Recently, I spent some time with an elderly relative. Let’s call her “Aunt C”. Aunt C is a lovely woman who bravely married into my family quite some time ago. Since she is widowed and lonely, I arrived armed with questions intended to keep her talking. Basic things, like “Where did you grow up?”, “How did you meet Uncle E?”, “How many siblings do you have?”, etc. Although I already knew a lot of the answers, I asked the questions anyway, since the point of my asking questions wasn’t necessarily to gather previously unknown information. Well, I was in for a little surprise. After telling me how she met her second husband (“Uncle E”), Aunt C then told me how she met her first husband, “K”. After she and K married, he went away to war (World War II) for a few years. Upon his return, they moved to his home state. Eventually, Aunt C became pregnant. One day, K didn’t come home. K’s mother called and said that he had died in a car accident. Pregnant and alone, Aunt C returned to her home state where she met and married Uncle E.
Researcher that I am, I knew there had been no car accident. K actually died about ten years ago. As his full name is unique, the information was easy to find. For once, I did not blurt out the truth. Instead, I said, “What a difficult time it must have been for you.”
Although I am big on being honest and accurate, sometimes it’s just not a good idea. What purpose would have been served by telling Aunt C (and Aunt C & K’s child) that K was not killed in a car accident all those years ago? I couldn’t think of any purpose at all.
There are other circumstances under which telling the truth is inadvisable. A classic example is, “Does my butt look big in this?” Ladies, if you ask men this question, you are just looking for an excuse to pick a fight or cry (or both). If you have to ask that question, you already know what the truth is. Men, if you want to take your life into your own hands or are looking for an excuse to fight, answer honestly. However, if you don’t, you need to redirect things by saying something like, “I think your other jeans are more flattering” or “Honey, your ass looks fine in everything you wear”. You get the idea. Sometimes honesty is not the best policy.