I consider myself an honest person. When I’m given too much change or undercharged for a product, I speak up. When I find a lost wallet, I turn it in. If a bill payment is credited to me in error, I call the company to have it reversed. If I make a mistake, I admit it, even when it’s embarrassing, or means my husband gets to gloat that he’s right. I can even let a friend know that the skirt she tried on isn’t doing her any favors. But when I’m put on the spot with no tactful exit in sight, I lie. Before you label me a “hypocrite” and close this post in disgust, please hear me out.
I recently went to celebration of a child’s first communion and confirmation (on hubby’s side of the family). I followed my hubby to a table where three other women sat, two of whom I recognized from previous gatherings.
As we ate, the young woman I didn’t know, who was in her early twenties, began telling of her journey as a Catholic in vivid detail. My hubby went back for seconds (and thirds) and the girl continued her story. I got up at one point to check on the kids and came back with more food. One of the women had left, but the girl didn’t seem deterred. A few minutes after I returned, my hubby’s aunt excused herself, leaving me alone to participate in the conversation. (Not a good place for me, if you recall).
Girl: “I bet they couldn’t wait to leave. You’re probably looking for an excuse to go, too.”
Me: <sheepishly glancing at my empty lemonade cup, which I had downed like an eight-ounce shot> “You’re funny.”
Girl: “Am I funny, or am I right?”
Me: “Oh, uh, funny. I’m not going anywhere.”
That was enough for her to continue. I felt guilty because I had lied. I really did long to wander off somewhere to observe, but I wanted to avoid hurting her feelings more than I wanted solitude. She was a nice girl, even if I wasn’t impressed by her “knowing more about Catholicism than many cradle Catholics.” (I don’t think that knowing the ins and outs of any religion necessarily symbolizes a personal closeness with God. An opinion I thought best to keep to myself.)
I’m not alone in truth-fudging for the benefit of others. Yes, lying can be altruistic. It’s forcing fostering kindness in the face of an increasingly rude society. I’ve been on the receiving end of padded lies. See for yourself:
Chiropractor: “Did you work from home today?”
Me: “Yes. How did you know?”
Chiropractor: “You’re not dressed up.”
Me: <glancing down at my ill-fitting workout style clothes and remembering my unwashed hair held back in a claw clip. “Oh, yes. I probably shouldn’t have left the house looking like this.”
Chiropractor: <she shrugged, but wasn’t facing me> “You look comfortable.”
I snickered because I immediately grasped the hidden meaning behind her innocuous words: “I wouldn’t walk my dog wearing that.”
Friend: <after listening to my latest story idea> “You are so creative.”
Another chuckle, because I know the comment masked the words that couldn’t be said: “You are so frighteningly bizarre, you should probably be locked up.”
I hate to rely on the “everyone does it” argument to defend my own lies…but, well…they do.
Do you have any “kind lies” you’d like to share? I hope so, because they are so much fun!