Home Columns & Editorials Straight Talk

Straight Talk


As I type, my dog is in her bed, snoring her head off. The even sounds of her snores work as a sort of white noise machine, making it hard to feel anxious of my impending work deadlines. It also brings to mind the subject of voices we each hear in our own heads. Not the voices that urge you to send a lengthy manifesto to the Oval Office, or the ones that convince you to don a tin foil cap to keep aliens from reading your thoughts. I’m referring to those voices we each hear every time we’re confronted with a situation where we know what we WANT to say, but we also know what should be said. There are certain lines we all must decide if and when to cross.

What do you want to say when, for instance, someone asks you if their butt looks big in those pants, or if you like their new haircut, or how their child behaved at your house. If you want someone to be brutally honest, go ask your mother. Honesty may be the best policy, but what would life be like if we didn’t listen to those voices in our heads that help keep the peace while maintaining the orbits of the social circles in which we all travel?

There must be limits, I grant you. While I wouldn’t dare comment on the size of your ‘backyard’ in those pants, I would definitely let you know if your fly was open, or you were having some other sort of wardrobe malfunction. But if I don’t comment on your new hairstyle, get the hint. If it’s a dramatically different cut or style that people like, they will offer unsolicited, positive comments. On the other hand, if you made a huge change, and no one comments, this means you’re on the receiving end of a hair-don’t.

Furthermore, unless your kid does something crazy at my house, like try to burn it down or try to vivisection my dog, I’m gonna tell you things went just fine. If your kid is bossy or whiny or demanding, I bet you already know it. Hearing it from me isn’t gonna make much difference. They probably won’t be invited back to my house, but I’m guessing this may not be a new experience for you.

If you think keeping my thoughts to myself makes me sound like a chicken, then so be it. I know that holding my tongue in some situations not only helps keep things running smoothly, it also serves us both well. Who knows — this finely honed skill may be the only thing keeping you from getting your clock cleaned. So you’re welcome.