The truth is very important. “The truth shall set you free,” comes to mind as a widely-quoted aphorism about truth. But that’s from the New Testament, and we don’t all ascribe to the New Testament, so let’s go to a more universal source: Hollywood. Ah, the immortal words of Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men”. Say it with me, “You can’t handle the truth!”
But there are more wonderful truisms about truth that we don’t hear all that often. Here are a few of my favorites:
“How many legs does a dog have if you call his tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.” --Abraham Lincoln
“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” –Gloria Steinem
“Truth is our element.” --Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Like all dreamers I confuse disenchantment with truth.” --Jean-Paul Sartre
“Truth is mighty and will prevail. There is nothing the matter with this except that it ain’t so.” --Mark Twain
"I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it's hell." --Harry S. Truman
Okay, you get it—I value truth. But who among us doesn’t say that they do? We all say we do, but we each walk a different path. For some of us, truth is concrete, inflexible and rigid. For others, everything is subject to molding, forming and shaping. Sometimes to make it more beautiful, sometimes to make it less painful, and sometimes to save our sorry hides.
I’m pretty sure I only lie when the purpose is to spare someone’s feelings. The answer to “Do you like my hair?” should never be “Yes, it reminds me of that psychotic character on The Muppet Show.” Never. So I manage to say something complimentary, and omit the raggy, sticky-outy, neon-orange colored references.
My life’s partner, however, the love of my life, the Center of the Universe, the one I married, and pledged all my love and allegiance to, has a slightly different view of the truth. He sees it as just one more arrow in the quiver, and uses it to his best advantage. (Oops—all over America women’s jaws are dropping and eyes are rolling as they utter one laconic “Duuuuh.”)
Don’t get me wrong—when it comes to business and industry, commercial and economic exchanges this guy is Mr. Clean. He would surely rather do himself great bodily injury than lie, mislead or misrepresent in any form or fashion. This I would literally stake my life on, as would anyone who knows him well.
But when it comes to domestic matters his moral requirements shift slightly. And by ‘slightly’ I mean like an avalanche is a slight drift of snow.
His weak spots fall into three categories:
1) Food. Did I finish the cookies? Um, I’m pretty sure there were plenty left when I last looked. Okay, this is only officially ‘true’ if you were blindfolded when you consumed the other half of the box.
2) Messes. Did I spill the salt? Knock over the detergent? Leave a teabag in the sink? Man, that looks like Rob’s work to me. Right, Rob who hasn’t lived here since 2003, and wouldn’t drink tea with a gun held to his head.
3) Lascivious intent. Whaaaat? No, I wasn’t trying – I didn’t mean—I had no intention at all – I was only-- Uh-huh. Save it for someone who believes you.
“So, Hub,” I advise, “Never try to tell the big lie—you can’t pull it off.”
“I wasn’t lying,” he insists. “Maybe I was a little metaphorically aggressive.” Oh no… Abe Lincoln is rolling over in Harry Truman's grave.