When Telling the Truth Could Snuff Out Your Sad Little Life

Sometimes me and my wife spar over whether honesty really is always the best policy. She thinks you ought to tell the truth all the time. I think telling the truth all the time is something you tell little kids to do, because they don't understand relativism, and they can't tie their shoes or say their "r's" either. And most of the time they smell like dried up saliva. I'm not sure what that has to do with honesty, but sometimes when I have a stream of thought I just ride it, you know? This tactic really helped me out once when I called to ask this older chick on a date when I was a junior in high school. I was pretty nervous, but riding my stream of thought brought me safely in to harbor. The phone conversation went something like this:

Older Chick: Hello?
Me: Hi, is this Older Chick?
Older Chick: Yes.
Me: Hi, this is Abu Halen.
Older Chick: ...
Me: From trigonometry. I sit by the window. Where it's kind of cold because I think the windows are single-paned. That's why I always wear my stupid corduroy jacket that makes it look like I'm trying to be Eddie Vedder. But I'm not. I don't even listen to Pearl Jam very much. But I will when they're not so trendy.
Older Chick: Oh, hi.
Me: Hi. Sorry to just call out of the blue. I got your phone number from Your Good Friend Who's Not As Cute As You. She said you wouldn't report me to the police if I called you. So I called you. Er, I'm calling you right now. Obviously. So... what's your cosine?
Older Chick: Yes I'll go out with you you're so witty and funny and I bet you're a good kisser. But I'll dump you in three months after the Winter Formal.
Me: Okay, sounds good. Let's do this thing.

Man, that worked out well. So, back to my thesis that sometimes it's better to lie than to tell the truth. Here's a good example.

But before my anecdote, that's Grace up there frolicking in the grass, looking for Orion or perhaps suffering from vertigo. Back to my story.

I got a couple of hundred dollar bills for Christmas from sources that shall remain unnamed but which may or may not be legitimate. I carefully folded the bills and put them in my wallet so I can spend them later on Ritz crackers and cheese whiz and ice melt and a cubic zirconium nose jewel. Then, yesterday, I went to Big K, which I still like to call K-Mart for nostalgic reasons. It was late. No one was in the parking lot. It was pretty dark. It was like 13 degrees Kelvin. I was walking to my car when a kind of scruffy homeless guy sidled up to me and asked if I had any money to spare so he could get some meth get a hotel room for the night.

Now, I'm an upright fellow. I'm big on putting things back where I found them, turning off lights when I leave the room, and helping out the destitute. I'm also big on telling the truth most of the time. So, brother man asks for some money and, before I can even think, I tell the truth. I say, "Sorry, man. All I've got is two one hundred dollar bills."

As soon as I spoke, I braced myself to be punched or shot or stabbed with a rusty switchblade. Then I felt kind of bad for stereotyping the homeless guy. Then I wondered, if he did kill me, and if no one found me till morning, whether the bitter cold would preserve my body so that they could bring me back to life like they did Mel Gibson in Forever Young. Then it occurred to me that maybe he had thought I was joking about the big bills, because I bet nobody had ever given him that excuse before for not giving him change. Then I wondered if maybe he thought I was a rich guy getting sort of snooty with him, all like "Hmph... I'd give you money, oh simple member of the proletariat, except we bourgeois only carry large denominations." Then I laughed a little to myself because I'm far from wealthy, and I wouldn't even have big bills in my wallet if it weren't for my mother-in-law. Then I had a flash of self-awareness and realized that me and the homeless guy were just kind of standing there in the dark parking lot, looking at each other, while I thought all these things. So I shrugged and walked to my car and he didn't follow me, which is good because my Jeep -- which I named Jeep -- can run over people as well as rocks and I swear would've run over him if he'd stood in front of my car and demanded I hand over the big bills. Or even if he had a stood in front of my car and danced an Irish jig, I still would've run him over. Because life doesn't present you with very many chances to run over a guy dancing an Irish jig, so you should seize those opportunities when they come along.

So, in sum, I think that was a bad time to tell the truth and a good time to lie. I'm so glad I lived to pass along the moral truth that you'll live longer if you lie on occasion.