Why I Prefer the Word “Fib”

In my first semester at college — what I laughingly referred to as the real world — communication with my parents was sparse, as the times demanded. There was only one Sunday afternoon phone call because Long Distance struck fear into my parents’ thrifty hearts. My mother and I wrote letters the rest of the time. Hers have not survived, but because she saved any piece of paper that might possibly shame and embarrass me in future decades, mine have.

And here I’d like to call into service the word fib for what went on in my letters. It’s a fine word. By relocating to a state college 250 miles away from home, somehow I felt I’d moved to a different planet. I was living a life I knew my parents could never understand. So a little fiction was called into action so they wouldn’t worry. It was for their own good.

* * *

By October I was stretching the word fib to its limits. This letter preceded a weekend trip home, fall of freshman year.

My Letter:
I’m not sure if I’ll be able to leave for home on Friday night or if I’ll have to wait until early Saturday. Dr. Tomlinson is telling us tomorrow whether we’ll have class that afternoon.

The Truth:
I hadn’t been to Dr. Tomlinson’s class since the first week of the semester. I had no idea if we had class on Friday. I couldn’t have identified Dr. Tomlinson in a lineup.

* * *

Apparently, in the middle of all my other tall tales, I told them that lots of boys were asking me on dates, but I was putting schoolwork first. They chided me a little, saying that I should go out more and have more fun.

My Letter:

I really think studying is more important than boys right now. Sorry I’m not dating or dancing on tables as much as you think I should. That probably sounds snotty but it wasn’t meant to be.

The Truth:

I’d known a lot of dancing. I’d conquered a few tabletops.

And it was definitely meant to sound snotty.

* * *

Early on, I fell in love with a lacrosse player. He was sort of a legend.

My Letter:
I don’t think it’s fair that you’ve judged Nick without meeting him yet. Lots of boys in college have nicknames. He’s not wild! He’s a good person.

The Truth:
His nickname rhymed with Nick. If you’re doing it in your head, any one of the possibilities will work.

* * *

Finals went on first semester in spite of my prayer for a tornado to touch down on the Old Main building the night before. I didn’t want anyone to get killed, of course. Just enough of a funnel cloud that my professors’ grade books would be destroyed for all time.

My Letter:
I can’t believe how hard I’m working! I studied all day Saturday and most of Sunday. I’ve really turned a corner. If all goes well, I’ll have an A in at least one course!

The Truth:
Dear Parent:
Enclosed you will find a copy of the Low Grade Summary Report sent to your son/daughter. He/She is already aware of his/her standing in these courses and will be instructed to meet with his/her advisor. You may be assured that we are concerned, and we hope that the quality of your student’s work will improve.
Maxwell O’Donnell
Assistant Dean

[Dear Reader: I’ll be back next Thursday, July 16th. Thanks for being here. Really.]

5 thoughts on “Why I Prefer the Word “Fib”

  1. I worked for a while as a college advisor specifically assigned to students returning after the first attempt didn’t really go as planned (well, as the parents planned). One dad went all the way to the Registrar with the fib-telling son before the lightbulb went off and the dad finally figured out his son’s first year at college didn’t occur in any kind of classroom. (The son couldn’t name any of his teachers or “identify them in a lineup” and that finally pushed the dad to see the light. I was friends with the Registrar, and it broke her heart to see the dad’s face fall and body slump nearly off of the chair.) At midlife, I know that it all works out in the end, but it can be rocky there for a while as young adults seek to test out their wings!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was one of the lucky parents my son played a lot and worked hard and made it through with pretty good grades. I would get texts saying homework done or paper finished now it is time to PARTY for the rest of the weekend just have to be sober by Monday at 11am. Then I would get a text about 10:30am saying OH god I am so hung over but I am off to class…oh hell when is death coming…I would just have to laugh

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I too would “fib” to my folks. Also not only could I not identify my teachers in a line up, I needed a map to get to some classes on campus for the finals I decided to give a chance. The bars and party houses, I was giving guided tours to those. I think my best fib was, “Parents, I just don’t think school is for me right now. I want to take a little time off and see what career I should pursue”. The truth, my GPA resembled triple bagels, and I was asked to leave school.

    Liked by 1 person

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