Photo: Adobe Stock

I was dolling myself up for a Zoom meeting (yup, Zoom meetings are a happening place!) After receiving my second COVID vaccine, my mood was celebratory: It spelled freedom or its reasonable facsimile.

As I removed a pendant necklace from my jewelry organizer, the chain got tangled within another chain. When I attempted to untangle it, the rest of the chains, that were innocently hanging out, got jolted out of their spots and onto the floor.

After a few expletives, I picked up the tangled chains and gingerly laid them on my bureau. I attempted to untangle them but they became more entangled. Dread filled my being as I looked at the indescribable mess. I called it a day!

The next afternoon, summoning up what little patience I possess, I painstakingly began the untangling process. I used two little needles and poked into the center of the mess. The first attempt to separate the conjoined chains was futile. However, after a week of poking, the chains were freed and happy to go their separate ways.

We humans are sometimes like tangled chains, we become entangled in self-induced or other people’s messes. In his poem “Marmion” Walter Scott writes: “What a tangled web we weave when we first practice to deceive.”

A tad older and hopefully wiser, I try to stay clear of drama, gossip (well, not entirely) and folks who have a perverse dedication to secret sharing. After the year we’ve had, one feels, a little drama and gossip can be titillating, but wait…remember the tangled web?

I read there are eight different kinds of lies: white lies, broken promises, lies of fabrication, bold-faced lies, lies of exaggeration, lies of deception, compulsive lying. Who knew? I suppose Covid isolation lends itself to reading somewhat frivolous material — or is it?

It is purported that George Washington never told a lie. Yet, American history is littered with liars, deceivers, unfaithful lovers, power-hungry men and women — and that’s for starters.

Gore Vidal once described this country as the United States of Amnesia. “We learn nothing because we remember nothing,” he wrote. It’s hard to address mistakes if we are unwilling to face them honestly.

TV series and movies keep us entertained with plot twists that pander to lies, betrayals and deceits. “House of Cards,”“Breaking Bad” “ and “Ozark” have main fictional characters we love to hate.

The operative word is “fictional.” Yet, real life sometimes comes with a gun loaded with big and little lies that we fire at will. Once the smoke clears, it leaves behind extensive collateral damage.

Admittedly I have told some white lies, to get out of something, or not to hurt someone’s feelings. I was all of 20 when I was invited to my soon-to-be-husband George’s home for dinner. His mom served Cornish hen. I am of Italian descent; Cornish hens were not on our menu.

As inconspicuous as possible, I asked George what “that” was on my plate. He answered: “Cornish hen. Looks like a pigeon, right?” Good lord! My gag reflex kicked in. I kept seeing pigeon.

I cleaned my plate by passing little pieces of meat to George. His mom beamed when I told her it was delicious. She served me Cornish hen until George died some 30 years later. Yup, even little lies have consequences.

And then there are the big lies, deceits and betrayals that are capable of destroying everyone and everything in their path. Sometimes it doesn’t come from our enemies or from folks we don’t know, but rather from those close to us.

If you have never been the victim of a big lie, deceit or betrayal consider yourself lucky. But for those who have, we know it can be a shattering experience. The destructive behaviors gaslighting and stonewalling usually work in tandem to create an unsustainable mess.

Gaslighters will deny they heard, saw, or said something that we know to be true. As they continue to deny and refuse to accept responsibility, they attempt to pull us down the rabbit hole — consequently, making us doubt our perception of reality.

Stonewallers use defensive behavior. They refuse to participate in rational communication. They will shoot themselves in the foot and discard their victim, rather than talk things out.

It is said that ignorance is bliss. This may be so, however when we lie to ourselves its self-sabotage. The one-little-slice-of- devil’s-food-cake-is-nothing mindset is a commonplace. By nightfall, crumbs on a plate are the only evidence that we sliced the cake into oblivion. Did the devil make us do it?

We also cherry-pick our deceptions. In the case of infidelity and betrayal, everybody gets hurt — most times the innocent victim. Yet, leading a double life is par for the course for some folks, until it isn’t. The affair is found out, trust is lost and never easily won back, if ever.

For some, lies and deception come too easily. It is done so often they don’t even know what is true and what is a lie. They have no conscience and believe that consequences won’t apply to them. This is the way of a coward. Rest assured, I stand by my work and there will be consequences to pay.

Be forewarned: The last paragraph is karma speaking. Folks, I wouldn’t mess with karma; she is a tough mistress.

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Celia Marszal-Iannelli
Celia Iannelli is a native New Yorker enjoying a second career — in 'retirement' — as a freelance writer. She lives in Jamesport.