Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Confession on Lying


I consider myself to be an honest person. However, I must admit to some "youthful indiscretions" where I might have told a fib or two. This instance occurred during the summer right before my senior year in high school.

One night, my parents were out of town and we had the house to ourselves. What did this mean? Of course, we were going to make the most of it. 

While joyriding in a friend's blue truck, reminiscing about an adventure we had earlier that month involving a Red Jetta (I'll save that story for another time), we discovered that the truck had some road flares in the back. We resisted the temptation to light them up and throw them from the truck, but did mentally take note of them for the right opportunity. (This is what we writers like to call "foretelling.")

Later, we found our way back to my house. At the time, I lived in Pleasant Grove in Northern Utah. In the nice, cool evening my friends and I would often sleep in the backyard on our trampoline. With my parents gone, we decided to move the Duckett trampoline from the back of the house to the front yard so we could sleep in the front for a change. Just to add to the visuals, here is a picture of the front of that house (thank you, Google Street Maps):

My parents disallowed the trampoline in the front of the house, because the back of my house it is actually two stories high. My Mom knew if we moved it to the front, we'd be tempted to break her unpardonable rule to never jump from the roof onto the trampoline. Even I wasn't stupid enough to jump from the roof two stories in the back yard, but in the front... my Mom had an awesome sounding idea (see how I'm blaming my Mom for making me do this?). We grabbed a ladder and took turns jumping off the roof onto the trampoline.

That summer, I was trying to get into film making and most of my little adventures that summer were videotaped. I had to get this rare event on tape, so I ran in and grabbed the video camera. After videotaping everybody jumping off several times shouting ridiculous phrases like, "Go Dodgers!", "PG Football!", "I can see my house from here!", and "Geronimo!" I wanted to do something new. Something fresh. Something not seen before. Maybe even something that would be worth talking about for a few days. Then I remembered the road flares.

"Here." I handed the video camera to my sister. She, at first, refused because she didn't know how to work it. But I reassured her with, "Just point it at me, you don't want to miss this." I don't drink, but this might have been the closest I've come to one of those stories that start with, "Here, hold my beer." After she relented, I grabbed two road flares out of my friend's truck and climbed the ladder to my roof.

This seemed to grab everybody's attention. It was time to go big. So, as I lit up the road flares, I started singing the Star Spangled Banner. As I sang, I waved the road flares around and gave it my all. Of course, the small crowd went wild. You love me! You really, really love me! As I reached the climax of the song, I gave a resounding, "And the home of the brave," and jumped off the roof.

For two minutes of singing, the road flares had worked up an ample amount of ash. When I hit the trampoline and my trajectory was rapidly and suddenly reversed, the ash broke off into little red balls of flame.

Panic and pandemonium broke out. Everybody ran over, smacking the trampoline, trying to put out all the little fires. Somebody grabbed a hose, but by the time he came over, everything was under control. I put the road flares out and threw them in the trash. Whew, close call!

We went inside the house to watch the recording. I think the best part was my sister recording the entire event. She didn't know how to zoom so what you saw was my horrible singing (I really should not be singing in public, no matter how patriotic), my jump, and then everybody freaking out like the cops just showed up to break up the fun. We broke into hysterics while watching my sister film her hand stamping out the little flares on the trampoline. We all watched it until we our sides ached from laughing so much.

Later, as we were setting up our sleeping bags, we noticed that the trampoline now had dozens of nickle-sized holes speckled throughout the mat. Oh, great; crisis not averted. My parents were going to kill me! 

The next day, my parents arrived home and they instantly noticed all the holes in the trampoline. They became very upset and asked what happened. My sister looked at me to explain, she wasn't taking the fall for this. I was suddenly overcome with visions of a violent demise at the hands of my parents.

I panicked. And then I lied.

"We were sleeping on the trampoline and some kids in a blue truck drove by and threw fireworks at us. That was when we noticed the holes." Well, that was mostly true. I just didn't mention that the fireworks were actually road flares (a type of firework, right?) and that the kid from the blue truck was actually yours truly. 

My Mom shook her head in disbelief. "Kids these days. No respect for other people's property." They were still angry, but their ire was directed towards some anonymous teenager. I got to live another day! My sister never ratted me out and I thought I got away with it. Until a few years later.

My family moved to Europe a year later for my Dad's third military tour in Germany. I stayed in the States since I had graduated high school and didn't want to live in Germany again.

Imagine my surprise when my Mom called me a year later. "Hey, I've got a little story to tell you. We recorded a show on one of our VHS tapes and when the show ended, your Dad and I were too lazy to turn off the tape and it turned into what was recorded previously on the tape. Do you know what was on there?"

International phone calls were something like three dollars a minute, and I couldn't understand why she was wasting money on such idle talk. I told her I had no idea, wondering where the story was going. "Well, we saw a certain teenager on our roof."

I still hadn't made the connection. "Huh?"

"He was singing the national anthem and waving a road flare."


I stammered. I tried regaining my composure. I couldn't even talk anymore. I had no recourse for redemption. My stupidity had been revealed. "Just consider yourself lucky you live on a different continent right now, son."

Luckily, time heals all wounds and by the time they moved back to the States all was forgiven and I didn't have to follow through on my plans of faking my death, changing my name, and moving to an obscure town in North Dakota. Well, mostly forgiven. I'm still reminded about this on a regular basis.

The moral: Don't lie to your parents. They *WILL* figure it out. It isn't a matter of if, but when. Just make sure you kick your family out of the country before they do.


  1. LOL! love love love it. You must regale to the readers, the the Jetta story. It's your moral imperative.


  2. This is brilliant! I think we all have stories just like this. Our poor parents :)

  3. HA HA HA HA. Excellent.

    Things we can no longer do: sleep on the trampoline. Especially in the front yard. :O

    I want to see the video!

  4. That's hilarious, James. And you're lucky to be alive, period, regardless of what continent your parents were living on when they found out. lol

  5. That is a great story, Thanks for the Belly laugh!

  6. I love it and that you recorded it, even better. I remember something like this when my parents found out years later, from my sister-in-law telling about the time we ditched school in her car. Oh yes, she told, of course we were in 30's and no one was going to do anything then. It was funny. I was the one that no one every thought would do something like that. My sister-in-law lead me down the wrong path. LOL.

  7. Great story, James. I suspect that the two of us share the same vocal future - I'm not even allowed to sing in the shower!

  8. kids are so dumb! what a great story! and the pic is a perfect compliment!
    must have my boys read - dont try this! you will get caught!

  9. If that's the worst you ever do James I think you'll make out okay. Good storey !!

  10. Too funny James! You're a good story-teller...thanks for sharing!

  11. Good story, James. You were a good kid. My stories would be much worse!

  12. Thanks James. My blog is at

    if you want to add you link back to yours.