The Most Famous Lie

Lying. We know it's wrong, but everyone does it. Small lies, white lies, blind lies, big lies, cover ups, embellishing the truth. But in my opinion there is one instance where lying is perfectly acceptable: the protective lie.

By protective lie, I mean lying for the sake of genuinely having someone else's interest at heart; the most famous example of this? Santa Claus. Yes Santa Claus, one great big fat festive fabrication of a man that upholds the magic of least for children. For parents and adults, much of the Christmas period is dedicated to up-keeping this magic and affirming the lie by fleshing out the fibs if and when questioned. Questions such as:

Child: " ...well how come I never see him?"
Adult: " Well, because Santa only comes when you tucked up in bed, sound asleep."
Child: "But how does he manage to go to every house?"
Adult: "He has a magical sleigh with helpers and reindeer."
Child: "But we don't have a chimney, how does he get in?"
Adult: "Erm...he has a key."

Sorry to sound cynical but seriously,  look at how feeble these explanations sound and wonder how anyone in their right mind would be idiotic enough to believe them;  naively we all did at some point.

One of my friends even took her young niece's to go and watch a panto in East London last week. In the car on the way, they happened to pass a dozen men dressed as Santa Claus smoking and boozing it up outside a local pub after doing Santa Dash (a charity Christmas fun run). The conversation went roughly as follows:

Niece: "Why is Santa smoking? Is he not a good man?"
Aunt: "Well those Santa's aren't real darling. The real Santa's in the North Pole making presents for you lot."
Niece:" What? But there's only meant to be one Santa!"
Aunt: "Yes, I know but Santa's such a hero that everyone wants to be him, so they all pretend."
Niece: "Well they're not doing a very good job if they're smoking and not making presents."
Aunt: "Exactly. There's only one Santa!"

Of course even without being interrogated, parents and adults actively engage in further deceit:

"Write a list for Santa and pin it up in the lounge so he knows what you want."
Adult translation: "Give me your list so I can go to Toys 'R Us."

Then there's the added bribery for want of an easier life:
"Santa won't come and deliver your presents if you've been naughty, so make sure you behave!"

But the lies and the bribery are all part of the good will of Christmastime. We lie to sustain the belief, the one reason children are so spell-bounded by the festivity of it all. Receiving presents is always enjoyable, but not as enthralling when you know they've been wrapped by Dad, not elves and are made in China instead of the North Pole. Wouldn't you rather get a gift thinking it was from a magically elusive, white-bearded man than from your parents?  The magic would wear off.

And the magic always wears off quicker when you're the younger sibling- like myself. At the age of  9, when I was at the tender age of  7, my brother, after becoming suspicious about Santa's incomprehensibly magical abilities questioned my father only to be dissatisfied with the answer. Adamant my father was lying, he took it upon himself to set up and wire a video camera which he placed hidden at the bottom of the stairs on Christmas Eve. (Yes, my brother was strangely tech savvy for his age.) Whilst I squeezed my eyes shut hoping Santa would make it to our house, he wanted to stay up and wait for 'Santa'. He kept me awake prodding me and insisting his investigative techniques would uncover the truth. Unfortunately for him we both fell asleep and as I bounded down the stairs to tear open my presents the next morning, he was busy fiddling with camera which he proceeded to connect to the TV. He watched almost the entire video (a still recording of our living room) before hearing light footsteps down the stairs followed by the screen going blank. Clever Dad. Still, even without the evidence he refused to believe the lie and as older siblings often do, he made it his goal to ruin the magic for me too. By that point it wasn't hard. As my scepticism grew and I remember questioning my Dad about how he never helped us open our presents and how he was always catatonic on Christmas morning when every other day of the year he got up for work at 5am. But now it makes sense realising his lethargy was the result of lugging quad-bikes and snooker tables through the front door in the middle of the night.

I tried so hard to hang on to the belief of Santa and I was distraught when I finally figured out (with a helping hand from my older brother) that he was all a lie. It ruined Christmas for me. The magic was gone, there were no flying sleighs, no mystical elves, no Rudloph's. I cried for days and hated my Dad for lying to me just as much as I hated my brother for spoiling the illusion. Christmas was never the same again; I couldn't get over the deception of it all. Now, 18 years later, I'm quite happy to play the role of deceiver to keep a smile on my little sister's face and see the excitement in her eyes for as many years as possible. Why? Because it's the lie that keeps Christmas spirit alive. Santa Claus promotes and instils in children the idea of giving, being kind-hearted and of being appreciative. Parents find enjoyment undertaking a good deed which gives all recognition to Santa to see their child's excitement as Christmas nears, to see their ecstatic reaction on Christmas morning, to see them happy; that's what makes the best lie of all so successful.

