I am very fortunate to be married to Miss Sally. She is beautiful and mostly tolerant of my antics. We make a good team because one makes up where the other lacks. One sphere of relationships where I lack and Sally excels is in the area of knowing when not to speak the Truth.
For me, speaking the Truth seems self apparent. Why wouldn’t you tell someone what they need to hear? (Red Flag – need to hear in my opinion.) If someone’s tag is sticking out the back of their shirt, tell them. If someone is being an ass, tell them. If someone is about to make a really crappy life decision, tell them. If you’ve got a glob of mustard on your face, I’ll be the first to tell you. I think most people don’t say anything because they do not want to embarrass the guy with the mayo on his forehead. That is mayo, right?
(SIDE NOTE: Back a while ago, Greg and Doob traveled from Lancaster to Columbus to visit a newly built mall. Before they went a-malling, they had lunch at the Spaghetti Warehouse. Hours later, as they walked through the mall, Doob turned to Greg and said, “If I had spaghetti sauce on my face, would you tell me?” Greg said, “Yes. Yes I would.” Doob said, “You’ve got spaghetti sauce on your face.” I have found this phrase a great way to start the usually embarrassing “something on your face” conversation. Try it. Just not three hours later.)
Miss Sally and I, as a team, have a policy that goes against my Truth motto. Summed up it states, “Standing up for your friends requires you to forget the Truth.” In some situations, we tend not tell our friends how we really feel. It’s deceivingly simple: when a friend takes a stance, we side with them and support their decisions based on that stance. Under most circumstances, we stick with our friends whether or not we actually believe in what brilliance/nonsense they are spouting off. Luckily, we run with a group of friends who aren’t joining the KKK or debating the merits of polygamy. We usually aren’t put in a position to defend really dumb decisions.
By now you might be thinking, “Shouldn’t a true friend always be truthful?” Well, YES and NO. Let’s start with the NO.
NO (A true friend isn’t always truthful)
Our friend Lynne is very smart and spiritual. An odd combination because you would think that someone as smart as she is would not believe in fate or signs from a higher power. She’s had more than her fair share of shit dumped on her, but she seems to always come out shining. Maybe it is a good combination.
Lynne has a dog named Thea. Thea started to have problems with her back leg. Several hundreds of dollars later, Thea was diagnosed with bone cancer. Surgery and treatments, that were not guaranteed to work, would cost THOUSANDS of dollars. THOUSANDS!! I have a theory about pets. I do not pay for any procedure that costs more than the euthanization of the animal. That’s not entirely true, but if a cat needs $500 worth of surgery… there are plenty of healthy cats at the shelter that could use a good home.
Lynne, or should I say dirt poor Lynne, was bound and determined to get the treatments for Thea. There were a number of friends, including me, that were against this. Several friends were adamant about saving Lynne the heartache and from wasting THOUSANDS of dollars. Several friends shared the Truth with Lynne. Miss Sally said, “No matter how we feel on this, Lynne is determined to save Thea and we should support her.” So we did. It was very hard for me, but as determined as Lynne was, she needed some friends on her side. We gave her our support, secretly knowing that even if she could scrape together the money, Thea would probably relapse and die anyways.
Through a combination of luck and what others would call fate, Lynne’s mom called her with some interesting news. Due to several accounting errors, the IRS actually owed her mother THOUSANDS of dollars. The money was Lynne’s if she needed it. (Lynne’s mother was not aware of the surgery Thea needed. This was completely random. Oh wait, sorry… fate.) Turns out mom, Lynne could use the money. Lynne had just started working nights and weekends to make the needed cash and the money from her mom would pay for the initial surgery.
Thea had the surgery. Thea went through the treatments. Thea had a second surgery. Thea went through more treatments. That was five years ago. Thea, still alive and still very active, lives with Lynne in Copenhagen. (There’s another story in itself.)
Honesty isn’t always the best policy. See how smart we are... oh, right. The other side.
YES (A true friend should always be truthful)
Miss Sally has a very good friend named, for this story, Sarah. Over the years, Sarah had dated several guys and none seemed to be the right one. It was always tough on me because when she broke up, I’d have too as well. Sarah always got Miss Sally and I in the boyfriend divorce. The ex would get to keep the lawn chairs.
Then, Sarah met Mr. Right. As she dreamily described him, he was perfect. Same likes, similar backgrounds, great personality. Over the phone the guy seemed a perfect match… finally.
You can see where this is going.
From our initial contact, we really didn’t like the guy. We went on several outings, camping trips and even a reunion. The guy was an ass. We tried to like him. We tried to see past his scowl and snide remarks. It just wasn’t happening. We developed what you might call a hate for the guy. But, Sarah was in love. She saw something in this guy that we just couldn’t. When she started talking about marriage, we couldn’t have been happier! Really, we are very happy for the two of you. Really.
Other friends said, “That guy is a dick.” We said, “We trust Sarah’s judgment.”
Family said, “I don’t like him.” We said, “You need to know him like Sarah does.”
At home with the doors shut, we waited for Sarah to see the Light. Wedding plans were in full motion. We debated our now tarnished policy.
Luckily, she saw a bit of the Light. The guy was such an ass that it started leeching through Sarah’s love blinders. She started to dig her heels in on the wedding. He turned up the dick. She was feeling a whole lot of doubt about the relationship. As soon as we saw our opening, we shared the Truth with her. We hated the guy. He is bad news. Get out now.
Sarah was amazed. Why didn’t we tell her how we really felt? As good friends, she would have understood our feelings and trusted our judgment. Looking back, I think she is half right. I think we should have told her a lot earlier than we did. There is a big problem with telling someone in love that their perfect person is wrong for them. It tends to push the two closer together when you doubt their judgment. So close that anything you say or do from that point on just bounces off the love nest. It’s an easy way to lose a friend.
We learned our lesson. There is a point where Truth overrides friendship. Or perhaps that friendship is based on the ability to know when Truth needs to rear its ugly mug. A good friend should be supportive, up until a point. It’s finding that point that I leave up to Miss Sally.
I, of course, am always available to give you the Truth on an individual basis. If you are willing to listen to my version of it. And able to pay the going rate of one Captain and coke every half hour. Buy four hours, get the fifth for free.