It's time for Readers' Revenge, the weekly feature in which we turn Grantland over to YOU, the unpredictable reader. This week's topic was Your Most Shameful Lie. I'm not sure what I was expecting when I put this one out to the general population, but the result might make you quit reading Grantland forever to avoid sullying your good name by association. Just know that Grantland and I are neutral observers, and we don't endorse or condone anything that happens in these stories. I do laugh, though. I laugh and laugh and laugh, and then I take a long hard look at myself, and then I laugh again. But this time more quietly.
Below are the top e-mails, plus a new feature, and you can check out past installments in the box below. The topic for next week will be Your Worst Moment in a Foreign Country. Define "worst" however you see fit — most horrible, most shameful, etc. Send your very best to firstname.lastname@example.org by Sunday for a chance to make the cut. Stories can involve you or someone you know, and anonymity is allowed. Those with a high degree of hilarity and humiliation always do well. Enjoy!
We begin with The Seth From Conway Special! For those of you who don't know, Seth is a frequent contributor to Readers' Revenge, and has, by far, the most stories throughout the series. He's a bit of a legend around here, and it's gotten to the point that he deserves his own special section. He's not quite Hall of Fame, but he's well on the way. Take it, Seth:
At the time of this lie, my grandmother was an 87-year-old widow who lived alone. Granny was old and somewhat senile but held her own for the most part as she was able to take care of herself, still legally drive a car and took walks regularly. One time, she asked me if I would go with her to some type of annual mountain man heritage festival. This was taking place in a town several hours away from where I lived and would no doubt be an all-day trip. I was not at all interested and had turned down this type of request from her several times in the past. However, she asked me in front of my mother and I felt a little guilty, so I reluctantly accepted.
My Granny and I actually had a pretty close relationship, as she would call me two to three times every week just to talk. Since she didn’t know anything really about my personal life, we would mostly discuss general topics like the local news, the weather, etc. When the Saturday of the festival rolled around I woke up extremely hungover after celebrating a friend’s 18th birthday the night before. With my vision still a little blurry and legs uneasy, I was in no condition to go on an all-day trip hundreds of miles away. I called Granny and used the excuse that I had begun helping as an assistant coach for a local pee-wee football team and that I forgot we had our first practice today. Like always, she pretended it was no big deal and let me off the hook rather easily.
What I didn’t realize was that I had unintentionally given her a full case of ammunition to throw at me every time she called on the phone. While previously our talks would pertain to things such as my opinion on the new gazebo at the local park, she would now begin every conversation by continually ask me about the fictitious pee-wee team I was now coaching. She was not a big football fan but knew enough to ask me about things like if we threw the ball often or if we ran the “pitch play.” Also, she once asked about going to a game of ours but I told her it was out of town. I maintained the lie for more than four months and rehashed it multiple times when asked to go on other outings with her. I had to keep up with our fake record and even made up some kids’ names to make it all seem more realistic. I never told anyone and she died two years later.
—Seth, Conway, Arkansas
Ten years ago, I was dating a smart, cute, funny, low-maintenance, sexually insatiable Australian girl who was way out of my league. Naturally, I wasn't satisfied with that and was secretly on a dating site looking to meet other women. Also naturally, she eventually found out and we had a big fight, which ended with me proclaiming myself dedicated to our relationship (I wasn't) and swearing I would delete my profile that night (I had no such intention). The next day, she called me and said she was "disappointed but not surprised" that my profile was still on the website. I told her that I had, in fact, terminated my membership, but I'd instructed them to leave my profile up for another 24 hours so I could see if she trusted me to do what I'd promised — I'd "tested" her and she had failed miserably, and now I felt terribly hurt and betrayed. She paused for a moment, then said she was sorry.
I replied, "That wasn't much of an apology," and demanded another, better one. She apologized again and the conversation ended soon after that. As I put the phone down, I felt lower and more ashamed of myself than I ever have. Until about 10 minutes later, when she called me back — she was sitting in her car in the parking lot at work, bawling, and started telling me how sorry she was for not trusting me, how disgusted she was with herself for not taking my word, and how I deserved better than that and she hoped I could forgive her. That was too much for me and I came clean. Not surprisingly, that was the end of the relationship. Also not surprisingly, she's now happily married and I haven't met anybody since then who even compares to her.
