Truth and consequences

Rick Ryckeley's picture

It seems to me that life is about knowing the right answers, knowing when to speak them and knowing when to keep your big fat mouth shut. I first became aware of this at the tender age of 6. That is when us boys, lined up in front of Dad, were being interrogated as to how Mom’s crystal vase got smashed, the one they got in Europe during their honeymoon.

Being the youngest, I stood at the end of the line. One by one, my brothers denied any knowledge of how the vase got shattered even though they all knew full well how it happened: a game of beanbag tag and a misplaced throw by Older Brother Richard. No one would confess. Then it was my turn.

Mom and Dad told us if we told the truth, we wouldn’t get into trouble. So when asked, I told the truth; however the truth did not set me free. It got me into trouble. That’s the first time I realized that you may indeed know the right answer, but sometimes you’re smarter if you know when to keep your big fat mouth shut.

Years after the beanbag episode, that concept was beaten into me one day after school. Old Mrs. Crabtree had asked her third-grade class who covered the blackboard with spitballs when she was out of the room. Everybody knew it was Down the Street Bully Brad, but no one would answer. No one, that is, until she asked me.

My parents had beaten into me at an early age to always tell the truth. That day after school, Bully Brad beat into me another point. Even if you do know the correct answer, sometimes it’s good to keep your big fat mouth shut. Unfortunately, it would still be many years later before I mastered the concept.

Briarwood High, home of the Mighty Buccaneers, held my next lesson in truth and consequences. It was time for the Junior/Senior dance. Since I was a senior, I thought I should ask someone to go. That someone was none other than Candi, my girlfriend since Old Mrs. Crabtree’s class ... or so I thought.

She turned me down because she already had a date. Thanks to Blabber Mouth Betsey telling the truth for a change, I found out she really didn’t. She was waiting for Preston Weston to ask her out. He went to the dance with Brenda, the head cheerleader, and Candi sat home alone.

It seems Candi didn’t know that not telling the truth gets people in trouble too. Thoroughly confused, I left Briarwood behind and have been stumbling through life ever since, trying to dance that fine line between when to tell the truth and when it’s better not to say anything.

That is until last week. That’s when The Wife asked me if I liked her new haircut and color. Again, I was at a loss as to how to respond.

If I said yes it looks much better, I would be admitting that the old style and color was not as attractive. If I said no, I liked the old one better, I would be saying I didn’t like the new one.

Armed with the knowledge that I indeed possessed the right answer, I finally did what has taken me over 44 years to learn. I kept my big fat mouth shut.

After a smile and a peck on the cheek, I told her that she always looked adorable to me. Then I headed for the basement. We’re trying to finish it and there are hours of painting to be done down there.

Maybe by then, The Wife would’ve forgotten that I never really gave an answer to her question. Maybe.

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