I Cannot Tell a Lie and Other Modern Day BS

My mom often said, “If you always tell the truth you’ll never have to worry about your memory.” Or was that Mark Twain? I can’t remember.

That’s because I am fast becoming a big fat liar with a mud-clogged memory.

Photo of the flu vaccineHere’s a perfect example…yesterday my husband and I went to Rite Aid to get flu shots. In order to receive our vaccinations we each had to fill out a two-page form. It was standard stuff like name, address, birthdate, email, allergies, yadda, yadda.

My defenses suddenly went up at the sight of this questionnaire though. Why does Rite Aid need to know my birthday and phone number and where I live? So without thinking too hard, I wrote in mostly fake information—a long ago disconnected fax number for my phone number, a PO Box with the wrong zip code, a fake birthday. My husband did the same, as he always does with stuff like this. The difference is that he’s memorized all his fake info. I wing it every time.

This time I got caught.

It was during the third step of this four-step process that it happened. After we filled out the paperwork a pharmacist entered our data into a computer, and then told us to go stand in a different line to pay at another counter. We waited for eons, then finally made it to the front where another pharmacist, Stacy, asked us for our birthdays so she could pull up our records on her computer.

My husband churned his out effortlessly. I, on the other hand, couldn’t remember which random date I had chosen. Between my daughter trying to convince me to let her buy stuffed animals and all sorts of things she didn’t need and me trying to find a new pair of reading glasses, that piece of information evaporated from my memory.

“July…ummm…let’s see…July 7th ? Ummm…1967? Yeah, that’s it, July 7th,” I stammered like John Lovitz in his 90’s SNL skit.

“Are you sure?” The pharmacist looked at me like I was insane.

She typed it in, then shook her head. “You don’t know your birthday?” When I murmured to my husband that I couldn’t remember which date I had written, her eyebrows flew up, then her annoyed eyes harpooned me.

I chuckled nervously then finally came clean. “Ok, ok, I have to admit I put a fake birthday. I’m a little paranoid about where all this information ends up on databases.”

I thought maybe she’d try to reassure me about their secure database or tell me that she understood my concern, but without so much as a smirk, she tramped off to the other computer to retrieve my fake information.

When she returned, punching in my birthday a little too hard on her keyboard, I was tempted to ask Stacy what day I was born, but I knew that it might incite an extra hard stab with the needle during step four of this already painful process.


All this nonsense left me simultaneously chuckling and cringing at how absurd our lives have become. Our techno society with never-ending databases and online everything has turned us into pathological liars as we attempt to maintain our privacy and security.

Who doesn’t curse every time when trying to recall one of a bazillion passwords and usernames? Was it hubbabubba@1*2 or Nincompoopx10?! Am I writingchiquita or worddiva? Am I sassafras or sassypants?

All these aliases are turning my brain to mud.

And it’s not only online. I thought my daughter would keel over laughing when the clerk at Office Max looked at me and said, “Thank you Ms. LaStrange,” as we completed our back to school shopping. At some point I had signed up for a rewards card under the name Sophia LaStrange. I’m also Betty Boop at Ralph’s, Lulu LaMoor at Safeway, and Penelope Popcicle at World Market. And of course I mostly use phone numbers from long ago.

My husband has his share of names and numbers too. You can imagine. And now our young daughter is joining the insanity too, as she is required to remember online names and passwords for her school homework.

Fortunately, our dog Doodles still goes by his real name. After all, to whom would all those marketing gurus send junk mail…not to mention his free subscription of Family Circle?

Photo of Doodles with his Family Circle magazine

©2013 Becky Green Aaronson-The Art of an Improbable Life

30 thoughts on “I Cannot Tell a Lie and Other Modern Day BS

  1. This is hilarious, Becky! I never thought of creating fictitious identities. I’d be caught in no time, if I did. My daughter and I recently got our flu shots at Walgreen’s. But we use vouchers my health insurance company sends us (can only be used at Walgreens) and the vouchers have our info on it, so we just hand it to the pharmacist and get our shots, and that’s it. Took no more than 15 minutes.

  2. This is too funny! I’ve never given wrong info when I had to fill things out, honestly I never thought to do it. But Chrys Fey is a pen name, so I guess that counts as an alias. ;)

    • Thanks, Jessica. Who knew all it would take is the absurdity of a flu shot to anchor my active butt back into my writing chair? Thanks for reminding me how much I like blogging!

  3. I like your idea of using all the fake information for random forms like this, but since I can’t remember my real information half the time (I depend on Evernote to keep it all straight for me for a new doctor form) I’d never succeed at this level of whimsy. What a great story.

    • I may have to look into Evernote too, as I’m obviously having a hard time keeping it all straight! Thanks for swinging by to share your two cents.

  4. When I put a fake birthday on my FB page and friends wished me Happy Birthday on the fake day I had to “fess up” but no one understood. The following year when people wished me on the wrong day I just thanked them :-)
    So glad to see I’m in good company.

  5. Becky- I love this piece. so funny and I get irked when they have the race line- I always put “human.” and I do feel sorry for one of my brother’s who still gets mail addressed to Kenny Baby.

    • Thanks, Elizabeth. The race thing is nuts too. It’s all about marketing. That’s why I love it when Doodles gets his Family Circle, and we can trace where other junk mail originates.

  6. Oh, this had me laughing, Becky! You’re right–our lives have become so weird with so much of our private info out there and so many passwords to remember. I have so many usernames I can’t remember who I’m supposed to be. And we’re not supposed to write any of our passwords down. How can we remember all this stuff?

    • Laughter is the best medicine, right? What else can we do but try to embrace all that technology gives us, while figuring out a way to keep our sanity. Clearly, I’m still trying to master that part!

      I’ve heard one way to remember your passwords is to create a story in your life that only you would know like: “adoptedmycat85″ then add a couple different symbols somewhere to make it stronger. Interestingly, they say that a 4-digit password, like those for an iPhone only takes a hacker 15 minutes to break, but a 9 digit password takes 2 1/2 years.

  7. Right on, Rebel Becky!! You so perfectly captured the madness. Thanks for the laughs! I missed your blog over the summer. Glad to see you’re back!!

    • Thanks, Rhonda. I’m glad to be back. I’ve missed writing my blog and connecting with you and so many others. My recent flu shot experience made me wonder if others are as annoyed/humored/frustrated with all this “mandatory” information sharing as I am. Based on everyone’s comments, it seems I’m not alone.

  8. Oh no, you got caught! Penelope Popsicle — that’s hilarious. I changed my own moniker for your comment form. :)

    But you are so right! It infuriates me when companies ask for all of this personal data. There is no need. I use fake names and birthdays online as well — and sometimes get locked out of things if I can’t remember! But it’s still worth it.

    My son got his first voice mail… about two days after he was born. It was a computer voice, telling him about his next checkup at the doctor’s. Being sentimental, I recorded it playing back on the machine, so that someday I could share with him his first voicemail. Then I thought — this is crazy! I was hoping it’d be from his grandmother, or my sister or someone who mattered, not a computer.

    It’s everywhere, this permeation of technology into our lives. A lot of it is for the best; I have great uses for some forms. But the personal information requirements are insidious. I so enjoyed your post!

    • Daisy, you are a hoot!

      I am trying to embrace all this technology stuff because it’s not going away, but it’s obviously making me a little nuts. Glad to know I’m not alone, Ms. Duke!.

    • I do have something like that, but of course all the security people tell you never to do that because if somebody gets a hold of it, you’re toast. It’s all so nutty. Ha ha. Glad you got a kick out of this post.

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