Posted by: Wendy Meddour | June 17, 2011

On Truth and Chins in an Extra-Moral Sense

“All I need is a sheet of paper and something to write with, and then 
I can turn the world upside down.”  Friedrich Nietzsche

When asked if I would write a blog for Dragontongue later in the year, I readily agreed. That would give me plenty of time to come up with something clever. As a new and amateurish author, I could dazzle fellow writers with my astounding pontifications about the Nietzschean resistance to the ‘Truth’. But then the lovely Frances emailed: “We’ve had a cancellation,” she wrote. “Can you do next week?”

I panicked. “But when blogging under pressure, my silly side comes out!” I typed.

“It’s about time we had a giggle,” replied Frances.

So here goes: my silly musings ‘On Truth and Chins in an Extra-Moral Sense’. You have been warned:

As children, we’re told that it’s wrong to tell lies: ‘You must always tell the truth,’ they say. This is a cruel piece of grown-up advice. You may as well ask a child to ‘jump off a cliff’ or ‘put their hand in a very hot oven.” But I was of a trusting disposition and reasoned that – as grown-ups were large, drove cars and sipped hot drinks without incident –  it wasn’t necessary to question the wisdom of their advice. This was the unfortunate result:

I was six years old and had spent the morning playing with the girl next door. She was an only child and her family were much wealthier than ours: Felicity had bows in her hair, a house full of toys, and a cupboard packed tight with impractical shoes. Going to her house was like visiting another world and I thought our morning had gone well. We’d clopped around in red high-heels and dined on biscuits and squash. But I was wrong. For that afternoon, there was a loud knock on our front door: it was Felicity and her red-faced mother Patricia:

Your daughter told my daughter that she’s got a double chin!” shrieked Patricia.

I held Mum’s hand very tight. “Is this true?” asked Mum. I nodded. Yes. I had told Felicity about her double chin.

“Oh Wendy!” said my mother, “How could you? What an awful thing to say.” I was confused. I looked at the double chin to check that it was still there.

“I’m so sorry about this,” said Mum. “I promise it won’t happen again.”

Felicity grinned and stuck out her tongue.

“I’m afraid that’s not good enough,” said Patricia. “I want your daughter to apologise to my daughter now.”

“Go on,” said Mum, pushing me forwards.

I really didn’t want to. But I had no choice. I remembered what I’d been told – about always telling the truth. So I took a deep breath and began: “I … I … I really am sorry that Felicity has a double chin,” I said.

I don’t remember what happened next.  It goes sort of black. But the forgotten memory still gives me goosebumps and I never got to wear Felicity’s bright red shoes again.  And now, as a grown-up (who’s not very large but drives a car and only sometimes spills hot drinks), I feel a twinge of guilt when I order my children to ‘always tell the truth’. For as we all know, the truth can be a dangerous thing!

(Important note:  I have CATEGORICALLY LIED about the names in this blog and anyone who recognises either themselves or their chins is COMPLETELY and UTTERLY MISTAKEN!!!!)


Responses

  1. very funny! I know that wincing feeling so well…

    • Ooh! I have a comment. Thank you. (And it’s not from the girl next door *phew!*)

  2. Yes, indeedy. All honour to your childhood sense of integrity!! Often better not to tell the truth, though, the Categorical Imperative notwithstanding.

    Leslie

  3. I realise how lucky I was, Wendy – my mother taught me how to lie! (But I wasn’t supposed to lie to her. Fat chance, Mum, fat chance.)

  4. Great! It made me laugh and remember when my then 3 year old daughter was “helping” me during my part-time job at a friend’s dress shop when I was impoverished (not an unusual state!). Without me noticing her, Tanith was lying on her back with her head under the curtain of the changing room in which a Large Lady was trying on something. the first I knew was a piercing little voice saying “Did you know you’ve got a fat bottom and it’s poking through the big hole in your knickers?”

    Oddly, we didn’t see that customer again…

  5. Last week, one of my pupils kindly pointed out that I have hairs up my nostrils. The truth hurts.

  6. Kids, eh? Aren’t they just adorable?!

    Teacher: And how are you, Dr Meddour?
    Me: Oh, fine thank you.
    My little girl: No, she’s not. Mummy’s got a gurgly tummy .
    Me: *Blush*

    And Paul, I’m sure your nose is just fine. The pupil in question probably had some visual impairment. (See Sue – I’m getting the hang of this ‘not quite telling the truth’ thing!)

  7. very funny! I have a good lying story but am still feeling a bit too incensed by it to write it down.🙂

  8. Do tell us, Leila. We’re all friends here!

  9. That made me laugh out loud – lovely. And I think I may know who Felicity is!


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