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Monday, May 20, 2013


We all get vulnerable. Through illness, misfortune, loneliness, or simple fatigue, there are times when we feel the need for reassurance.

And then we go fishing.

Fishing for compliments is usually seen as a social no-no, but it's something that almost everyone does regularly. Anything from "how do you like my new car" to "how do you like my book" is most decidedly not said in search of an honest answer.

It's saying, "I need to be reassured that I'm okay".

The only thing wrong with it is taking a haughty attitude that it's really demeaning, and instead of offering the needed support, delivering an honest answer in the negative. Or sometimes a dishonest answer in the negative, simply to express disapproval of the whole exercise.

In other words, a verbal sucker-punch.

If the hairstyle's hideous or the book's a bore, do you lie?

Okay, YES. If you're being asked for an honest opinion, you generally have enough history in the relationship to know it, and to deliver it without too much hurt. If you aren't sure, and you are being honest out of preserving your own intellectual integrity, then the biggest part of your response is an exercise of your own pride.

Can lying to spare feelings get you into trouble? Sure. You may have the glacial sequel to the molasses-like unpublished first novel foisted on you, or you might be treated to an extended version of Junior's violin solo (that which caused the bikers next door to decamp for a monastery).

But trouble's part of life, dealing with onerous social obligation is a part of civilization, so suck it up. At some time not long past, your boring hours were another's burden...and you probably didn't even know.

Pay that forward.

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