The very first lie I ever told, I told without saying anything at all
If you let people talk, people will think you’re much older than you actually are. Shutting up is the ultimate power move. See, the funny thing about the lies I told as a teenager is that I didn’t say much at all. I played into assumptions. And I listened.
This is what I looked like at 14.
I was with my family here. At dinner in Paris (ooo she fancy). The most delicious moments for me at that time in my life were the moments I stood up from the table. I quickly learned how it felt to have eyes on me. And I liked it.
I got up from the table in this restaurant to use the bathroom and… eyes. Immediate eyes. From every corner of the room. People watched me as I moved. Men. Women. Everyone.
I didn’t realize then that I was learning to only value myself for my sex appeal. But I was. With every glance, I ingrained it deeper: thou shalt not change this body, because this body is worth gold.
As I walked towards the bathroom I stopped focusing on what was in front of me. I swayed my hips and felt the eyes double. I tossed my hair and felt the eyes stare harder. Harder. I liked the feeling. I pursed my lips until -
A server in a tight, cheeky uniform was suddenly chest-to-chest with me. He breathed in sharply and I felt his chest expand, pressing against the space between us. His eyes were glued to mine. I smiled, experiencing this power for the very first time.
I knew no French at the time, so I squeaked out, “It’s okay. Um, bathroom?”
And that’s when the power shifted. He grabbed the reins, smiled that dumb Fench smile, and gestured down a corridor. “Allow me to escort you,” he said, in an equally dumb French accent.
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He walked ahead but kept his body tilted to one side so I’d never view him from behind. A perfect power move. I studied him from the side. Light scruff. Tight pants. Tighter shirt. He smiled back at me. “Here on holiday?”
“Yes,” I said through a smile, finding it impossible to utter any more words to elongate my answer.
There was never any ulterior motive behind my aversion towards gabbing. At the time, I had no clue that letting people talk would make people think I was older. Shutting up was pure instinct.
I believe that for every human born on this planet for however many more centuries are to come, there will always be an innate instinct implanted into them to go on high alert when following a stranger down a corridor. But that instinct isn’t necessarily a fear of something bad happening to them. That instinct can also be a fear of getting caught. By whomever has the authority.
For me, at 14, that authority was my parents.
Because following a stranger down a corridor can also feel good. I will kindly remind you of the tight pants, tighter shirt, and dumb French accent a few paces in front of me. It feels sexy. It feels naughty. It feels oh so scandalous. The only thing that could ruin it, would be getting caught. That high alert instinct didn’t translate to fear for me. It translated to keeping tight lips to prevent my adventure from weaseling its way back to my parents. Because somehow they’d always weasel their way in…
“It must be nice to be together as a family,” he said, continuing the small talk. I nodded. Fuck. That’s exactly what I was trying to avoid: any mention of my parents.
In my mind, him talking about my parents was a step towards the adventure ending. I knew what I was doing wasn’t totally okay. Even if I didn’t know why. Even if I didn’t want to admit it. I only knew if my parents found out, the adventure would end. And the mention of my family sent shockwaves up my spine, screaming at my 14-year-old brain: “DO NOT LET HIM KNOW MORE.”
So I didn’t let him know more. I didn’t give any more information other than the nod. I continued walking. I continued smiling. That is, until -
“And it’s nice for you to have a break from university.”
Ding. Ding. Ding. There it was. The most glorious assumption. I could have corrected him. I could have told him I was 14 years old. But let me paint a picture for you of how it felt to have a pair of tight pants assume you to be 20 plus at 14.
It feels like sex while still a virgin.
It feels like two golden retrievers cuddled up next to you on the couch.
It feels like skinny dipping in the neighbor’s pool at 2am while the neighbor is asleep.
You think a 14-year-old has the wherewithal to give that up? Bullshit.
I nodded and asked, “What university do you attend in Paris?”
He answered. He babbled. No idea what he said. I was too nervous upholding my university posture. He brought me to the bathroom. Then he left. Nothing happened between us.
Except everything happened to me. Because I learned how to lie that night. I learned that it’s not about talking the talk. It’s about walking the walk, and letting others talk the talk for you.