Public Display's of Affection (PDA's)

Hand in hand, a peck on the cheek, a gaze in the eyes, a smack on the lips, a nuzzle on the neck, a lick of the earlobe, a lingering kiss, a full on snog, tongues, groping, partial nudity. This is the trouble with public display's of affection (PDA's), there's a fine line between a coy passionate kiss and the re-enactment of a soft porn movie. Why?  Because everyone's idea of what is publicly acceptable varies drastically.

Now I'm a romantic at heart, no matter how aloof my outward displays of emotion are. I like watching old couples hold hands. I like spotting couples having a quick kiss when they think no-ones looking. I like seeing a man's hand move to rest on her lower back, guiding her. I like small, constrained, intimate gestures. What I don't like are sordid, lustrous, over-the-top exhibitions of affection that encroach on my personal space. The usual culprits are frisky teenagers, sexual extroverts and dogging lovers, whom I prefer to call 'doggers'; the kind of people who get turned on knowing other people are watching. The kind of people who revel in the thrill of putting on a performance. The kind of people who readily force others into being their audience like voyeurs at a sex show.

The infliction can happen anywhere; bus stop, train, park bench, in a taxi, on the street...

On one direful occasion, I got front row seats to a steamy PDA session on the last train home and had no way out. I was plotted on a double facing seat by the window opposite a seemingly innocent (although a little inebriated) couple. The train carriage was full and they started off slow. At first it was a soft peck on the cheek and the holding of hands, but as we passed each stop and people filtered off the train I grew increasingly concerned. The journey between each stop was like a lewd scene of their twisted performance. Stop 1, Scene 1: holding hands. Stop 2, Scene 2: biting the neck, Stop 3, Scene 3: a passionate kiss, Stop 4, Scene 4, a rub on the crotch. I remember thinking I had 5 more stops to go and wondered what was coming next. I also wondered if they were going to move to a more 'private' seat as the train was filtering out, but alas! Of course I'd thought about shuffling over to another seat, but at this point (stop 6) the woman's leg was outstretched and rested on the opposite seat, the seat next to me. I'd of had to climb over her leg to escape. It's as if they wanted me there to fulfil their fantasy. At the rate they were going I might as well of had a bag of popcorn. Stop 9, Scene 9: the crescendo. By the time I'd reached my stop there was soft moaning and partial nudity. Call me prudish, but I felt sick as I stood up and loudly muttered "EXCUSE stop." 

Obviously this was an extreme instance of a PDA that left me feeling violated, dirty minded and nauseous. I felt I'd been stripped of whatever virginal innocence I had left although I'm sure this isn't the case for all people exposed to lambent acts of sexual passion. PDA's bring out different reactions in everyone; some like me may be disgusted at the most vulgar displays, others may find it funny or get some form of twisted pleasure from it, and for some it may be a feeling of jealousy. I know for a fact (at least from a female point of view) that jealously can often be the reason behind the hostility towards the more intimate PDA's. The softer more affectionate forms of PDA's  that are shoved in our face remind us that we don't have a boyfriend, girlfriend, partner and when you're caught in the wrong frame of mind, it really is the last thing you want to see. 

Flipping the coin, what happens when the PDA offender is you? As a PDA hater, what would you do if you're going out with a PDA lover and you're the one who's caught up in a steamy display of affection? When I date someone, I usually make it clear from the beginning that I hate PDA's. I'm usually the one who bats their hand off my arse or turns my cheek when they lean in for a kiss, but recently I've been on the receiving end of some unwanted gestures. Last week I went ice-skating at the Rockafella Centre in New York with my guy and I had the sudden urge to kiss him right in the middle of the ice-rink. There were hundreds of people watching but strangely I didn't care, probably because I was caught up in the romance of the occasion. I leaned over to kiss him and he gave me a quick peck on the lips saying "Babe, you know I don't like doing it in front of the kids." I felt like a pervert. I never thought I'd be with someone who hated PDA's more than me. An innocent display of romance wouldn't hurt in a while, just keep the PDA's certificate PG.