I have amassed my fair share of shameful lies but this is the worst that I'm aware of. During a night out in college, my roommates and I drank too much to drive. Fortunately, a girl (who was/is pretty hot) we knew happened by as we were leaving the bar and offered to give us a ride home. We took her up on the offer and my roommate paid her back by stealing art supplies out of the backseat of her car. (She was an art major.) After several bong rips, I decided (Actually, let's be honest, the alcohol and weed decided) that it was a good idea to paint our neighbor's door. This was especially stupid because we lived in a duplex and their door was about three feet from ours.
The next day, our neighbor told us what he thought had happened (he blamed it on high school kids) and offered to clean up the paint that I had accidentally gotten on the exterior of our side. That technically isn't a lie, but it was definitely shameful. To ratchet the amount of shame to the next level, I lied to the girl about my roommate stealing her supplies. She told me they cost about $300 and she needed them to complete her finals. I did my best Rafael Palmeiro impression and never copped to the truth, even though it was obvious. Hopefully she doesn't read this.
So I was in a long relationship, with a girl I had just proposed to. I thought I was in love and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. However, the conversation of children came up. She wanted to have three kids. Move back home to Boston and raise them as loyal Red Sox/Patriots/Celtics/Bruins fans. She, of course was a die-hard. However, the only problem was, I am too. Mets/Giants/Knicks/Rangers are the teams I live and die for. Season tickets to Mets and Knicks. Road trips to follow all these teams. So the notion of moving to, basically hell, was out of the question.
For the next few months we argued about this. She wouldn't budge on the idea and she was not joking. We didn't even start planning the wedding. My friends all said this was my fault because I should have never started dating the enemy. (She was a real nice woman and my boys liked her too.) However, I would not adjust to moving away from home and leaving my new career behind.
So, just like any true sports fan, she likes to knock a few back during a big sporting event. So it was during a Patriots/Jets game (two teams I despise) where my lie, which I had planned out with my friend, came into play. After her fourth Long Island Iced Tea, I faked getting a phone call from work. I told her I had to go work late. She understood since I just started at this new job. She stayed behind with my friends and continued to consume her Long Island Iced Teas.
Then I come home and she's out cold. Snoring up a storm, but not to my surprise, I see my buddy laying down watching TV. I laugh. Give him the nod and the lie comes to life. I yell "What the fuck!? You assholes!!!!!" She awakens all startled and scared to see my friend in bed next to her. I accuse her of cheating. She denies anything happened (it didn't) but she was too drunk to remember. She begs for forgiveness days after that. She promises she'll do anything to keep me in her life. I say, we can't move to Boston and our lives will stay in New York. She agrees without hesitating.
I know I'm an asshole. Even better, this past Super Bowl, she watched as our 2-year-old (in her Eli Manning jersey) and myself celebrated a Patriot loss and another Giants championship. She also loves the Knicks and Mets. Lost her to the Bruins, though. Her mother went extra-hard with hockey. She does hate the evil Yankees. A fair distribution, I think.
As a side note so I don't look like a total jerk-off, I did this mainly because I did not want to go to fucking Boson, not because of what our children's sports affiliation would be. I also had to pretend to be mad at my best friend for sleeping with my future wife. We went eight months without talking. It was her idea to "mend the bridge." He was still the best man at the wedding. She also found her dream job in the city and we are two months into our first home. I promised her that my man cave will be the sports cave, divided evenly between NY and Boston memorabilia. Only limited her to only five Celtics items. See, she won at the end too. We both live with the shame. Her thinking that she cheated, and me making her think she did. The way it should be.
I had just graduated college from my Big Ten university and was moving out to New Hampshire sight-unseen to take a job as an AmeriCorps VISTA. In New Hampshire in 2002, that meant that I would be living on about $9,400 a year.
I had decided that it would be a great idea to apply for this program on a Sunday. On Tuesday, I had a series of interviews and Friday, I was going to drive out from my Midwestern home to the small college town where I would be working. I just needed a place to land once I arrived.
I had been reading the classifieds from afar and found a great listing at the right price. Adrenaline pumping, I immediately called and left a rambling and incoherent message. It probably sounded a lot like Charles Bukowski crossed with Jimmy Two Times from Goodfellas. There was no way I was going to get that room now, let alone a call back.
Desperate, I racked my brain for a way to make this right. There were no other rooms to rent at my price point and I was leaving in 48 hours. I couldn't even sleep in my car; it was full of everything I owned. I called back a few hours later and told the most blatant and intentional lie that had ever crossed my lips.
