Why I don't have a tattoo

One of the moms at our little playgroup said this morning that she was thinking about getting a tattoo. I commented that although I like tattoos I would never get one because such an identifying characteristic would ruin my chances for a career as a secret agent. (When they carved SMERSH into James Bond’s forearm he had to get a skin graft to cover it up.)

Obviously, my chances of becoming a secret agent are slim at best, and I was joking around when I said it. But there’s an element of truth in there. I do like to have secrets. I tend to compartmentalize my life. But here’s a strange thing: although I like to compartmentalize and keep secrets, at the same time I cannot tell lies. Not that I don’t want to, or feel I oughtn’t, but I really can’t. I get extremely anxious, even hyperventilatingly anxious, at the thought of telling a lie. I even have a hard time with tactful stuff, like “gee, your new haircut looks great.” And my kids have never believed in Santa or the Tooth Fairy.

I also take a very dim view of other people’s lies. I had a dear friend in college, one of those once-in-a-lifetime friends. We shared an apartment for a year, a very intense, exhilarating, miserable year. After a while I realized that she was a compulsive liar, and she confessed to having told me two lies. The first was when she told me all her middle names. She is Catholic, and has her baptismal name, confirmation name, etc. She added an extra name into the list (it was Emily). The second was when she told me she had played in two pro tennis tournaments as a teenager (she had actually played in just one). Both lies totally pointless. But to this day I can’t get over it, and I haven’t kept in touch with her beyond the annual Christmas card. Interestingly enough, this friend grew up in a family full of secrets. For example, not until she was 17 did she learn that her dad was not actually in the foreign service, but, get this, was a CIA agent. I know what you’re thinking, but I’ve had independent confirmation of this; I know she wasn’t lying. Another interesting thing about her is that she’s a fabulous storyteller and writer. (Think about the word fabulous, too: fable, fabricate.)

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Had some interesting responses to the ideal reader post. I was particularly intrigued by Suzanne’s choice of Carol Shields. I’ve never read anything by Shields, but last night on the way to the Y I stopped at the library and picked up The Stone Diaries. I started reading it standing right there in the stacks and boy, did it suck me in! Unfortunately I am persona non grata at the circulation desk right now because I have so many overdue books, so I couldn’t check it out. But I’m going to go back for it as soon as I can. Doulicia, you might like it too. It starts with a birth, heh heh heh!


  • Do you know I actually paused when I saw Suzanne's choice because Carol Shields does nothing for me. So I was trying to figure out what there was about her to even be matchable to an ideal reader. Isn't that funny? But maybe it has to do with context. I read
    Stone Diaries as I was coming out of my intense pregnancy nausea and that may have colored it. I just kept waiting for things to get started...and then they were over.

    But your reaction to it, as well as to Robertson Davies makes me wonder if you aren't secretly (gong back to the theme here) Canadian. You seem to really resonate to the Canadian sensibilities. Let me ask, if you DID get a tattoo, would it be a maple leaf?

    posted by Blogger doulicia on 9:51 AM  

  • Julie, I hope you enjoy The Stone Diaries. It's nothing like any of her other work, and in some ways I can see Doulicia's point. But I so enjoyed the narrative, especially the fact that the protagonist never spoke for herself (outside of her gardening articles) throughout the entire book. I thought that made a powerful statement about women's lives during that time period.

    posted by Blogger Suzanne on 12:05 PM  

  • Oh, Doulicia, you're so right. In my heart I'm Canadian. Have I ever confessed how madly love I am with all the people at CBC Radio Two? Especially Tom Allen and Shelley Solmes. They are just so classy. Shelley never fails to say something at some point during her show that leaves me misty-eyed. And listening to the news from Canada gives quite a different perspective on things. I think I first started to fall in love with Canada when I realized how much better they treat their native peoples than we do here.

    It is interesting how one person's ideal author can leave another person totally cold. I know how you feel about Davies and you know how I feel about Franzen. And yet, you and I seem to be on the same, well, page, for everything else.

    posted by Blogger Julie on 12:16 PM  

  • Oh, I laughed at loud at the persona non grata bit because I am, too! I owe $27 and keep stuffing the nasty-grams into the wastebasket...

    posted by Blogger Diana on 3:19 PM