“How do I look?” my wife asks.
“Fine,” I tell her.
“You’re a liar!”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because,” she says from across the room, “you are wearing your reading glasses.”
She demands honesty but even honesty cannot always be completely honest. Sometimes honesty needs to be harsh and other times more gentle. It comes in a package of facts and opinions and what goes into the box depends on what is warranted by the situation. In this case, she wants to know how her new outfit looks.
“Turn around,” I say, stalling for time, as if time will save me.
“Well?” she wants to know.
After trading glasses, I tell her, “You look good.”
“Be honest,” she says.
It is my first indication that she is having doubts herself.
“I dunno,” I say, reflecting her own doubt back at her.
“You think it is…” She hesitates, searching for just the right word.
The word she chooses drifts on the air like gunsmoke and I best be careful, least I invite a bullet. “Too… what?” I ask.
This time the word flicks across the room like a fly cast over a trout stream. I rise to take the bait. “Too not you?”
She almost had me, but I dodged down an avenue where every road leads to escape. “I guess I am not up on fashion,” I add, sprinting toward freedom.
She tries to drag me back in. “But how does it look?”
“Expensive,” I say.
Now the ground has shifted completely in my favor. We are no longer talking about what looks good but how much it cost to look good.
“But how does it fit?” she asks. This is not a question. It is retaliation for having dodged all her previous questions – but by this time, it is too late. I am already off the hook and in a position to strike back.
“Ask your mirror,” I tell her as I put my reading glasses back on.
She goes back into the bedroom to consult the full-length mirror, but I know and she knows that this conversation is not over. She will have the last word and all I can do is wait for it.
In a few moments, she emerges but this time not to ask my opinion. “You know,” she says, “you could use a little time in front of that mirror.”
She is right. I could because my mirror has been talking to me lately and I don’t like what it is saying.
It tells me that I am in desperate need of a haircut.
It says I should shave more than twice a month.
It informs me that the summer has not been kind to my favorite road-safety yellow t-shirt, and last summer was not kind to the blaze orange t-shirt I wear when the yellow one is in the wash.
The mirror is also saying that my stomach is pushing its way through both t-shirts.
My mirror tells me the unvarnished truth and I trust it to be honest. But that doesn’t concern me because like the evening news, I twist this way and that until it shows me the truth I want see.