Can you handle the truth?

Mark Twain, 1907

Mark Twain, 1907 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything – Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)

Uh oh….I caught one of my friends in a lie. (No, it’s not you! It’s one of my friends who doesn’t read my blog! You wouldn’t lie to me, would you?) 

It’s just an itty bitty one. The kind of lie that makes it easy to get out of something without saying, “I don’t want to do that.” The problem is that she doesn’t keep a diary of lies told so she contradicted herself a week later. Oops!

I wasn’t even offended. I lived in New Jersey for a while so I have a thick skin. You can tell me if you don’t want to do something or you don’t like something and I’m ok with it. I probably don’t like some stuff about you too. (No, not you directly, just some clothes you have or movies you like.)

Statistics say that people lie several times a day. Most are harmless and for convenience. For our purposes we will not talk about those lies that result in death.

“No your butt doesn’t look big in those pants.” This is a tough one. I can’t even imagine telling someone their butt looks big, even if it’s jinormous. Perhaps changing the strategy to “that color of black isn’t as attractive as some of the other black pants.” Or maybe the problem is that they should wear black instead of lime green stretchies.

“You new hairdo is flattering to your head shape.” There is nothing worse than hearing the truth about your new haircut when you hate it yourself. Yes, I know it grows out. That doesn’t make it easier. This is an acceptable lie no matter what. Guys are exempt from this one. They really don’t care about their hair so let ’em have it.

For heaven’s sake, don’t go asking bald women if they are done with chemo. I have a friend who gets asked that all the time. She has a condition. If people don’t stop asking her about her semi-bald head, her condition will include maniacal homicide.

“Sorry, I have to go. Someone is at the door (or the phone is ringing or I have a meeting)” This is a beautiful lie because it can’t be verified unless the person is at the door.

The problem with lies, even those itty bitty white ones, is that you have to remember what you said. Sometimes the truth comes out in other ways.

“I’m sorry I can’t join you. I have a headache.” Then another friend talks about the great time they had at another function. Oops!

My personal favorite is when a phone conversation is going south. You start to act like the connection is bad and you can’t hear, then you hang up. Works every time (or maybe the other person knows what you’re doing and gives up?) This one is especially good for conversations with boring people.

There are spousal lies. Most of these are told when the couple is young. There is a certain point where both parties just stop the deception because no one cares. Yes, the butt lie fits here but you need to continue to deny its growth. Some examples of early lies include these.

“I’ve saved you money. This stuff was on sale at incredible prices.” Truth be told the purchaser took a red pen and marked down the tags herself. Hopefully she will get the credit card bill first. (I had a friend who did this ALL THE TIME!)

“I had to work late.” This one covers a lot of territory from a quick drink with the boys (but not enough to make the eyes glassy) to a quick shopping trip (hide those packages).

We are not even going to discuss the ultimate deception of an affair. That is just a blatant lie totally unacceptable at any time. It comes under the category of lies that may result in death.

As for my friend, I will continue to take her at face value. She’s a nice person who doesn’t want to hurt my feelings. That is so sweet. She thinks I have feelings.

“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
― Mark Twain 

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”
― Oscar Wilde 

“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”
― Gloria Steinem

PS: Just a note — The beloved husband is a descendant of Mark Twain. He has the same fuzzy eyebrows. Twain was considered the black sheep of the family. I married the white sheep.

20 thoughts on “Can you handle the truth?

  1. I hate it when I catch someone in a lie. I never know if I should call them on it or just let it pass. I do try to be as honest as I can, but I think the way I have perfected “avoidance” and “stalling” on some answers is probably tantamount to lies, they just sit a little prettier! You’ve got me thinking, Kate. 🙂

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  2. Very funny, Kate. Many truths here. I’ve been tempted to do the phone lie. “(making static noise) I’m sorry I have a bad connection. Have to go … ” (line’s now dead)

    I embrace Mark Twain’s “if you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” So true. But some still want to embellish or outright lie.

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  3. I think you’re right: It’s better to tell the truth, especially if you can think of a nice and truthful way to say you want to hang up now or that you don’t want go out to lunch or to that movie with your friend. The trouble arises when you can’t think fast enough. It’s best to neither lie nor to hurt someone’s feelings … if you’re fast-thinking enough.

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  4. No need for me to go further. At work, we are the biggest liar ever! Politicians, #1. But one has to be careful one says even though it’s the truth. But then again, when things are said in jest, there is truth to that. Good one, Kate!.

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  5. The problem with just about everyone telling little lies all the time is that now businesses think it’s the thing to do, too: like that big one over the phone: “Your call is very important to us.”
    Nice post – really,,,not just saying that….I did to read the whole thing. Uh, have to go now…

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  6. Some time ago, a blogger lied about a story of which I happened to have first-hand knowledge. The self-serving nature of his skewed recitation gave me greater insights into his character than any number of “truths” he might have shared. His lies revealed his truth.

    Conditioned to please
    we bend the truth to suit our
    listener’s deaf ears

    Maybe if we were all a bit more honest, people would actually tune in and hear what we are saying. 😐

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  7. The phone one is my favorite!
    I lie to my dog. “You’re not chubby. You’re beautiful!” It’s not completely a lie. She IS beautiful.
    Sometimes I lie about that unidentified smell. “Must have been the dog.”

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  8. I once worked as a trainer for a state agency. I worked with a man who was fascinating in the classroom. He told the best stories, and most of his stories were true, except he was telling the stories of others as his own, when he had never done one of the things he claimed to have done. Instead, he’d sign up on chat boards and “borrow” the stories of others. And he would tell the stories so often he’d actually believe he’d done these things.

    I hated the guy because I worked my ass off to try to be a great trainer, and all this guy did was tell lies and entertain his class. But the powers that be liked him better, because trainees loved his tales.

    So, was he a liar? Or was he just a smarter trainer than I was?

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    • Ah the old trainer lies. I was a trainer too and occasionally still do gigs. There are some chestnuts that all trainers (except me) told like taking the microphone to the bathroom. I was always amazed that people thought that was funny. Good trainers are part entertainers. You have to get someone to listen to teach them and adults have a very short attention span. Personally I hated the trainers who told all those old stories unless they directly related to the subject. They reminded me of the boring old guys at parties that you try to get away from.

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