I told the woman that I was diabetic and was in mild shock. That sometimes I have to check my cell phone to see if any calls were made because I get so loopy I don't remember much of what happens. That I am terribly sorry for the inconvenience and I hope I didn't say anything inappropriate.
Turns out she was a dietitian at the college that I would be working at and she totally understood and of course I could have the room.
The intoxication of getting away with that fiction was so powerful it was terrifying. I've never told another lie so great, mostly out fear that I won't stop because it just felt so damn good.
I once had a huge college midterm in a psychology class that accounted for 33 percent of my final grade. I had been blowing off the lectures, knowing that I’d hunker down and cram everything the textbook could tell me in my brain the night before (like I did with most of my undergrad courses). The day before the midterm, my roommates came home with a keg that a buddy had pilfered from the liquor store he worked at. Don’t ask me how someone manages to steal an entire keg from their place of work — to this day, I have no idea and it never occurred to any of us to ask him how this was possible. All I know is that when a free keg of beer shows up at your doorstep on a Tuesday afternoon you don’t ask questions — you just start calling every girl you know to come over.
So after roughly six hours of beer pong and flip cup (and countless coeds coming and going) I suddenly realized that I was supposed to be cramming for the midterm that was scheduled for the next morning. Determined, I holed up in my room with a pitcher and the pysch textbook for an all-night study session. Around 9:30 the next morning I awoke at my desk with my head buried in book and the smell of dried, sticky beer that had been spilled from the knocked-over pitcher onto my head, desk and book. I think I fell asleep in my chair after about four pages the night before. The midterm was scheduled for 8 a.m. I panicked.
I showered, dressed, and rushed to campus in the hopes of speaking to the head of the department. I didn’t even have a plan, nor had I reviewed any of the material I was to be tested on. Upon gaining an audience with the gentleman in charge, a story starting forming in my beer-hazed mind. Maybe, just maybe, I could pull this off.
I explained that the day before I had received a call from my mother telling me that my younger 16-year-old brother (who has a problem with alcohol and drugs) had a major meltdown. My mom explained that he started screaming at her, told her he was going to kill himself, and promptly ran away from home and hadn’t been heard from since that morning. Naturally, I had to drive the 200 miles home and find my little brother, make sure he was OK and convince him to reconcile with the family, go home, and get help. It took me all day and night, but I found him and was successful. I told the department head that I had just gotten back to my college town, hadn’t slept, and hadn’t had time to review the material. Was there anything he could do to help me so I wouldn’t fail the class?
Unbelievably, the guy gave me the most sympathetic look I’ve ever seen in my entire life. He confided that he himself had a son with drug and alcohol problems and could completely understand how hard it can be to deal with issues surrounding that. He then commended me for taking action to help my family and told me he would have done the same thing were he in my shoes. He immediately called the professor of my class, and explained that I would be taking my exam the next morning with no penalty. That’s it, no more questions asked, and he smiled warmly and wanted to be sure that was enough time to get some sleep and review the material. I thanked him and said yes.
I ended up with a B+ in that class after re-taking the exam the next day. I don’t even have a little brother.
It was my second summer after graduating from college, and I was getting married at the end of July. After bouncing around at a few marketing/sales jobs in the Chicagoland area, I found myself working as a teller at a local bank to stay off of unemployment. My fiance and I were paying for the wedding ourselves (300 people, mind you), so the steady income at the bank was vital while I tried to jump-start my career. As most women do, she would get stressed out daily about absolutely every detail of the upcoming nuptials. Needless to say, as 4th of July weekend hit, I had just about had it with all the bullshit that comes along with planning/paying for a wedding.
The 4th was on a Sunday, so after spending the entire day drinking heavily, I called it a night around midnight since I had work at 7 a.m. the next day. I woke up decently hungover, but nothing horrible. Showered, ate breakfast, arrived to work on time. We had literally eight people come in before I left for lunch, so it was a very boring morning with a lot of head hanging. When I arrived back from lunch, I was ambushed by my assistant manager and head teller, who accuse me of showing up to work drunk. They forced me to go home, but since I was "drunk," I had to sit with a police officer (who at no point would give me a breathalyzer to prove my innocence) until two of my buddies showed up to drive my car home. Since Indiana is an at-will employment state, I got fired the next day with absolutely no chance to defend myself from the accusations.
