When Greg Bruce was asked to keep track of his lies for a month, he thought there would only be a few. Turns out that was un­true too.

When Greg Bruce was asked to keep track of his lies for a month, he thought there would only be a few. Turns out that was un­true too.

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS -

JAN­UARY 9, TUES­DAY My editor asked if it would be pos­si­ble for me to keep track of my lies for one month and to write about it for pub­li­ca­tion on Fe­bru­ary 17. This was a phys­i­cal im­pos­si­bil­ity be­cause the dead­line for the story would have passed be­fore a month was even up.

“No prob­lem,” I said. “I’ve al­ready started.”


I got home from work wear­ing heavy-ish pants and a long-sleeved shirt and I walked into the kitchen, where it was eas­ily 65C and as hu­mid as sauce. All I wanted was to get into shorts and a T-shirt but my wife started telling me some­thing about one of our chil­dren and I soon no­ticed it had the rhythms of a story with no de­fin­i­tive end­point, so I went to get changed.

I thought I had got away with it but within sec­onds she called out, “You al­ways do that!”

“Okay,” I said, re­turn­ing to the kitchen and sigh­ing. “You can con­tinue rant­ing at me.”

I don’t know why I said it. As soon as it was out of my mouth, I wanted to grab it and cram it back in.

“I’m glad you think when I talk about our kids that I’m rant­ing,” she said.

“No,” I said, “I didn’t mean you were rant­ing about the kids. I meant you were rant­ing about my leav­ing the room.”

This was a lie that didn’t re­ally help the sit­u­a­tion.


I was, in the­ory, read­ing my two daugh­ters The Lit­tle Girl Who Lost Her Name while they sat on my lap on the couch, but in prac­tice I was watch­ing the fourth one dayer be­tween New Zealand and Pak­istan on my phone, which was tucked dis­creetly in next to my leg, out of their line of sight.

I would look at a page of the book, mem­o­rise the text as best I could, then re­cite it as if I was read­ing, while re­ally I was watch­ing the cricket.

When I’d fin­ished the book, I closed it and lifted it up in front of my face, so I could con­ceal my phone be­hind it and watch one last de­liv­ery be­fore I had to get the girls ready for bed.

“What are you look­ing at on the back?” Tal­lu­lah asked.

I quickly dropped the phone into my lap and said, “I’m just read­ing the back of the book.” For added plau­si­bil­ity, I then read it aloud. She looked into my eyes with a strange in­ten­sity. Had she de­tected dishonesty in my voice? Had she known what I’d been do­ing all along?

It made me feel so guilty! But she lies way more than I do. She’s al­ways do­ing mean things to her sis­ter and telling us she hasn’t.


It was 9.48pm when Zanna started com­plain­ing. I was al­ready near the end of my tether be­cause we were up work­ing and still had a lot more work to do and I have a nightly re­minder on my phone telling me to go to bed at 9.50pm.

I hoped her com­plaint would end quickly but it soon adopted the rhythms of some­thing that wouldn’t. Ear­lier that day I had seen some Blue­tooth head­phones on­line that I re­ally wanted to buy and now I couldn’t help but think how much more I wanted to be buy­ing those head­phones than lis­ten­ing to her com­plaint.

It was some­thing about how when she sends some emails she wants to copy and paste but can’t. It in­cluded some­thing about the clip­board and some­thing about los­ing text but I wasn’t sure of the con­nec­tions be­tween all those things. To es­tab­lish them would have re­quired ques­tions and clar­i­fi­ca­tions that could have gone on for who knows how long.

“Yeah,” I said, at what seemed to be a nat­u­ral break in the ex­po­si­tion. “That’s an­noy­ing as hell.” “Yeah,” she said, and then there was si­lence. This is the lie I feel worst about, but I was tired and so­ci­etal norms are largely re­spon­si­ble for my con­sumerism, so I can’t take all the blame.


I re­cently told my boss that my wife and I, fol­low­ing our move to a new house late last year, had be­come so good at flat-pack con­struc­tion that we were think­ing about start­ing up a busi­ness help­ing other cou­ples who might be strug­gling.

That was two lies to start with. I had no in­ten­tion of help­ing any­one and the only thing that has al­lowed us to sur­vive the re­la­tion­ship trauma of our own flat-pack ef­forts has been for me to out­source the whole thing to Zanna. She reads the in­struc­tions, fig­ures out how it all works, hands me the ex­act equip­ment I need and tells me ex­actly what to do. When­ever I fin­ish an as­signed task, I nag her about what to do next and she even­tu­ally shouts at me to wait.

So when my boss came to me one morn­ing and said, “Hey, since you’re such a flat­pack ge­nius … ” and handed me a flat­tened stor­age box to con­struct, my first in­stinct was to text a photo of it to Zanna. That would, how­ever, have been no good. The box had all man­ner of folds, lines, num­bers and let­ters that needed to be aligned, slot­ted into each other and so forth. The in­struc­tions were al­ready there on the box. Noth­ing Zanna could have told me would have been of use. I was alone.

I found a YouTube tu­to­rial in which a guy did it in 10 to 15 sec­onds, which didn’t help. By that stage, I had al­ready spent about 15 min­utes on it. It was only pride that forced me on­wards, and I was even­tu­ally left with some­thing that looked very much like a box, al­though I had some­how blocked off the holes that were in­tended as han­dles.

I told my boss there was a de­sign flaw with the han­dles. I call this the lie to save face.


The in­struc­tor at Pump class asked me whether the vol­ume was okay. This was a tough ques­tion be­cause, of course it was way too loud, was al­ways way too loud, but was it my place to say? There were more than 100 peo­ple in that class. Who was I to de­cide the cor­rect vol­ume?

I’m not re­ally a fan of the loud dance mu­sic that adorns the hard­core fit­ness striv­ings of Pump any­way. I would pre­fer al­most any­thing from the day­time playlist on Mix (“Mu­sic from the 70s,

Ly­ing [to my daugh­ter] made me feel so guilty! But she lies way more than I do. She’s al­ways do­ing mean things to her sis­ter and telling us she hasn’t.

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