...is said to be honesty, isn't it. But of course there are occasions when lies are necessary (I don't think there's such a thing as a "white lie". We say we are telling a white lie in order to get ourselves off some moral hook). Thus, it's okay for me to say "I love purple, and a purple hat is just the ticket!" when I hate purple and never wear hats, but someone has gone to the trouble and expense of buying me one.
This week, however, I came across a refreshing piece of honesty, which made me laugh and admire in equal measure.
Picture the scene. Six friends, sitting round chatting. Anna says she has a favour to ask.
"Yes?" We are all willing to do favours, because we are nice people and she is a friend.
She explains that she is a handbell ringer, but one of their number is ill, so they'll be one short for their practice tomorrow. Can anyone fill in? My views on handbell ringing are...well, never mind (but - commercial break - they can be found in Chapter 12 of my novel Dead Ernest). One after the other, we give our excuses/ reasons (I had a hospital appointment) for not going. Until we come to Jenny.
Jenny smiles and says that unfortunately she won't be able to come, because she doesn't want to. It's polite, succinct, not open to any kind of misinterpretation, and no offence is meant or taken.
Thursday, 27 February 2014
The best policy...
Posted by Frances Garrood at 15:52
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Oh, if only we could be a Jenny. So often we say to ourselves that we are of an age where we do not have to do anything we do not wish, and then find ourselves making pitiful excuses. Where is one's moral courage??
Last night our Mad Boy, on the telephone to his parents in Uruguay, misled them completely with a lie which we are not convinced could be counted as a 'social' one. Why?
I'm intrigued by the Mad Boy. To whom does he belong? As for that kind of honesty, I feel it's given to few to do it quite so graciously!Delete
At twenty-six, studying piano at the Music Academy here in Budapest, he probably belongs to no-one. That said, he lives with us in part of the apartment he terms the Rafael Rooms and we love him dearly. If you are interested, then he features on our current post.Delete
The risk is, of course, that the lie is so convincing that they think they're on to a winner and always give you purple hats in future.ReplyDelete
I think the point of a white lie is to spare the feelings of the other person, not just to wriggle off the hook, so those of you who didn't really have another engagement were - well, just lying. But there was every excuse for it.
I get the point of a white lie, Z, but what impressed me was that Jenny managed to tell the truth and not give offence. It was so neatly done.Delete
Jenny did the right thing, and I would be surprised if Anna stopped being friends with her because of her honest reply.ReplyDelete
Like nearly everyone else, I try to avoid people, especially those I care about a lot. Therefore, my mother-in-law will never know I hate the handbag she included in my Christmas parcel, and (what is this about people misinterpreting my taste in handbags?) it took me several weeks into 2014 until I finally confessed to my Mum that I did not like the set of handbag & purse she had given me for Christmas 2013. I took the set back to her, explained that it wasn't quite my style and hope she can take it back to the shop (or use it herself). My Mum said she was a bit disappointed that I did not like her present, but still preferred me being honest. We still love each other very much - I was not disowned after that :-)
I had a problem with a recent birthday present: a large, furry electric rug. My sister, who has little money, had splashed out on it (not sure why). Should I tell her? In the end I did, but it was diffcult, and of course she was disappointed. But she did understand. I hope...Delete
That's an excellent reason to give for not doing something.ReplyDelete
btw, I have a very nice purple hat someone bought for me. It goes perfectly with my purple coat.
Not sure I believe you about the purple hat and coat, Patsy. Don't they clash with your (lovely) auburn hair?Delete
I have neither a purple hat nor coat (and hopefully no one will ever think to but me one). As a former campanologist with the Big Ones in Bell Towers I would have the perfect and truthful excuse for not doing handbell ringing for anyone. The reason: I was completely useless at it. Somehow Big Bells is so much easier than handbells. Well apart from the ease with which you can lose your life by strangulation when the rope of a Big Bell comes off its wheel and drops round your neck. If it had not been for the exceptionally quick action of someone behind me when it happened I'd not be commenting on this post.ReplyDelete
GB, I had a go at the Big Bells for a while, and found it fiendishly diffcult. Also, not letting go in time was quite exceptoinally painful. I really admire campanologists.Delete
Oh yes, the rope burns. I'd forgotten about them.Delete
When my children were small, I actually made them practice saying the word 'no'. It comes in handy in all sorts of situations.ReplyDelete
That's the first time I've ever heard of a child having to be taught 'no'.Delete
I'm with GB, CM. I think 'no' was the first word my children learnt (and used to great effect). .Delete
Jenny is amazing. I have never been assertive enough to say no. It's time I started practising. xReplyDelete
My daughter never says no. I'm trying to teach her to say 'let me get back to you' when asked a favour she'd prfer not to do. It gives her time to think (and then say no!).Delete
Learning to say 'no' is an art, and I think I've got quite good at it.ReplyDelete
I'm still learning, Maggie.Delete