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The ‘Truth’ Will Set You Free

If I’ve learned one thing during seven-plus years of marriage, it’s that honesty is very important. You should always tell the truth to your husband or wife, no matter the situation or circumstances.

Still… there’s nothing that says you can’t take a moment first to decide exactly what the truth is. Everything’s relative, after all.

This is where my freshman philosophy class comes in so handy.

(Thank you, otherwise-worthless liberal arts education!)

You see, there have been some very smart people in the world who have believed — and have taken the time and effort to confirm, logically — that there is an awful lot of uncertainty in the world. And it’s this uncertainty that allows us spouses (oh, who am I kidding — men; husbands and boyfriends and fiancees) to both tell the ‘truth’ and manage to avoid being beaten about the head and shoulders with a purse or high-heeled shoe.

(Or worse, those big-assed sandally clog things — what the hell are those called? ‘Lady Birkenstocks’? ‘Birkenchicks’? Whatever. Anyway, those damned things are heavy!)

Observe how this truth-telling thing works, gentlemen. It may save you a lot of grief. Remember, for a statement to be ‘true’, all we have to do is convince ourselves that it’s true — and let’s face it: we’re not the sharpest cheddars on the cheese tree, if you know what I mean.

(And if you do, please tell me — I don’t know where the hell that came from. Yeeks.)

Anyway, here’s how I use the ‘truth’ to get by in my marraige. Hopefully, it’ll give you some ideas on how to improve your lives, too. Let’s have a look, shall we?

Example 1: Did ‘You’ Do It?

Let’s say you get home one evening, before your lady friend, and you find a six-pack of beer chilling in the fridge. And let’s further say that you’ve had a hard day, and you’re a bit parched, so you decide to have one. And then another. And another, until before you know it — suds gone. The beer has disappeared. Fine.

Now, your honey gets home, and — because she’s cool like that — she decides she’s in the mood for a brewski, too. So she opens the fridge, and finds… nothing. But she knows there was just beer in there this morning. So, her next move will be to come find you, whereever you’re sitting (or, by this point, passed out), and she’ll say, with hands on hips:

Hey, who drank all that beer?

‘Who drank that beer’? Who, indeed? Well, don’t answer right away, fellas — you really need to study this question in depth before you offer a response.

First, the question’s not really specific about which beer ‘that‘ beer is. Let’s be fair — she’s probably got a lot of things going on. She could be talking about any beer. You can’t be certain that you drank that beer, right? Even if she asks about ‘that beer in the fridge‘ — what’s the fridge, anyway? I know a lot of fridges, frankly, and ‘that‘ beer could be in any of ’em. Who’s to say, really?

Furthermore, you have to ask yourself — quickly, before she gets suspicious about what’s going on that little mind of yours — did you really drink the beer? Assuming you concede the point that the beer in question is ‘that‘ beer — and you don’t concede that, men; this is purely hypothetical at this point — but assuming that’s the right beer, how can you really know you drank it?

Let’s borrow a bit of information from philosophy (and, more recently, Hollywood) to help us out here. There’s an old thought experiment that asks this question: can we really, truly be certain that we’re living the life we think we’re living? Meaning, is it really ‘me’ that looks like ‘me’, and goes to ‘my’ job, and drives ‘my’ car, and drank ‘that’ beer? Isn’t it at least possible that we’re all just disembodied brains in vats somewhere, being electrically stimulated in a billion different ways a second to believe that ‘we’ are who ‘we’ think ‘we’ are? Is there any way you could possibly disprove that, without a shadow of a doubt?

Put another, perhaps more familiar, way — how can we know we’re not in the ‘Matrix’, or something like it? All of us living ‘our’ lives, when what we’re actually doing is lying in a vat somewhere, ‘dreaming’ our experiences into existence? Really, can you guarantee that’s not happening? ‘Cause I sure can’t.

Which makes it not only sly, but absolutely true for me to reply to the question above by saying:

Well, gosh, hon… I don’t know who drank that beer you’re talking about. Really, it’s a complete mystery.

I think you can see how powerful this technique can be, folks. To thine own self be true… but only once thine own self is convinced of whatever ridiculous thing that you want your self to believe. Pretty cool, huh? Let’s do another one.

Example 2: Is It ‘Really’ Going to Happen?

