Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Can I Be Completely Honest? Oh, Like Anyone Wants THAT

I come from a long line of excessively blunt people. Dinner with my family can feel sort of like going through a carwash in a top-down Mini Cooper convertible, as you are bludgeoned and buffeted by a thousand brushes and walls of soap.

Don't believe me? This is what my mother said when I asked why we had so many baby photos of Skye, and none of me: "Well, by the time the second baby comes, it's just not that exciting." She went on to point out that my sister and I looked astonishingly similar as infants, so she didn't want to waste the film.

My mother's take on childrearing might be slightly out of the ordinary.

Since every woman turns into her mother, my own honesty can be a little frightening. I must cross the line a dozen times per day, and never even notice. I've probably offended all of you without even trying. Hell, some days I offend myself.

I ought to know better. I know that if a friend says, "Can I be honest?" it means, "Can I be brutal?" I know "I'm just being honest!" means, "I'm being mean, but cloaking myself in forthrightness so I seem like a good person." And I know sometimes an indirect answer could keep me out of a whole mess of trouble.

But I also know direct questions deserve direct answers, that the truth will come out, and that nobody wants to be seen in pants that make their butt look like the hind end of the Hindenberg.

How did you decide your level of honesty? Or do you think it is predetermined, like hair and eye color?


Brando said...

I have a friend who isn't actually dishonest, because I think you have to know what you're saying isn't true for it to actually be a lie. But he has absolutely no care whatsoever as to whether what he's saying is true. It's almost as though if Truth were a woman, he wouldnt' violate her, but he'd leave her on the side of the road since he didn't want to have to make any extra stops.

Cyndy said...

In my house the rules were a little different. The brutally honest mother did not want to hear brutal honesty coming back at her apparently, so we learned to keep our mouths shut. So instead I saved a lot up for certain opportune moments. Way to raise passive-aggressive children Mom!

These days I just try to find a good balance between total honesty and keeping my mouth shut.

Shannon said...

Brando - Plus, the Truth never chips in for gas or tolls.

Cyndy - What's weird is that I don't recall being at all hurt or offended by my mom's comment. Actually, it struck me as quite reasonable and pretty damn funny.

HP said...

I tend to be a bit blunt, so I often find myself having to review a lot of what I say before it exits my mouth. That said, my general rule of thumb is that if you think it will hurt somebody's feelings, don't say it. On the other hand, people can be unpredictably overly-sensitive. Sometimes you just gotta bite your tongue and complain about it later to your mommy.

kelsi said...

I have a friend whose mother used the same line on him - after the first one, it seems like babies just aren't that exciting. Or something.
He also recently got an email from this same mother, apropos of nothing, saying "We're throwing this last box of your stuff. Do you want any of it?" And the stuff listed included things like, oh, childhood photographs and cards he'd made for his dad in grade school.

Shannon said...

HP - I think some people are sensitive in particular places, so, once you know them well you can avoid the obvious landmines. Luckily, you've never hit upon my sensitivity toward being called a purple people eater.

kelsi - I actually have the family boxes - even one labeled "Skye's Crap" that consists of her old school reports, etc. (naturally, most of her school creative writing lessons involved plotting my death.)

meghansdiscontent said...

I, also, tend to be too blunt and honest. My friends frequently introduce me as, "This is my friend Meghan. She *will* offend you." At points it's bothered me, but overall I take pride in it. People don't have to wonder what I truly think or feel.

Most people prefer the brutal truth in the long run, I think. Sugarcoating or out-and-out lies don't help anyone. Though I *do* try and tone down the bluntness with new acquaintances or strangers when possible.

Dmbosstone said...

My friend Rebecca is a very honest person and I love her for it. She's no nonsense and that inspires me to be the same.

Tina said...

I am exceedingly blunt. I try to moderate it more for people I care about not by being less truthful but by keeping the truth to myself if i think it might be hurtful and I see no reall compelling reason to share it.

for those I do not know and love though - why bother? Of course this may be why I do not make a ton of new friends.