In junior high I was required to take several classes which I thought, at the time, were completely useless: shop and home economics were top on my list.

Lemon pie on a yellow plate with coffee in the background on a restaurant table.

Keep in mind that my parents worked diligently to raise self-sufficient children. We got no allowance. We got paid for work we did, just like any other farmhand. If you didn’t work, you didn’t get paid. We didn’t get anything handed to us. If you wanted a new record (once upon a time, music was sold on vinyl discs called records), then you got a job, earned money and paid for it. If you wanted anything outside of food and clothing, you got a job, made money and paid for it. By the time I was ten, I had worked several small jobs and had learned to do quite a few things for myself, like woodworking, cleaning cows utters, birthing piglets, mowing lawns, sharpening a knife: all the things they would try to teach me in shop class. Since I was a girl, my mother knew that cooking and domestic duties would be necessary for me to learn, so she taught me to cook, clean and sew: all the things they would try to teach me in home economics class.

At some point in home economics, we were asked to make our father’s favorite dessert. At the dinner table that night, my dad was absent, which had me downhearted. He was on a business trip, so I asked my mother what my father’s favorite dessert was. She said she wasn’t sure, but she had once made him a lemon meringue pie when they were dating that he had gone on about how much he loved it. He had sat down and eaten it with a huge smile on his face, so her best guess was lemon meringue pie.

I wanted to practice so, that weekend, I bought all the ingredients to make lemon meringue pie and worked on it at home. I made a lovely pie (which is NOT an easy flavor of pie to make from scratch, by the way) and presented it at dinner for my family. My father took a slice and ate it with a smile. I went to school the next week and made one heck of a lemon meringue pie. I got an A on my efforts, but not many of my fellow students liked lemon, and I had leftovers. This will be great, I thought. It’s my dad’s favorite, so I’ll bring it home. What a smart teacher to have us make our dad’s favorite so we can bring leftovers home for him.

When I got home that night my mother was out of the house, so I presented a piece of pie on a plate, neatly garnished to my father. He brushed me off saying, “I hate lemon meringue pie, honey. No, thank you.” I was extremely confused. Just last week when I made the pie he had ate it and said how good it was. I let him know my mother had told me about the pie she had made that he loved while they were dating.

He turned to me with his brilliant blue eyes and said, “I know. I hated lemon pie then, and I hate it now, but please don’t tell your mother. She wanted me to like it so much. I didn’t have the heart to tell her, and I still don’t.”

We tell lies to those we love and to ourselves for many reasons. I don’t know why my dad chose to keep his hatred of lemon a secret from my mother, but I’m pretty sure it was love. He truly loved her and could not bear the thought of hurting her in any way. It’s pretty ironic because two people cannot be married for twenty or thirty years and not hurt each other in some way, so this small, simple continuous lie for years was pretty ill-spent. He would’ve been much better off if he’d quit smoking ten or twenty years earlier than he did instead of keeping this stupid lie intact. She would’ve been much happier not to be hurt by the ridiculous expense and nasty habit he kept on with for decades than to find out that long, long ago he’d lied about his love of lemons.

What lies are you keeping stashed away for silly reasons? You might want to reconsider the value of that lie. By the way, although I can make an excellent one, I hate lemon meringue pie.