I hate lies. Apparently there are various kinds. I had no idea such a variety existed. Either way, I hate them. Of course I always knew white lies existed. I am quite sure I’ve indulged in a few myself to get out of awkward situations.
The definition of a white lie:
A white lie would cause no discord if it were uncovered and offers some benefit to the liar, the hearer, or both. White lies are often used to avoid offense, such as telling someone that you think that their new outfit looks good when you actually think that it is a horrible excuse for an outfit. In this case the lie is told to avoid the harmful implications and realistic implications of the truth. As a concept it is largely defined by local custom and cannot be clearly separated from regular lies with any authority. As such, the term may have differing meanings in different cultures. Lies that are harmless but told for no reason are generally called white lies.
The key clause there being “cause no discord if it were uncovered”. Who doesn’t care about being lied to? For the most part you smile and let go, but occasionally the nature and the way it is said decides the impact imho.
Social commitments in the kind of society we live in demands us for our time and our company. It’s flattering to be invited. There have been times when we wished we could clone ourselves just so we could send each set different directions. Unfortunately, since that isn’t an option, we are left to hurry from one to the other, most definitely inconveniencing ourselves at least to a slight extent in the process. There have been times when we had to decline politely. These are options. Valid options that we are faced with when you value the other party enough to not appear rude. Just a simple act that we are bound to for living in a society.
I have huge problems refusing. Can’t say ‘No’ easily. I am learning these days and am yet to conquer the guilt for saying ‘No’. The husband’s a whole lot better of course, but both of us are suckers for holding our end of the bargain. If we’ve said ‘Yes’ without checking calendars and times, and there is a conflict, we’d do a juggling act and drive different directions if we have to, but we don’t bail the last minute, unless of course it’s inevitable as in the case of emergencies. You agree to one first, you stick with that commitment. It doesn’t seem right somehow to change your priorities halfway through. I belong to a circle of friends who hold the same sentiment. A point that I once thought was the only right thing to do until I begin to interact more with the new desis (and by new, I mean new acquaintances Ive made recently) to whom nothing matters except themselves. Self-centered doesn’t begin to describe their attitude to anything outside of them. What amuses me altogether is the absolute indifferent, callow attitude with which they continue even after they’ve been ratted out.
So that brings me to the question. We do have levels of friendship and we commit to different folks/institutions/events differently. Understandable. So does that give you the right to reserve the truth only for ones you place at a higher level and not care or spare a moment’s thought to frame a fine enough reason to acquaintances?
Okay, am livid. Was livid some moments ago and then I got irritated and now am just plain amused.
So here’s the story:
Recently made friends with a couple and their toddler son (kid1) a few months ago. Hit it off, talk and the kids played well. Met just a couple of times and the relationships’ at a little-more-than-an-acquaintance-but-not-yet-friend level. Fair enough. Invite them over for munchkin’s birthday party. They don’t show up. Come home after 3-4 hours to see a mail from the man saying “we had unexpected guests over so sorry, we won’t be able to make it.”
Taking it at face value, it was a perfectly good explanation, though I honestly have never seen or heard of unexpected guests dropping into one’s home in the US. Impossible? Maybe not, but a little bit of a stretch. Unexpected can only be really good friends. If they are good friends, it isn’t hard to say,”sorry guys, gotta go out, be back in an hour.” Still, perfectly valid reason, though sending an email after the time when you were expected to be at the party was strange. A call would’ve worked better.
Now munchkin’s quite the cookie when it comes to her friends. She put the guest list together, so she knew who were coming in and who were missing. She counted off her friends as they walked in, escorted them to get their bowling shoes on and played the perfect hostess to the tee. So she knew this kid was missing. There was one other kid who couldn’t make it and they called me that morning saying the kid’s been running temperature the last night. Valid? Yes, sure. Munchkin knew about it right away so she wasn’t expecting him either.
Munchkin comes home and continues to wonder just as I did why this kid1 didn’t come for her party, just as she did every few minutes at the party. The girl gets all expressive and I explain to her after checking the email and she seemed okay with it. Kids forget easily, so it’s all cool.
Today I speak with the lady to invite her for the Friday thing and just as I was done and hanging up, she broaches the birthday topic herself.
Says “Hey, am sorry about missing the party, it was really crazy that day. We had 2 other birthday parties to go to, and one was a neighbor and one at Chuck E Cheese.”
Me: Oh okay. That’s okay, but munchkin surely missed your son.
eh? Chuck E Cheese? Didn’t he say something about guests. Okay, whatever, maybe she’s confused.
She: Oh, that’s sweet. But yea, I asked him (husband) to email you, you know how it is with boys, once they see a place with moon bounce and all, they won’t get out. We did think about each coming in different direction, but then it got really hard.”
Me: I understand. We were expecting you as I got the mail only after we came home at 8. Maybe we can meet some other time. It’s just that this was the first big party we were throwing for her, so she was excited about it.
Moonbounce? Didn’t we have a major t-storm that evening? Oh well, Am not going to embarrass her with what her husband said, so please God, make me shut up.
She: Oh, yeah, actually what also happened was that he was all stuffed up in the morning and we took him to the doctor’s and then ….
Me: That’s fine. Social commitments are hard to keep up. I know. Got to run wrap up dinner. So see you on Friday if you can make it?
Okay girl, you are digging a bigger hole with every sentence you speak, so let’s end this now.
The lie as such does not hurt the liar or the person lied to. Unfortunately, when the truth is uncovered, it does hurt, maybe hurt’s a strong word, more like bothers or annoys the person lied to. The depth of damage is dependent on the kind of lie, relationship between the parties involved and the reason behind the need for a lie. You’d think people would pause for a few minutes before they blurt an excuse which isn’t a really good reason in the first place. You’d also think that as a team, a couple would consult each other or let the other know the excuses before they stand united in front of the lied to. Like an alibi. Just to save face if nothing else.
What happened wasn’t such a big deal, and we weren’t good friends to begin with, for her to choose us over the others. Surely wouldn’t it have been just easier to say “sorry, we are already going some place else, wish Munchkin a happy birthday for us, we shall meet again” . Simple. Has been done before, both ways. Works easy and clean, no mess.
It doesn’t matter anymore who was speaking the truth and why they couldn’t come. What just happened was that I’ve lost a few notches of faith and regard I had for them as a couple.
Darn them. Bah.