There’s nothing more devastating to friends and family than announcing you’ve just placed more trust in the words of a stranger than in them. No, not just for candy or a safe ride home, but for important things like “does this make my hair look short?” – the advice, the ego strokes – the things they try to tell you all the time.
See, here’s a simple truth – family and friends (the ones you haven’t crossed recently) lie. It’s their first and most sacred duty after they’ve surrendered themselves to the fact that they love you or at least will send a card for your funeral. Since you also love them in return, it is your moral duty to return the favor and also lie.
Take for example the recent trip I took with my good friend Anna. As we stood beneath the gigantic cypress filled with pigeons trying to locate a Geocached treasure, a kind bird bestowed a bit of well-digested lunch on us. Anna screamed, I leapt back and immediately began to whine that there was this microscopic spot on my arm. “Beth, are you looking at me?” See, never a good question and as I took a closer look at Anna, I realized no sympathy was going to come my way for this tiny dollop on my arm. The next question, one that caused a bit of a friendship crisis on my part, was “Beth, is it in my hair?” I froze and reviewed my options. I mean, it was REALLY maybe the biggest plop of… well, you get the idea… that I had ever seen on another person’s head . I’m pretty sure nothing quite that size has even hit my car. If she were a character on a sitcom, the laugh track would have been cued at this moment. I tried to think of a way I could possibly say “no”. I wish I were joking, but in truth I really didn’t want to be the one to say “yes”. The problem was, I knew I couldn’t figure out a way to trick her into sticking her head in the sink in the public restroom. Plus, I may have mentioned I am a dreadful liar – she would have seen right through me. She would never have fell for the ol’ “hey, let’s get that off your arm and while we’re in the restroom, let’s do something zany like stick our heads under the faucet. Look I’ll do it, too. Isn’t this fun?” because it turns out I’m kind of prissy and not particularly spontaneous. She wouldn’t have fallen for it.
All of this took place in a split second, but in Beth’s Panicked Brain Time, it was around 5 painful minutes before I got out the “yes” bit and proceeded to look around nervously. You see, I was torn between wanting my friend to think the best of herself – that she was bird-poop-free and the thought of how much trouble I’d get in once she figured out she had a bird poo sized beret as head decoration(which would have taken all of a second thanks to the whole can’t lie thing).
As further proof – I may have mentioned the time my friend was hit by a car in front of our high school. We were meeting up to run errands, but summer school was in so cars were supposed to obey the school speed zone rules. Julie came up to me plucking rocks from her leg. (I thankfully hadn’t seen the accident.) She had been thrown a good 10 feet along the asphalt, but the school officials sized her up and declared that she was good to walk home. Later, my step mother who was a nurse patiently explained that being an oblivious self-absorbed teen dunce was no real excuse for letting a friend walk home after being struck by a car (who knew?) and that just because the teachers let her go was no excuse. Would I dance naked in the trophy case if all the teachers were doing it, too? No, I don’t think so. You see, I was held to a higher standard than the morons who clearly ran our school. I digress. As we were walking to her house, she talked about how one of our friends who had also been hit by a car worried about how he might have torn his clothes – she was concerned about this as well, and she was very thankful she hadn’t. With each step, her clothes gaped and waved at me, daring me to let on as she told the story. I mean the girl had just had something fairly traumatic happen, she’d been hit by a car, the school had let the driver go without getting his name (this might have been why my parents didn’t hold my teachers in high regard) and really who was I to say “yeah, about that clothes thing…” You just can’t tell someone who has asphalt embedded in their skin that their clothes are ripped apart in the back. What kind of friend would I have been
See, sometimes you just lie or stretch the truth a tad to avoid hurt feelings. Sure, everyone you know whether they’re friend or family is beautiful and smart and talented – maybe to varying degrees, but you love them just the same and that’s how you see them – or at least that’s how it should be – obviously, there are exceptions and those people should be put on an island for mean people and lose the right to procreate. I’m just suggesting.
Now, in my case it just so happens that all of my friends and family do happen to be brilliant, beautiful and gifted. As a group, they’re also fairly supportive for being terrible liars. Bless their hearts. In fact, I tend to get a little suspicious when they become too flattering and the flattery is entirely unprovoked. Do they need something? Is someone about to die? Yes, I’m adorable. Now is grandmother ok? Or maybe they’re worried my self-esteem is about to nosedive and they’re going to find me rocking quietly