I clicked “publish” that I felt a little scared and vulnerable! Do you ever feel that way when you write a post?

    • Thank you!!! What a treat to read your comment! Did your shenanigan involve baked goods? How did you get caught? I’m amazed after all these years how tightly I held on to that lie. Thanks for visiting!

    • Let’s hope! I have a fantasy that Lisa will somehow find this post, contact me and we’ll have a good laugh. Or maybe she writes a blog also and she’ll write her side! Thanks for commenting!

  5. Great story — like Stacie, I was squirming on your behalf, hoping Lisa would shut up (or simply stuff her mouth with cookies) and let you off the hook!

  6. You captured the teenage lie that pops out for no real reason and then loops itself slowly around the teller’s neck because she is too tangled to offer up the truth. Well told. Ellen

  7. WordPress ate my comment last night. I absolutely related to this piece, because it feels like you’re stuck. Either you lied that you’d bring homemade (even if you never promised to do any such thing, the table full of homemade is absolutely suggesting that it was implied) or you could lie and say you DID bring it.

    • I just found your original comment and a few others in my spam folder! I feel honored to get two from you!

      Oh, I was stuck alright! Nothing that more lies couldn’t make better! I was impressive back then, no!

  8. Oh a well told and scary reminder of what life was like before we could Google everything! Haha.
    I enjoyed your story! You had me rushing to read to see how your situation ended, and that’s a good sign!
    Great job!

    • Thank you! I wonder if I would have felt any better about the whole interaction if I had been able to hand her a Googled recipe the next day? Maybe I’ll do an experiment – have any potlucks coming up? Thanks for commenting!

  9. Great post, you have guts staring her down and keeping on going with the lie. Terrible feeling, that. 🙂 Still, in some way, some obtuse way, you won…

  10. Those cookies *are* really good.
    I don’t know what’s better, your determination to save face or her determination to keep asking. Loved the story. Sorry you went through it. Lies are a dangerous thing.

    • Thank you! After I read Erica M’s directions for voting, I told myself I was the one with the “overzealous application of freakish typefaces.” Thanks for commenting!!

  11. Oh, god this brought back shudders of when I was busted lying about going to a Cure concert in college. I remember the girl prying for information on the set list, what they wore, what route I took to the concert, our seats. Like you, I never gave up the lie. Great post.

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