The Lies We Tell (and The Blanket Acceptance of Them)

By Don Hall

Years ago my theater company hosted a forum on Live Lit (long before anyone came up with the pithy moniker) and we invited The Uptown Poetry Slam creator Marc Smith to sit down with Patrick Brennan and discuss pretty much anything he felt like discussing.

"We're all such a pack of liars," he said at one point. "We go to some show that we think stinks and afterward we tell them 'Good show!' as if these people don't already know their show stinks. We lie to each other all the time."

He was right. We do constantly lie to each other and then we accept these lies because we're supposed to—as if by lying and accepting the bullshit, we are providing grease to the friction of social grace. We lie and acquiesce to the lie because it makes us feel better.

When two of our friends have a horrible break up, we tell them we aren't taking sides.
When the boss asks us our opinion, he/she pretends he/she really cares and we say what we think he/she wants to hear.
No one—no one—really believes the customer is always right.

Your kid is probably pretty unexceptional. So are you. So are most of us.
No. Relationships are not hard work, you're just with the wrong person.
Yes. You could probably lose a few pounds and you'd be more physically attractive to people who find thinner people more attractive.

I'm not particularly great with dealing with customer dissatisfaction. Specifically, if a dissatisfied patron of one of my events approaches me with hostility and rancor, as a Jedi whose Light Saber is Rage, I generally meet them with more refined and powerful hostility and rancor. I used to tell my boss "I simply do not see the ability to take shit gracefully as a virtue." She would laugh and I felt pretty full of myself. My wife hears this and tells me, "It's pretty easy as a white man to say that. Think about the implications of telling a woman that taking shit gracefully is not a virtue." She's right and I'm happy (even though the truth bites some) that my wife refuses to politely lie to me.

She's dating you because you have money and connections and that's really it.
NPR famous is not the same as actually famous. It's more like being university famous or local politics famous.
Being black doesn't mean you have expertise on diversity.

I dated a woman who was just kind of mean and called it being honest. I bought her a necklace for Christmas once—a necklace that she knew I looked for for months and spent a hefty chunk of dough on—and her response was "I don't love it. I probably won't wear it." I wanted her to lie in that moment. I wanted her to be gracious and tell me how much she appreciated it and then stuff it in a drawer or regift it to a niece or something. She gave me the truth and I didn't want it. The result is that she received gift cards from then on out and she was upset that I stopped putting any thought into her gifts. We broke up—three times.

Most of your recycling is only to make you feel better.
Those vitamins don't do anything but cost you money.
Most apologies aren't sincere; most people don't care if they are sincere or not because getting someone to apologize is a power move rather than a forgiveness play.

I'd rather just be honest and hope that it doesn't damage others in the process. I'd rather just have people tell me the truth even when it pisses me off or hurts my delicate flower-like feelings. Life is really too short to look at it through a lens of polite dishonesty.