At least so quoth the ever enigmatic, and exceptionally surly Dr. Gregory House who both angered and titillated thirty million North American television viewers at the height of the program’s popularity.
And he was right. Most people, as much as they would like to admit otherwise, distort the truth in one way or another (sometimes even on a daily basis.)
Why, it’s bloody hard not to. Take the classic example:
A: “How are you?”
B: “Good! How are you?”
This exchange is the absolute worst. Not only is it shallow and formulaic, but it actually makes me think that we are preconditioned to not tell the truth.
I mean, when talking about fleeting exchanges (picture you and the other person as two ships in the night), I can pretty much guarantee that neither of you actually wants to know how the other is doing when you ask. It is but a mere formality – an extension of the actual greeting.
In fact, hihowareyoudoing is one pretty much one word, the opener, which is expected under normal greeting circumstances, while finegreatgoodokay is the expected answer, the closer.
End of story.
Both parties may walk away satisfied.
I can totally understand why in some cultures you don’t even bother asking this question unless you are prepared to really find out how that person is – because, really, otherwise what’s the point?
Now, I am willing to concede that there is probably at least one of you out there, shaking your head, thinking to yourself, “I always tell the truth no matter how I’m feeling!”
So dear reader, if you manage to actually (sincerely) articulate how you are doing every time someone asks you, I bow down to you and your amazing resolve.
I would also like to meet you.
And your friends.
As for me?
I’ve been known to tell a few porky pies. And not just about how I was feeling.
I’ve told my husband that I have eaten breakfast when I haven’t, just because he likes to eat right away in the morning and I don’t, and I once told the mother of one of the kids I tutored that I got migraines instead of just outright quitting the job.
(That was one strange kid, believe you me.)
I would watch as these little white lies fluttered out of my mouth, like ivory-winged moths escaping the dark, searching for a light. They would burn up, the farther up they fly, and I wondered, as I watched them disappear, what purpose did they serve?
To answer this question, I once spent a
week day trying not to lie.
Which I found to be hard. Very hard.
I was unsuccessful on many fronts. But mostly I was incapable of getting over the hihowareyou hurdle. No matter how hard I tried, goodgood seemed to get away from me without my noticing.
Every time I would have to take back my words and try again. But even then I couldn’t successfully complete the task.
What can I say? I’ve been programmed.
And I’m okay with that.
Because otherwise I like to believe that I lead a fairly transparent, truthful life.
And let me tell you this: when I ask you how all you beauty cats are doing, I mean so with the most sincerity.
And that, I promise, is no lie.
10 thoughts on “You can’t handle the truth!”
Loving your post – I tip toe around the truth every day:) Happy Hump Day!
I like that image very, very much! x
azzz awl susspect duzznt syrupprize yew, i am KNOWN (in a few small circles) to always reply ROTTEN. horrible. not good.
SUMBUDDY has to be the calibration standard: THAT GUY who all the wundurphul people could be comparulated to!
Amazing! The world needs more people like that. Just, at the very least, to keep people on their guard!
Great thoughts and such a good post! Funny thing? I was actually talking to someone about this the other day. I loathe small talk but it’s part of the verbal interchange for society and darn hard to get away from. The “how are you” thing always kills me, especially when I’m having an off day. Because it’s just not the time or place to be honest.
Funny thing is that as a study more foreign languages I see it in so many of them. Not the “how are you” exactly, but these turns of phrase that are simply meant to be polite conversation. In Arabic a lot of the phrases involve expressing thankfulness to Allah even though that’s not the topic of the discussion. It becomes a way of saying “oh, great, that’s awesome”. But of course it’s harder to spot those disingenuous phrases in our own language.
Got to say, I love that you put out these posts that get me thinking. :) Wishing you a lovely a warm Wednesday, dearest! Are you pumped for Friday or what?!?!
YES! The off day is the worst. I feel like it should be socially acceptable to not have to take part in the greeting charade when you are feeling poorly.
That’s so funny about what you’re saying other languages! And so very, very true – it is hard to pick up on those nuances when you are not a native speaker. I know in mandarin, you can say (phonetically spelled here, eep!) Nee-how-mah? Which is Hi how are you? And it’s pretty much just saying Hi. I always thought I was being super polite, and they were just like, meh! We all say it!
And YES! SO PUMPED. Really excited, I feel like I could vibrate right out of this room!
Hey girl, happy belated birthday! My days have been a strange time warp blur making me believe it is still sometime in December 2012. Alas, a new year for us both has begun. May you be blessed in your new age; laugh, love, and be loved. Use the wisdom you’ve learn and remember your future is dazzling before your eyes!
Why thank you miss! Your wishes are so very much appreciated. I am very much looking forward to the year ahead, and all the adventures this entails! :)
And yes, isn’t it nuts how quickly the days seem to be sliding by? I cannot believe it myself.
I was cracking up at the migraine-tutoring story!!! I have to tell lies like that all of the time! I hate to hurt anyone’s feelings!
I know right? It’s the total worst. But then I always feel like such a broom afterwards, being all “Did I really just say that!?” Ah well!