EPISODE II: The Truth in Lies
// JJ Brewis

To me, dating is weird. It’s messy, doesn’t come naturally, and is filled with an onslaught of terrible side effects. One of the most terrible by-products in the dating realm for me, personally, has been dealing with lies.

We’re all full of them. We tell innocent little lies to people every day: reasons why we’re late, or that new haircuts look nice. But the truth of the matter is that we’d all be much better off if we were accountable for being late to work rather than blaming it on heavy traffic, and our friends might actually appreciate it if we gave them a heads up that their new ‘do actually, quite frankly, looks like shit.

Yet we’ve all been there. We’ve covered things up with reasons untrue just to make the big picture seem more tolerable for everyone affected. I went on a date a while back with a guy named Oliver who, according to his online dating profile, was a sciences student in his mid-20s who looked like a personified version of Archie comics badboy Reggie Mantle. I was sold, and when I met him for tea, I already had been fed an image and an idea of whom I was meeting. Unfortunately, as soon as he showed up to the table, the masterpiece started chipping away, and the fragments de-compartmentalized in front of my eyes.

“You pick out which slushie you want?” I looked up at a young boy – a child – staring back at me, in an awkwardly oversized sweater whose sleeves only emphasized his nervous twitching hands. Thinking I was speaking to one of the establishment's young waiters, I said “No, sorry,” and went back to my menu waiting for date to arrive. He laughed the most ear-piercing, snorting laugh, and I looked back up to him. “It's me, silly!” he said, plunking himself into the chair across from me. As I studied his face, if I squinted very carefully, he almost kind of sort of made a vague assemblage of the photos I saw online. “You look quite different than in your photos,” I said. “You look much younger in person.”

It was quite clear that the photos from his profile were either heavily manipulated, or not his own at all. He had also claimed to be 25 years old, and taking one look at him made that very obviously an untruth.

“So … how old are you?” I asked. His arms seemed to retreat even further into the depths of the blanket-sweater, his eyes shifting from left to right. I got the impression that he had not done this many times before. I hated to make him feel like a number, but I couldn't even count the number of times I've been on a one-off date with someone that didn't go any further. It's the nature of these things.

I often compare going on dates to taking a trip to Value Village: you're going to have to flip through countless hopeless-looking garments before stumbling upon the one thing that fits perfectly. At any rate, the evening was off to a terrible start.

“I'm not actually 25,” he said. “I'm 24.” I gave him a look that clearly showed no sign of relief, and he eventually worked his way down to the truth that he was in fact 18 years old. Being almost ten years his senior, my feelings of irritancy immediately changed to feeling like a creepy old man.

The rest of the date didn't last long, as we had barely anything in common to talk about. He did come clean though, and explain to me that he wasn't a second-year Pharmacy student, but a fresh-out-of-high-school employee of the same drugstore chain that I worked at when I was his age; I guess I saw a bit of myself in him for that. I may once have oversold myself, or completely repackaged my story for the sake of someone else being more interested in it. It made me sad, but I was also still hung up on the idea of buying into a complete bullshit story and being made a fool of.

In most situations, I'm very capable of taking care of myself, and making an honest, informed decision about how I'm going to behave in a way that will be fair to everyone. I think in the context of this date, I was just so utterly turned off by the pointless lies and cover-ups that I couldn't make a reasonable decision. So, I did what anyone with a clouded conscience and a slightly angered mind would do: I waited for him to go to the washroom, and I left. I thought I had resigned myself to an entire outing with this strange misfit, but as soon as the bathroom door shut, I grabbed my bag and walked out of the restaurant, dashed for the car, and got the hell out of there.

He texted me later, asking me what happened. “I had an emergency,” I told him, a boldfaced lie covering up the awkwardness and discomfort in the reality of why I'd fled. But I think he knew that ultimately it was a trade-off. Not only had we both lied to each other, but we'd both learned something: he'd realized the pointlessness of selling a false version of himself, and I had discovered that I don't have it in me to lie to someone that blatantly.

The next day, I sent him a message explaining why I'd left. I let him know that in the future, he would be better off fishing in a pond closer to home, so long as the bait he used wasn't artificial.

JJ Brewis is quite possibly the keenest member of our editorial staff. He has been writing columns on various topics for the Courier for three years, and is now revisiting

//JJ Brewis, columnist

// Graphics by Lydia Fu

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