Sweet Little Lies

A secret writer from a pragmatic blue-collar neighborhood, Marie White Small brings her skills as a florist, waitress, antiquarian bookseller, bookbinder, cook, and pie-baker to the page.

shutterstock_286597541The ability to lie in contemporary society is a sign of maturity, acceptance, and the skilled management of situations where the raw truth would hurt those fabulists who concoct their way out of a situation, or conversely, engage in puffery. It might be honest to tell a prospective employer that your tardiness is due to the fact that you overslept, but is it wise? “Stuck in traffic,” is the self-preserving lie. And it might be just as wise to suggest to this same would-be employer that you and you alone, solved a months-long and vexing problem at your last firm.

There are all kinds of lies: lies of ambiguity that are often comical; the bluff—a lie of the tactician; white lies that are a kindness, as in,“Yes Grandma, I loved the reindeer sweater you got me.” There are brazen lies, lies of conceit, equivocation, fraud, and exaggeration. There are institutional and noble lies, and lies because we don’t owe the truth to everyone; some aspects of our lives are private, although queries that would never have been shutterstock_312206774considered in the past are often made. So we couch the truth. We tell a tale as cover, we bluff or distort—there are distinctions to the art of deceit. In fact there are at least forty synonyms in the English lexicon for untruths, all with nuanced meanings. Obviously deceptions, humbugs, and fabrications are important to English speakers.

The truth is, we all lie.

Anatole France claimed, “Without lies, humanity would perish of despair and boredom.” He may have been right . . . . Studies show that the art of the whopper is the daily practice of teenagers and septuagenarians alike—a social lie or two, a snippet of exaggeration . . . and the more we lie, the less meaning real truth has.