the best policy

by Miss What's-Your-Name-Again?

Oh my kiddos.

I did need you to tell the truth today. I needed to know the truth about who had thrown the first punch; I did need to know the truth in order to determine who should offer a miserably conciliatory handshake first. I needed to know so very much that, after I forced you to handshake-bro hug it out, I asked you if you understood why it mattered to tell the truth. You told me because honesty is the best policy, of course. I looked you straight in your sweet, precocious eyes, grimaced, and lied when I told you, “yup.”

Don’t get me wrong. Honesty is good. Honesty is fine. Honesty is the kid who somehow got invited to everyone’s birthday parties until we realized he was kind of a shit stirrer and no one could figure out who was actually friends with him. The problem with honesty is that it gets presented as a sort of catch-all, a when in doubt…, when it is, in reality, an extremely niche solution that is ONLY appropriate in instances for which it is specifically requested, and people so very rarely ask for what they really want.

There was a time in my life where I was really into being honest; it was a phase I went through in college, akin to my passing obsession with faux fur, Adam Levine, and the period of time during which I wore three inch stilettos everywhere, including while riding my bicycle, which may have been related to the considerable number of times I crashed my bicycle. I remember turning to a crush-of-the-moment once and saying (and this is both real and specific, I remember it as though it were yesterday… for reasons that will become obvious,) “I don’t know if it’s what’s going on with your hair, or what, but I am like super into you these days.” He looked at me with what could only be described as “…” I eventually said, “Okay bye,” and teetered off in my heels. We never spoke of it again.

Here are some things I’ve learned about honesty.

  1. People don’t really expect honesty; hitting people with some unexpected truth is literally that, you hit them with it; you punch them in the face. And they don’t react like they do in the movies, for the most part, unless they cry, and if they are crying it’s because that’s sometimes how people react when they get punched in the face.
  1. You will almost always instantly regret it. You will continue to regret it until enough time has passed that it becomes a hilarious story to tell your friends, about what a dumbass you are. Like the time over spring break when I told a treasured friend that I was in love with him and he reacted in the sort of bewildered way you do when you get punched in the face by a treasured friend, and I really went balls to the wall Nicholas Sparks style and told him I would move to another country for him and boy was that stupid and ha ha ha and hardy har har and excuse me while I go throw myself out the window.
  1. You will not be thanked for it. People will say that they respect you but, in truth, they fear you, and contrary to what you may have come to believe in your school life so far, fear and respect are sort of the same but also not really. People get afraid to be subjected to your truth bombs, wincing as they praise your candor and silently try and figure out how they can get as far away from you as possible before that happens again.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we should all run around telling big fat lies to each other all the live long day. But please take it from someone who knows; honesty should come with a warning label. Apply sparingly. Dime-sized amount. If symptoms persist, discontinue use, for fuck’s sake. You don’t need to be a truth-wielding knight of the round table every single second of your life. Tell someone it will be fine, even if you’re not sure it will. Tell them he will be back, even if he won’t. Tell Miss Park you like her hair, instead of letting her know she looks like she didn’t brush it (I didn’t, that’s truth.) Punch someone with your fists for a change. Wait, don’t do that. That was the whole point of… Oh never mind.