Monday, November 14, 2011

Mendacity: Or Lack Thereof - Monday Wrinkled Brows

Last evening we went to dinner at the home of some new/old
friends.  They are new/old because the lady  (B.)is an old friend of the *LOC's, whom he had not seen in thirty years, and whom I had never met. Neither of us had ever met her husband (A.), so another new friend.  (*Lovable Old Coot)

They are "foodies" and pet lovers.  I could readily relate to the latter category, but admittedly struggle with the former.  One of their pets was a basset hound named Freckles and he was a sweetie.  Thankfully, he liked us, because B.  told us frankly that if Freckles disliked a guest they never invite that person back; because Freckles has impeccable instincts. 

Apparently Freckles does not have a mendacious bone in his long, low-slung little body.  We don't hear much about mendacity these days.  That tendency toward dishonesty, the little social fib meant to amuse, distract or entertain is par for the course.

The strict definition of mendacity is, of course, dishonesty or a lie; but the more nuanced meaning is the untruth told without the intent of really convincing the listener, but more of distracting or entertaining, such as "the tales of his adventures were offered tongue-in-cheek."

I engaged in a little mendacity myself during our visit and was not proud of myself.  However, I could not - simply could not - think what else to do.  Later the LOC called me on it, too; and that rankled.

My mendacity (almost sounds like a song title, doesn't it?  along the lines of "My Cheri Amour") came about this way.  B. was getting ready to cook our dinner.  She had many ingredients laid out on the counter, just beneath her high-caliber cookware which hung from a stainless steel oval rack overhead:  shades of Emeril, Rachel Ray, and the like.

Now I am from the Midwest and I know how to fry things.  I also can bake, and when pressed, I can occasionally saute with a certain flair.  But the sight of all those shining pots and pans hanging overhead (and everyone knows that only serious cooks hang their cookware overhead) already had me a bit intimidated.  And then she goes and pulls out a super-sized wok as she says with a lilting smile, "I hope you like Thai food.  No one has any shell-fish allergies do they?  We are doing shrimp and calamari."

The LOC says, "I've only had it once or twice, but I love seafood."  And I just murmured assent - mendaciously.  I've never knowingly eaten calamari (squid) in my life, and I only like shrimp deep-fried in a nice egg batter!

The evening progressed with lots of conversation accompanied by a wonderfully mellow Barberra red wine.  I only had about two or three ounces because I rarely imbibe, and am one of those folks for whom alcohol has only one effect:  I need a nap.  Since it is impolite to fall asleep in the middle of Thai food at new/old friends house ... well, you can understand.

Actually the vegetables - and there must have been about a hundred (now that was a mendacious assertion :) - in the platter B. served were delicious.  They were all home-grown, in their raised, organic beds right in their own backyard.  I tried not to think about what I was ingesting whenever I happened upon a bit of the calamari among the veggies.

Our post-dinner perambulation took us through their three distinct gardens.  One contains a patio, a koi pond with a waterfall, and wonderful shade trees; a second consists of the aforementioned raised vegetable beds; and a third is where they grow their fruit trees (for all the homemade jam she cans) and various dwarf trees like the pomegranate in a large pot.

Out front was a lovely grassy yard, with a bird bath and more shade trees, and with a nice horseshoe pit off to the side.  B. explained that their summer parties are all held outdoors and guests ramble through all three garden areas at their pleasure.  I could well imagine.

As we prepared to leave (I needed to get back "down the hill" to K.'s house where I am care giving while my son recuperates from surgery) B. insisted we take a jar of her pomegranate jam, which we were glad to do.  During the course of the evening, A. and B. had asked how I came to be staying at my son's, and thus were aware of his situation.

Therefore, B. also offered a container of her homemade vegetable soup for K. I smiled politely and said "That is very kind of you."  Later when I gave the container to the LOC, just before I pulled out of our driveway to head back to K.'s, he said, "But that is for K."  I explained that K. does not like soup, and I did not want to waste it; whereas I know very well that the LOC loves soup, especially vegetable soup, so this would be a real treat for him, during these days as he is making do mostly by himself.

This is when he "called me" on my mendacity.  "But you said K. would like it.", he challenged.

"No, I said 'That is very kind of you' ". I did not want to hurt her feelings.  But he was right, I had left the impression that the soup would go to K. Sighhhhhhh.....

You know, it is very hard to be a completely honest person.  I am just saying....
                                    * * * * *

Hope you are contemplating your integrity with more satisfaction than I am this evening.  I am considering how to engage in less mendacity going forward.  Of course, I could just be over-thinking this whole thing:  it's been known to happen.

Until next time, your less than totally candid, wrinkled brows friend...Marsha
Note:  Wrinkled Brows is an occasional Monday series on a word or quote of interest (perhaps only to me).



  1. My first response is a good hearty laugh, out loud!

    Second response is... what on EARTH are you going to do when it's their turn to come to YOUR house for dinner!!??

  2. Oh dear, I'm not a fish lover I'm afraid. I don't know what I would do if I was offered squid. Ewwwww. Well done you for eating it.
    Your post really made me smile!!

  3. Sonja - You have just given voice to my most recent nightmare. I did send them a "thank you" card today, for their hospitality. Hopefully, that will go a ways in buying me some goodwill, when they hit my table for hotdogs and beans. ! :)

    Ellie - I'm with YOU - ewwww. :)

  4. I don't think I could be mendacious at a time like that. I just can't make myself even try Ellie said...Ewwww! I would have asked for all veggies in mine.

    I am totally overwhelmed in those situations. I am a cook, not a chef...but a darn good one. I use pots and pans to cook in not as decorations. Oh well..

    I hope K is healing and you are resting...

  5. Doesn't this scenario happen to all os us at some time, where we have to pretend to like something we don't and accept something we won't use but then say, "Yes thanks that would be nice." Is it mendacity or just being polite?

  6. I wouldn't be able to knowingly eat calimari without an involuntary gag, but I also wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, either. I like your solutions-

  7. You are such a hoot...I love reading about your experiences because you give a twist that is funny....I couldn't help but laugh as I have been in a similar experience and one does have to watch each word........

    I will be waiting to hear about your invitation to feed them......

  8. Well, you liked the calamari? Maybe when you reciprocate you can fry some of it up for her. Hee hee. (I like mine fried, too)...

    I'm jus' guessin', but I really don't think God pays much attention to "Little white lies"...