My Little Lie

Slice-Cherry-Pie-SJust as I was settling in to watch the evening news, my wife yelled from the kitchen.

“Hey you!“

When she addresses me like that, I know I am in just as much trouble as when my mother called me by my full name.

“Who ate the last of the pie?” she demanded to know.

In times like this, denial is the best route.

“Not me,” I told her.

“Then who?”

I pointed to the cats, who were looking conveniently guilty.

In response, she pointed to a dirty pie plate in the sink.“Uh-huh and who left that there?”

Again, I pointed to the cats.

“Don’t lie…”

“Must I be honest?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, ask again,” I told her.

“Who ate the pie?”

“It wasn’t me.”

“You are incorrigible.”

“Yet you still trust me.”

“I do, but I don’t know why.”

Which raises some interesting questions.

The first time I thought deeply about trust, I was tagging along with my father while he went shopping for a car. We had just stepped onto a notorious used car lot, when a guy in a plaid sports jacket clamped an arm around my father’s shoulder and pointed at a weary old station wagon.

“She’s a runner,” he proclaimed.

I was only in second grade but I could spot oil leaks, bald tires and rust with the best of them. I didn’t believe a word coming out of his mouth.

“Dad,” I said once the salesman was out of earshot, “do you believe that guy?”

“Sure,” he said.

“Why?”

“Because he doesn’t lie about the important stuff.”

That struck me.

Not long after, I overheard my parents talking about an election.

“You can’t trust that guy,” my mother said.

“Why?” my father asked.

“Because he tries too hard to be sincere,” she said.

The guy won and mom was right.

That struck me too.

How can people trust someone who is obviously lying and not trust someone who is obviously sincere?

The answer is in our head.

The human brain evolved not to understand reality, but to survive it.

Reality comes at us too hard, too fast and with too much detail to comprehend. So we reduce the incomprehensible into simple stories that seems truer than actual, authentic truth.

It is the essence of fiction. Something that comedian Steven Colbert coined as truthiness.

And on a subconscious level we know we do this, so we constantly evaluate the veracity of truthiness.  Do people who lie about the little things, also lie about the big things?  Can we trust people who tell the easy truths with the difficult ones?

It is a critical skill and absolutely vital for watching the evening news.

Soon after my wife had joined me on the couch, a sincere young man with an expensive haircut and an impressive blue suit breathlessly proclaimed, “BREAKING NEWS”.

“I don’t know if I trust him,” my wife remarked.

“Why?”

“He’s too slick.”

“Oh, I trust him,” I tell her.

“Really?”

“Yeah, he is just reading a teleprompter – so I trust that he is reading it correctly, but…”

“But what?”

“I certainly wouldn’t trust someone that slick with a piece of pie.”

She sighed. “A lot of people are like that.”

Author: Almost Iowa

www.almostiowa.com

45 thoughts on “My Little Lie”

  1. In important matters (so – no pie, lol!) I have the attitude “lets wait and see” no matter whether someone is sincere, trying very hard, how his or her appearance is – looks can be very deceiving! But I did like your post – it is very important to know who you can trust and who not, so unfortunately time is the revealer of the truth:)

  2. I saved this for the perfect moment – recliner in a good position, ready for a power nap, iced coffee at the ready. Now – read. But, then you make me think and laugh at the same time. 🙂 The pie is easy – eat, but wash the dish and put it away. Telling when someone is being truthful is more challenging especially if it has anything to do with politics or a ‘news’ show. First, I just assume everyone involved in politics is lying because someone is paying them, and it isn’t you and me. Second, those good looking folks aren’t giving us any ‘news,’ they really are just reading stories off that teleprompter. The days of Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley when they actually reported news is long gone. Good post.

  3. That was a fun read about pie, life, relationships and philosophy. Great mixture. Makes a perfect pie.
    You can have the last pie in my household; just keep your hands off the last of the ice cream.

  4. I am a fan of pie so I’d take it mighty personal if someone ate the last piece of pie. I am after all the Queen Bean who rules the realm, deciding who is pie-worthy and who is not.

    1. At the end of the film Anne Hall, Woody Allen tells the following joke:

      “It reminds me of another old joke: you know, a guy walks into a psychiatrist’s office and says, ‘Hey doc, my brother’s crazy! He thinks he’s a chicken.’ Then the doctor says, ‘Why don’t you turn him in?’ Then the guy says, ‘I would, but I need the eggs.’ I guess that’s pretty much how I feel about relationships. They’re totally irrational, crazy and absurd, but we keep on going through it because we need the eggs.”

      Arguing that any aspect of politics is crazy is like arguing that you can’t get eggs from a man who thinks he is a chicken at an omelet breakfast.

  5. Honestly? I despise “truthiness” — deeply, and profoundly. It’s a weasel word. We started on the downward slide when “transparency” popped up as a substitute for “true.” If you push the concept of transparency far enough, you get back to the old-fashioned concept of the bald-faced lie. It still lurks on car lots.

    1. Here is how Wikipedia begin its discussion of “truthiness”.

      Truthiness is the belief or assertion that a particular statement is true based on the intuition or perceptions of some individual or individuals, without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.

      In a word, that describes faith. In another word, it describes worldview.

      In the next sentence, Wikipedia takes truthiness a step further.

      Truthiness can range from ignorant assertions of falsehoods to deliberate duplicity or propaganda intended to sway opinions.

      I would describe that as a corruption of faith – but one that is the essence of politics. To get elected, one must avoid the nuances of truth because truth contains too many unpleasantness, therefore an honest politician, like a good used car salesman, spins fiction – but not about the important stuff.

      1. I think it’s a pretty good term, as far as made-up-words go. I think it will eventually enter the normal lexicon, because there’s just not really a better word for the phenomenon. English isn’t like German where you can smash old words together and get new words.

  6. How can there be just one piece of pie left when there are only two in the house? Let’s see. 1. Someone ate two pieces one time. 2. Someone passed on a piece one time. 3. Someone else came in and had a piece of pie one time. I would blame whoever that was who came in and had a piece of pie.

    1. That wouldn’t work. Stan is scared of her and she knows it. There are very few things that Stan would not do, but eating a piece of pie that she had a claim on would not be one of them.

    1. I am waiting for her revenge. The last time this happened I found an empty container of my favorite ice cream left out on the kitchen counter. Pay back was literally, never so sweet.

  7. I hope whoever got to that last piece of pie enjoyed it!

    “Reality comes at us too hard, too fast and with too much detail to comprehend. So we reduce the incomprehensible into simple stories that seems truer than actual, authentic truth.”

    Not only truer, but safer and easier to manage. This is how we manage anxiety until that becomes overwhelming at which point we just freeze.

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