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Published on: 07/13/08 5:55 AM

Feature: Those Little White Lies

Little white lies!

Men and women tell lies to each other, sometimes deliberately, sometimes unwittingly. There’s a reason behind the pile of untruths.


No one wants to tell lies, we promise you that. Sometimes, it is to cover up an error, at other times, to spare someone from getting hurt. What we are dealing with, here, is the province of lies that attempts to bridge a yawning gap between men and women. Small, stupid lies that actually are so flimsy, they don’t work in the least. However, we persist with them.

Here’s a collection of the lies most men resort to, time and again.

No, you don’t look fat in that outfit. Actually, you know you do, he thinks so, too. But he knows it is better not to tell the truth at such times. Which leaves it to women to either challenge the statement or accept it with good grace.

I’m sorry. We are not saying he isn’t sorry for whatever hurt he has caused you. The point is men and dogs share a very short term memory. So, most of the time, he is utterly clueless about what it is he is supposed to have done that has you so irritated/annoyed or furious. Some wise man told him long ago that it’s best to say ‘sorry’ and keep saying ‘sorry,’ till the atmosphere rights itself.

I was just joking. Believe us when we tell you that whatever it is he said to you a moment ago, at which you have taken such severe umbrage, was said in right earnest. In other words, he meant it. He was not joking. Being no one’s fool, the moment the words were uttered, the moment a telling expression crossed your face, he realised, to his dismay, that the situation needs quick salvaging. Hence the claim that he was joking.

Yes, your best friend is nice/intelligent. Actually, he doesn’t like her. He feels just that bit threatened by her, since she shares such a close relationship with you and what’s worse (for him), she was on the scene years before he made his appearance. However, our man knows better than to let on his antagonism towards her, which will earn him endless lectures, if not worse, from you. Best to pretend, then.

Of course your job matters. This one is a bad one but we have to tell it like it is. Most men are so self-absorbed, they don’t factor in just how much your job means to you. Call it male chauvinism, call it selfishness, call it a blinkered vision but their work world revolves around their jobs, their tiffs with the boss, their raises and promotions or lack thereof. Yes, of course, you have a job. It’s something that keeps you occupied.

Now before men start to protest that we are indulging in some deep-rooted prejudices against them, let’s right the balance, shall we? What’s sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose, too, and there are a few stand-by lies that women invariably fall back on, to save face, save a situation, get them out of a sticky problem. Lies like…

Your friends are a nice lot. Actually, she has never seen a bigger bunch of boors, slobs and ill-mannered dolts. It is her one-point-programme to wean you away from these school and college mates of yours. But she is subtle, see?

You really showed your boss what`s what. When she heard just how you reacted to a telling off from your boss, just what you said in response, her heart sank. Because she is a woman of great tact and would have handled the situation better, leaving the boss with the feeling that here is someone who takes constructive criticism well, and who will move up in the organisation. Which in all probability, is not how your boss is feeling right now.

I admire your money management skills. Truth to tell, she can teach you a thing or two about budgeting. Only, you have never realised or acknowledged that skill in her, so she prefers to run the household, see to the extras for kids and holidays, and also save for the proverbial rainy day, all quietly, without fanfare. It is the same way she gently turns your attention away from the impulsive buy you are about to splurge on.

No, I don’t want you to change. No, she doesn’t want you to change…much. She just wants you to acquire a better sense of style, better manners, a more caring attitude and some culinary skills. And while you are at it, if you could change your kith and kin for a better lot, she would only be too happy!

I was just joking. Whatever it is she said to you a moment ago, about which you are so offended, was said in right earnest. In other words, she meant it. She was not joking. Of course, the moment the words were uttered, the moment she saw the expression on your face, she realised some quick wordplay was needed, to save the situation. Hence the claim that she was joking.

This ran in THE HINDU of 12 J7uly 2008.

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Sheila Kumar • July 13, 2008

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