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Reflections February 2016

The Old Gal

Liar Liar

By Anne Ashley

Why do I relinquish the right to exercise my solicited opinion? Because in my dotage I have come to understand that people who ask for an opinion aren’t really asking you to voice your thoughts. They’re asking to be liked, approved of, accepted or just tolerated with as little fuss as possible – and I do just that.

One of the many, many changes I've noticed – along with graying (and thinning) hair, a thicker waistline and height reduction, is that, as I age and turn slowly into my mother … I lie more now than I ever did as a spry young thing!

In the full bloom of youth, I was somewhat caustic with my opinions and feelings. If asked, I offered the truth about whether or not I liked a particularly bizarre hairdo or an unflattering outfit. I always assumed that if the petitioner was satisfied with the image in the mirror, they wouldn’t have sought further approval. Likewise, in my formative years, I was brutally honest if someone dared to ask if I minded whatever they were about to do. If I minded … I minded vociferously.

But now, from the check-out girl at a local grocery store who apologizes for making me wait longer as she calls management for assistance (who, by the way, was also a mere pimple-faced child) to the gentleman that lives next door to me who asked AFTER he shoveled the lumps of snow from his driveway onto my lawn if I minded, I am demure and tolerant. I lie and concede.

I am charitable with my displeasures these days and allow checkout girls to call for help when I could have easily solved the dilemma for her by advising that she remove her grotesquely long and obviously fake fingernails that cause her to activate half the keyboard at a time instead of hitting only the single digits needed to ring up my purchases (when the scanner kept refusing to cooperate) and save both of us a lengthy wait for Doogie Howser!

As a fledgling I would have agreed to carry the load of snowfall for my neighbor but only if he allowed me to return the favor in the summer and dump my grass clippings on his yard! But nowadays, I lie that I don’t mind letting someone cut in line ahead of me because they feel their life is far too important to hang around waiting their turn with the rest of us peasants. I lie that our hostess’s dinner was delicious when it really, really wasn’t. I lie that someone else’s calamities were not self-inflicted … again.

I allude to happier topics when I'm asked for advice on marital struggles when the newlyweds haven’t even shaken the wedding confetti out of their hair. In this instance I wanted to advise that perhaps the bride should wait longer than a month before considering her groom to be intolerable. It took me a year to realize that I was married to a man that has the annoying habit of going selectively deaf, mid-sentence! I tell a bald-faced falsehood when I’m asked to comment on how adorable a friend’s grandchild is when clearly her daughter has given birth to a future despot.

Why, I hear you ask. Why do I relinquish the right to exercise my solicited opinion? Because in my dotage I have come to understand that people who ask for an opinion aren’t really asking you to voice your thoughts. They’re asking to be liked, approved of, accepted or just tolerated with as little fuss as possible – and I do just that.

Because, for all my honestly brutality in my youth, I never once rehabilitated someone who chose to wear an outfit that indeed made her bottom look big. She just stopped inviting me to accompany her shopping (and still wore the offending pants). I never reformed anyone for articulating my displeasures or disapproval when I actually did mind their actions. They went ahead and did it anyway without the least concern for my feelings.

Instead, today when invited to comment, I acquiesce and people like me again. Well, except for an ex-mother-in-law who still hasn’t forgiven me for tactlessly disagreeing with her choice of hairpiece … in public. To be fair though, she started it. By the time I realized that what she really meant was, I like it – no more conversation needed, it was too late!

Anyway, for the most part, my lies get me invited to dinner parties once more. Lies mean I’m able to collect my mail at the end of my drive without dreading another confrontation with the snow-sharing neighbor. A little lie and I can look squarely in the eyes of a heavy woman in skin-tight jeans and smile approvingly. Contentment reigns in Tall Tale Land.

Although, fear not, all is not lost. I’m still blunt to the point of rudeness when it comes to door-to-door salespeople. So much so that my other half threatens to erect a sign in our yard to warn them, you know, just to give the poor unfortunates a sporting chance if I don't stop making them cry!

 

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