This is an illustration of what service providers call ‘managing expectations’. Let’s say that you’ve promised to do some particularly heinous, distasteful thing. Maybe you’ve agreed to clean the gutters on your house, or chaffeur your sweetie on a shopping binge, or do that weird, complicated thing she likes in bed, with the tongue and the toes, and that little gadget that looks sort of like a laser pointer with antlers. You know, the one you almost sprained your elbow doing last time. Yeah, that one.

So, of course, when you first tell your one and only that you’re on board for whatever nightmarish torture you’ve chosen, she’s excited. Giddy, even. But she’s a little wary, too — you don’t usually go in for shit like this. You didn’t put up nearly enough of a fight, and she’s not sure you’re going to follow through. You, of course, want the hell out of whatever it is, with a blazing hot passion. But you can’t go back on your word. So you’re stuck, right?

Well… not necessarily. This is where our old friend ‘uncertainty‘ rides in on the white horse to rescue us again. Let’s say it’s been a couple of days since you signed your soul away to do this… this thing, whatever hellish task it is. Now your lady’s checking up on you, to see whether you’ve gotten cold feet, and are going to try to wriggle your way out of it. (Which, of course, you are.) So she asks, innocently enough:

So, sweetie… you’re still going to do that <insert ghoulish nastiness here> this weekend… right?

Now, you can’t pretend you didn’t agree to do it, whatever it is. She heard you, and it was very clear, and she’s probably got it on frigging tape, depending on how shriekingly awful a thing it’s gonna be. So you’ve got no way out there.

But… she’s not asking whether you agreed to do it. She wants to know whether you can say — with full certainty — that you’re going to do it this weekend. Well… babe, that’s a whole other story, now, isn’t it?

Seriously, consider how much you know about what the weekend’s going to hold. I daresay it’s not much at all. Next to nothing, really. You don’t know what the weather’s going to be, certainly — no one does, including those ‘Doppler Douchebags’ who try to tell you otherwise. So if the thing in question is weather-affected, all bets are way off. That’s an easy one.

But if you really take a close look at it, you don’t know much else about the weekend, either. Let’s say it’s the trip to the mall you’ve signed up for. Certainly, a little rain’s not going to slow you down.

(Though let’s be fair — I bet bowling ball-sized hailstones, or a plague of frogs, would do the trick. But let’s forget the Biblical shit for now. You can use that in a pinch, but we’ve got better ways out of this mess.)

Back to your level of confidence about what the weekend is going to bring. Can you know that you’re going to do the crappy thing you said you’d do? Well, of coursenot. Who’s to say when your legs will spontaneously fall off, or a swarm of rabid bees will descend on your town, or the sun will be swallowed up by a rogue black hole? There’s no way you could predict when any of those things would — or more importantly, wouldn’t — happen. So you’re perfectly in the clear when you tell your skeptical sweetie:

You know, I honestly have no idea whether I’ll get around to doing that or not.

Again, not a lie. And, if you’re lucky, just frustrating and vague enough to get you out of it altogether. After hearing that three or four times, your wife/girlfriend/significant chickie will get the hint, and realize that you’re probably not going to do the thing, after all. Expectation managed, and without resorting to non-truths. Congratulations. See how easy this is?

And I could go on and on, gents, but I think you probably get the idea by now. You don’t need me to show you how to get out of going to the opera (‘Can we really, exactly define what ‘the opera’ is? Nah.‘), or cleaning up your room (‘Do I honestly own the room? Can it really ever be completely clean?‘), or wiggling out of getting ‘caught’ sniffing your wife’s dirty underwear (‘Hey, I didn’t see you buy the things, honey — I don’t know that they’re ‘your undies’, now, do I?‘).

Um, yeah… okay, that last one hit a little close to home, didn’t it? I think I may have given away just a bit too much information about how I spend my Sunday afternoons.

(Hey, the time between football games can be very challenging to fill. Just be glad I have a hobby, would you?)

So I think I’ll consider this a job completed, and sign off for the night. I hope you folks have found something you can use in all of this. And when in doubt, men, just remember the one thing that’s always true — when in doubt, we really know nothing for sure. And that’s pretty damned hard to argue with, isn’t it, ladies?

Permalink  |  3 Comments

3 Responses to “The ‘Truth’ Will Set You Free”

  1. Twisted mind you’ve got there Charlie. I like it.

  2. Jeff A says:

    I think that this is advice that I can use, thanks Charlie!

  3. tj says:

    i’m gonna keep that panty sniffing one tucked away … just in case.

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