So there I was, three weeks away from getting married, jobless, and being hounded by someone who would cry about deciding the color of napkins. I ran through hundreds of ways of breaking the news to her in my head, and almost all of them ended with the wedding being called off and/or her having a complete mental breakdown. So, being the gentleman I am, I decided to lie. I woke up everyday at 6 a.m. for three weeks, showered, ate breakfast, put on my suit and tie, kissed her goodbye. However, instead of going to work as she thought, I secretly went to the condo we were moving into after the wedding and played video games, took naps, and applied for jobs. It was an insanely sweet gig, but each day I felt the noose getting tighter.
I kept telling myself I'd tell her after the wedding, but then a miracle happened. Three days before the wedding, I got a call to interview for a job that would pay me four to five times what I was making at the bank. I obviously told the fiance about this, and I made sure to tactfully inform her that the interview was the next day, and that I didn't know what to do because I was supposed to work. We both agreed that I should jeopardize my job at the bank for a chance at this step in the right direction for my career, so I called and "informed the 'bank' I would need to take a two-hour lunch the next day" right in front of her. I still have the convo with myself on my voicemail. I came home the next day with bad news; the bank found out the reason I took a long lunch and canned my ass, buuuuuut I nailed the interview and got the job!!!!
She was estatic, the wedding was perfect, I now have a great career, and, most importantly, my three-week farce remains legendary with only my closest friends and co-workers.
Grantland, please don't tell my wife.
A few years ago, one of the local bars I frequented was celebrating its 50th anniversary. Since the place was extremely casual, I thought it would be funny to wear a tuxedo. The bartenders all told me I would get free drinks if I did, so that pretty much sealed the deal.
I show up at the bar in my formal wear, and immediately, people are asking me why I'm so dressed up. I quickly get tired of telling the truth (that I'm an odd ball and a whore for free drinks) and start making up different reasons for the tux. "All of my other clothes are dirty." "I got lost on the way to my wedding and decided to call it off." Just random bullshit.
Well after sufficiently taking advantage of free drinks all night, I decided to go bar hopping around the local campus bars. Eventually, I ended up at a dance club; drunk off my ass and still creating bullshit stories to answer any tuxedo inquiries. As I'm making a lap around the club, an incredibly cute, kinda drunk girl walks up and asks about my tux. I say the first thing that pops in to my head: "Oh, earlier tonight I went to a charitable dinner and auction for the benefit of third-world orphans."
Immediately, I knew that I had either said something very good or very bad because she was visibly overcome with emotion. To my pleasant surprise she hugs me, and tells me how wonderful I am. Apparently, the advocacy for orphans was incredibly important to her.
Of course, I felt absolutely horrible for the lie, but I also felt that I would be doing fate an incredible injustice for this divine gift bestowed upon me if didn't at least take some advantage of the situation. We made out for about an hour and I got her number. She told me that though she wanted me to come home with her, even though she never did that (which I honestly do believe), her roommates wouldn't allow it. Oh well, no big deal. You can't lose for winning.
We went on a couple dates, and finally, I got the OK for a "sleepover." It was definitely in the Top 2 sexual encounters of my life, which is apparently why I was inexplicably overcome with the desire to tell the truth. She told me that after going on one date with me, she knew I was full of shit but since she was graduating soon, and I did seem like a genuinely nice person, she didn't call me out on it. But she did tell me to go home, and not to call her for a while. Two weeks later, she called me to come celebrate her graduation before she left town. Of course, I wore the tuxedo.
—El Guapo, Indiana
Emerging from the woods on a Friday night in December, we told the cop we were burying my friend's dog, affectionately referred to as "DQ." The cop bought it.
We were stopped and questioned because we all had shovels and were covered in dirt & sweat. The theatrics began — saying "the DQ loved those woods and deserved to be laid to rest there." He had a dog, said he was sorry, and told us to go home.
The truth was, the DQ was a few miles down the road sleeping peacefully and was 100 percent an indoor dog with regular grooming visits on her calendar.
The other truth was, we were digging a fake grave in a nearby forgotten cemetery from the 1800s, boxed in by residential housing. The plan was to dig it, put our giant 6-foot-5, 280-pound friend in it the next night (Saturday) dressed in tattered zombie clothes. We would cover it in plywood and put dirt on top of it. We'd already promised a few of the girls we were after a séance — that'd we'd communicate with the spirit of Gus McGuire, who passed in the 1850s. We were going to light some candles, perform some chants, and the giant would explode from underneath the plywood on cue. The cue was "Rise from the dead!!!" and at that point, things would really escalate
I'm pretty we cursed DQ and the lie eventually led to her demise.
—Ol' Ralph, Alabama