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Wednesday, 14 October 2009

White lies...

Yesterday something happened that made me think of white lies.

I was rushing to go meet a Mexican friend of mine at the BFI. Actually, I say friend, but I have never met him. We are facebook acquaintances. Facebook has a wonderful community of Mexicans abroad, and of course, I joined as quickly as I found this glorious group. In true Mexican spirit, when I announced that I was to be coming to London, I was contacted by group members, asking if I needed any help relocating to London, a place to stay, a job, a tour of England... Viva Mexico! Solidarity at its finest.

So, yesterday, I was finally going to meet one of the Mexicans. I was excited. I mean really excited. I wrote my blog in the morning, went for a jog, did regular administrative things ... I attempted to hide the popped zit on the side of my mouth which makes me look like I have herpes (not the best first impression...) Then of course I noticed it was already 5 and I was to be at the BFI at 6, so I rushed into the shower, washed like a frantic baboon, scrambled into my outfit (which I had luckily already picked out in my head whilst jogging), literally threw makeup onto my face, started to run out of the door, caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and decided I looked like a 7 year old having stolen makeup from my mother, readjusted my face, took a deep breath, then off I went, skipping to the tube station...(if you skip you look less like a maniac than if you run, and it is faster than walking...a win win situation really).

It is guaranteed that whenever I am late, (which is rare), something happens on my journey. Yesterday, the tube stopped at Camden Station. The lady on the loud speaker mumbled something. I thought she said that the train had now become a Morden via Bank one, and for all those who wanted via Charring Cross, get off! All this I deciphered from her sulky miserable tone, so I jumped off. I wanted the freakin' Charring Cross branch! Argh! Then the train just stood there, door open. Nobody budged. I looked up at the screen and it said that this train was a Charring Cross branch. I was, as you can imagine, confused. I hate when you have attempted to make yourself look effortlessly nice, and these things happen. Why? I get flustered, and start to sweat. I am a very cold person. As we say in Mexico, I have cold hands but a warm heart. Now my hands were hot, and I was panicking because it was 5:50. I was going to be late. Being late for a Mexican shouldn't really be a big deal. In Mexico when you invite people over for dinner at 7, you really mean 8, and they arrive at 9. It is just a way of life. If you come at 7, you are rude, nothing is ready, and you look like a fool. If you come at 8, you are forgiven. Arrive at 9? You hit the jackpot and everyone is happy. I, however, did not want to be late. I wanted to be there at 6, Norwegian style, punctual, looking cool as a cat.

I gathered my thoughts, and finally decided to get back on the fucking (yes by this time I was angry...) train. Damn it! I think I may have sworn and muttered curses under, or indeed over my breath...I got stares. Believe me, at this point, I was beyond caring. Finally, the train, going at a turtles pace, meandered into embankment station. Again, fate decided I was to stand behind a very wide woman on the escalators. In London you stand on the right side, and those who want to walk and exercise there patunkus (butt, ass, derriere, bottom) do so on the right. the woman in front of me was so wide, nobody could even dream of passing. I was standing behind her, so people nudged me, as if I was to blame. I sort of shifted to the right, sort of turned around, eyed the annoyed crowd behind me, and shrugged kind of indicating with my head at the lady infront of me. Luckily, they understood, and we all stood in silence, counting to ten to exercise some patience.... ( I know this is horrible of me to say, but alas, I am not mean a lot, and so...well...let it pass.)

Over the Waterloo bridge I raced, ducking people as if I was a boxer avoiding my opponents punches. I was swift, I was fast; I whipped through the crowd. As I approached the BFI, I slowed down, breathed, fixed my hair, re-applied lipstick, adopted my "why hello! I have just shimmied on down stress, all is cool..", smoochy look.

My phone rang.

It was the Mexican. Guess what? He wasn't coming. Poor fella' had been in a car crash and the front of his car was squashed. He was very embarrassed and apologetic. I was just glad nothing happened to him. I got off the phone, took a deep breathe, and stared out at the Thames. With St. Paul's cathedral on one side, and Big Ben and the Westminster on the other, who cares if you've been stood up? I giggled at myself and the hysteria that had engulfed me earlier. I know he was telling the truth because I could hear the traffic in the background, and police men etc. It was this that reminded me of white lies....

When I was a little girl, there were times when my friends would ask me over and I would not want to go. For fear of saying no, and looking like a dork, I would ask my parents to pretend they weren't letting me go...."Hi, no, I can't go. I know, My parents said no. I have to stay home and help them clean/do homework/bake/be Cinderella/walk my dog/wash my dog/go to sleep....

I would rather tell a white lie at times. Somebody once told me this was a cultural thing. I was very hurt. Is it a Mexican thing? No. My Pakistani friends do it too, Indian friends, Spanish friends, French, South African (I just realized it may sound like I am boasting of having many friends from all over.....I do. Result of going to an International school, but believe me, there are times I wish we all lived in the same country. Especially as I can't afford to go to all those places!)

I think the culture of white lies is quite ingrained all over the world. I think it is great! I mean instead of hurting people's feelings, you can make a little story up. Nothing too big. That way you are happy, and the other person can live in blissful ignorance. The truth at times is so blunt and unkind. In fact, isn't life a lot more pleasant if we help the narration of it? If cold old truth and life were to be the chief narrators of our existence, we would be in a dull and grey place. Let me tell you. So spice it up a bit....believe me, it really is a win win situation.

Let me just add that you should not white lie if it hurts the other person. You know the basics... Just thought I'd say that so you don't think I am a sinful creature promoting harming others.

"Go in peace". Sermon over.

1 comment:

  1. Jenny, you would love the chapter I've just finished of the book I'm reading - a good chunk of it is looking at the linguistics of politeness, how it is almost a small white lie we tell and why, with the phsycology and sociology behind it all - really fascinating!

    The Stuff of Thought - Steven Pinker