Tuesday, January 1, 2013

First World Resolutions

New Year, new resolutions. But has anyone ever, in the history of time ever kept a resolution? I’m pretty sure the safest bet is to just never tell anyone your resolutions, make as many as you want, but if no one knows about them there is very little chance anyone can hold you to them. I learnt this the hard way back in 2003 and have endeavoured to never make another resolution.

As a fourteen year old I was a liar and I was competitive, I am neither any more, but back then these had to be the two central pillars of my little, adolescent personality. Anyway, I had one of those friends who you always end up in little passive aggressive competitions with – who could finish their maths set the quickest, who could get a razor scooter first, who knew more words to Destiny’s Child songs, you know the one. So 2003 rolled around and the clicking over of the New Year led to that inevitable discussion about what resolutions we would be making. I had decided that I was going to sponsor a child. Of course, because the best resolution for a child who DOES NOT HAVE A JOB is to make a financial commitment to another child (who is also sans job. And house. And clean water.) So that was my resolution and it was (rightly) met with a cynical snort from my friend. She didn’t believe I would sponsor a child, she thought I didn’t have the money; “I’ll show her!” I thought.

Jump forward a month and I had all but forgotten my promise to pull a poor, starving African child from the depths of poverty. I had been happily spending my five-dollar-a-week pocket money on candy ears and dolly magazines when my friend enquired about how my sponsor child was doing. What was his name? Where was he from? How old was he? So I took a deep breath, looked her right in the eye… and lied my ass off. Of course.

 “Umm… he’s from Africa, he’s eight years old and his name is Mumble Mumblington. He’s just gorgeous, you’d just adore him!” Very proud of how sincere I had sounded and completely chuffed that I had put my friend in her place I turned to leave and was confronted with every liar’s worst nightmare – a request for confirmation of your entirely baseless lie.

 “Bring in pictures, I’d love to see them!”

“Sure thing.” I responded faux-enthusiastically, and scuttled away.

Unfortunately, the same little mind that came up with this ridiculous lie in the first place forgot this whole exchange almost as soon as it happened. And so another week passed and again I was quizzed on my fictional adopted child – not only did I still not have a photo, but I had entirely forgotten the first name I had made up. To distract from the second quickly and quietly mumbled, pathetic African sounding child’s name I made up (which I am sure sounded nothing like the name I gave a week before), I told her that tomorrow was the day I would remember to bring photos.

As soon as she had gone on her way, surely not believing a word I had said, I broke into a cold sweat. My exposure was imminent. And to have lied about an act of charity? Surely, that was the worst kind of sin! I just never wanted to be proven wrong, and now my pride had got me in all sorts of hot water. I decided there was only one thing left to do. Not confess that I was a liar (HA! we’d come too far for that) no, I would have to legitimately sponsor a child. I went straight to my mum and bargaining away my future birthday present – which was eleven months away, surely this deal would be forgotten by then, I mean heaven forbid I actually sacrifice anything for this person who was essentially a prop in a lie – and was given the money to sponsor a child.

I immediately rang world vision and began making myriad odd requests. Could I sponsor a boy? About eight years old? In Africa? (He was from Swaziland. I’m still not sure this is actually a place, but it sounded like something fourteen year old Maz would tell someone, so that would do perfectly.) Then came the final hurdle; I had asked the World Vision lady to list the names of viable candidates, and much to my growing concern they were all too normal. Tom Smith, Michael Jones, Mark Peters, nothing like the names I had hastily invented, and then… Vusie Magagula. Rejoice! The gods of perjury had smiled down upon me. And that is how I came to sponsor little Vusie Magagula for six years. He did send me letters and photos, and I took them to school, all self-righteous, and showed them to all of my friends. “Look at me, Marion, the selfless truth-teller-extraordinaire” my eyes screamed.

So I learnt that it is not a lie if at some point in time it will be true and that when all else fails, bluff and make up stupid names. Dazzle people with inventiveness to distract them from the bald-faced lie you’re telling them. And sponsor a child, you selfish bastard.

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