Friday, March 15, 2013

Everybody Lies

Honesty is tricky business, isn't it?  We all want to be transparent, all want to be shining beacons of clarity and truth, but the light from that beacon can be a very harsh glare.  Not everyone appreciates having a beacon of clarity so close by, so ready to shine.

I have told many whoppers in my time, sure some of them were told purely for sport, but some of those lies were used to cover my own ample derriere.  It took me many years to figure out that the non-sporting lies were more trouble than they were worth, that the telling of them diminished me and trying to keep up with them was exhausting.

As a cook, people will lie to you all the time.  They'll tell you they liked the food when they didn't because they don't want the cook's feelings to be hurt.  It took me many years to practically beat that impulse out of my friends and family, when it comes to food especially, DO NOT LIE to me.  That won't help anything, the food won't get better and the poor chef will think she's done well.

My other best friend Tess is my go to test subject for new dishes, she has an amazing palate that we've spent years educating and will tell me every tiny thing that is liked or disliked.  It never gets ugly, I don't get defensive because my goal is to make the best dish, not just an ok dish and Tess feeds me the purest truth.

I became a truth teller after my daughter died, I had no more patience for the petty and meaningless lies of kindness that are so rampant.  I got slapped up with a harsh dose of reality, that a kind lie is more hateful than any other kind and true love required true honesty.

It's not an easy thing to do every day, particularly with strangers who don't understand that I'm not actually trying to crush their hopes and dreams.  It's not easy to crush my own, but if I don't smack down my own lies with equal or greater ferocity, then truth telling is completely pointless.

I still lie in many ways, I loathe my next door neighbor, she loathes me but we still pretend and make pained and polite conversation with each other when forced.  But to be honest, because I'm telling the truth right now, I haven't gone off on her because Clyde won't let me.  She really has no idea all the hits my husband has protected her from all these years, NO IDEA.

And I lie to my dog, all the time, every day, every moment of every day I lie to the Blue.  I tell him he's my favorite puppy dog ever (lie), that he's the toughest pit bull on the planet (lie,lie) and that I would be nowhere without his diligent security measures (whopper lie).  Ours is a relationship built on lies, my lies anyway, since Blue is a dog, he's very honest about how he feels about me.

I'm a distant third, sometimes fourth on Blue's list of favorite people and he never lets me forget that.  I don't hate him for being honest, I kind of respect it and it's never a lie when I look into his eyes and tell him exactly how much I miss my last dog Harry.

But that's family for you, they are still required to wag their tails even though you're honestly not their favorite.


  1. Absolutely loved this, Cairn. I'm trying to move towards being absolutely truthful and it's hard for an ex-people-pleaser like me. But we'll get there, eventually.
    Dogs don't lie, that's why I love them!

    1. I'm not convinced that 'absolute' truth is something to strive for. I'm a fiction writer, so am kind of a liar professionally lol! Oftentimes we lie to protect ourselves from conflict, necessary conflict, and those are the lies we have to watch out for the hardest.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks :) I do love my Blucifer, even though he's a diva.

  3. Although we want to be honest with people, many folks just aren't ready for it. I've especially seen this in critique groups where the writer asks for advice yet becomes defensive and even hurt when you offer it. I can't stand that! Don't ask for my help if you're not willing to listen to what I have to say.

    1. Interesting you should mention that Joyce, Monday's blog will be addressing the critique situation :)

  4. Thanks for the thoughtful post, Cairn. I tell few lies these days, but I'm still capable of unleashing a whopper now and again. Yes, I will lie to avoid hurting someone's feelings if I think that person has a fragile ego or if I think the truth will be disruptive. My sister-in-law's husband and I don't like each other, but in the highly unlikely event that she asks me, I will lie to her face and say I like him just fine. As for critique groups, though, I'm with Joyce. No one's writing improves by being lied to.

    When my son was a youngster, he had a propensity for blurting outrageous things. Once, in front of family, he looked at me and said, "Dad, when do you lie?" "You should never lie," I said after clearing my throat a few times. "I know," he said, "but when do you lie?" "People lie for all kinds of reasons," I said. "No," he said. "When do YOU lie?" I couldn't say I never lie--I'd look like the biggest liar ever--so I said, "Sometimes, to stay out of trouble." That ended it, but it was uncomfortable. But it was the truth.

  5. Oh that reminds me of the time when my kids were in grade school. We were walking to school one morning and passed a police cruiser parked in front of a house with 2 officers inside. It was a lovely morning so they had the windows rolled down and could hear very easily as we passed.
    Son, "Why is there a cop car on our street?"
    Daughter, "Dunno, there's no doughnut shop here."

    Oh boy did I get a look.

  6. Enjoyed your post. Sometimes a white lie is appropriate - I'm not sure we have the ability to be completely truthful. Dogs love you no matter what.

    1. I agree, too much of anything, even truth, can be bad for the system. Thanks for commenting :)