Thursday, 12 January 2012

You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!

Honesty is the best policy. If I lose mine honour, I lose myself
William Shakespeare

I haven’t always been a bitch. I used to be Miss Nice Girl: warm-hearted, well-intentioned, good-spirited and obliging, always with a big, cheerful smile and kind words for everyone, no matter how despicable they may be. The female version of the Flanders kids, if you will.
And then one day I consciously decided to stop the farce and, as cliché as it sounds, just be me. I don’t recall what exactly triggered this decision but I can very vividly remember making it.
I’ve since been brutally frank, honest, candid and earnest, on all occasions, with everyone. This means I can say, with equal ease, “I love you, you’re the best person in the world” if I believe this to be true or “I don’t like you mainly because you’re overweight, ignorant and dress like a retired eastern European hooker” if I also believe this to be true of someone. And, yes, I’ve said both. Guess which comment was deemed “offensive”?
Thing is, when I’m nice, I’m really nice. Not to toot my own horn or anything but I really do my best to be a fun, supportive friend, a loving, loyal girlfriend, an honourable, grateful daughter and a devoted, generous aunt. I’m sure I fail on many occasions as a friend, girlfriend, daughter and aunt but, heck, I genuinely put my heart and soul in being the best I can.
But when I don’t like someone, I just don’t like them and I’m done pretending. I’ll be courteous and polite, in the strict minimum amounts required by society, but that’s it.

Let’s take my co-workers, for instance. I have a couple of friends at my current job that have exceeded the “colleague” status and are now my good friends with whom I hang out away from the office, exchange texts, meet up for drinks or a jog and brunch, etc. With these two friends I’m really nice, I bring them left over brownies I’ve baked the day before, go to the water-cooler to laugh and chat, help out with their work load… You get the picture.
And then there are all the remaining co-workers who I don’t like. Some are plain indifferent, I may not want to be friends with them but I’ll give them a warm “Hello” and might even ask about their weekend. But most of them, I really don’t like and even if I have to work with them day in day out, share an open space and spend (sadly) most of my waking hours during the week with these people, I won’t even make an effort to be nice. Screw that, I’m over pretending that I like people I really don’t.
The guy that sits at the desk behind me gets particularly on my nerves, for a number of reasons. First, he’s not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed and, because of that, he’s a nervous wreck: constantly questioning everything he does, he’s insecure and inefficient and whenever he musters up the confidence to do something without double-checking with everyone else on the team, he usually f*cks up, so it’s a lose-lose situation, poor guy. You can almost hear the pee trickle down his pants, that’s how tense he gets. Second, he smokes. A lot. He’s constantly getting up from his desk and consequently bumping into my chair (I’ll be wearing a neck-brace soon, I’m sure) and then comes back with an expresso and contaminates the entire open space with his nauseating nicotine/caffeine breath. Third, he’s got a A3 size picture of his daughter on the desk that freaks me out: she’s got this creepy Mona Lisa stare that just follows you around and I feel like I’m being constantly watched, with this icy stare piercing through my back. Ergh. Fourth, he forwards “wacky” emails and sinister pseudo government conspiracy theories, which should be reason enough to get him shot. Fifth, he tries way too hard to befriend me and join in the “young gang” at the office by making lame music references: he once asked me if I’d seen the U2 musical and, honest to God, I didn’t staple his tongue to his forehead only because I was out of staples that day. I would’ve, though, he had it coming.
I know, you’re appalled. I’m a horrible, horrible person. This poor man hasn’t done anything wrong, he hasn’t offended me in any way; quite on the contrary, he’s only tried to be nice. So I should at least make an effort and not roll my eyes in contempt or sigh disdainfully every time he says or does anything. But I can’t help myself, it’s like I’ve taken this honesty pill, I’m Jim Carrey in Liar Liar. (I’ve never actually seen that film so I don’t know if not being able to lie ends up being a good or bad thing. I should download that someday.)

I realize my behaviour may be inappropriate at the office but, hey, at least my family, who raised me with moral values and praised honesty as a virtue, will accept me as this true-talking bitch, right?
Turns out, being frank doesn’t mix too well with susceptibility. Yeah, I know! Crazy, right?
Unlike my cold-shoulder treatment to office-douche, I’m not mean to my family, obviously, because I love them to death. They love me unconditionally as I do them and I have so much to be grateful for I wouldn’t know where to begin.
One of the great things my family gave me was a sense of humour. We’re a funny bunch at home and mocking one another is pretty much a hobby of ours. Very seldom will you be praised in my family. We’re not exactly the supportive type: we’d rather point out your short-comings, poke fun at them (it’s always funnier when it’s true, right?) and toast to your downfall. What a laugh! Sounds cruel but it’s actually rather healthy and helps grow a thick-skin, learn to stand up for yourself, be an expert at witty comebacks and, ultimately, actually take into account whatever the joke aimed and improve your flaws. But there’s always the odd family member that seems to have skipped the funny gene and will ruin Christmas dinner because you made a remark you thought hilarious but they found insensitive. And adding “Jeez, grow up, will you? It’s a joke!” doesn’t seem to do much good, particularly when it’s your 60-something aunt. I know what you’re thinking: I should be stoned in public for being such an insolent, rude, despicable shrew. Perhaps, but this is who I am: I’ll say what I think, I won’t filter my opinions because of others and most certainly won’t compromise my honesty.
Listen, it’s not like I walk around all day insulting people. I’m not a sociopath, I know when to keep my mouth shut and walk away when I’m not able to lie and telling the truth will end my life/career. But when neither life nor career is jeopardized, I’ll speak my mind and act accordingly, even more so when I care for this person and respect them.
I realize this attitude grants me a fair share of enemies. If I were to be killed and there were to be a CSI investigation (let Warrick do the autopsy, please!), I’m pretty sure there’d be a long list of suspects (although I’d bet on my douchey co-worker).
You’re taught honesty is a virtue but try talking the truth and all of a sudden you’re Satan incarnated. Jack Nicholson said it best: “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!” (although I’m sure he was talking about Tom Cruise being gay, Scientology bullsh*t and Katie Holmes kidnapped into that sham marriage, although, chronologically, this is impossible. Still…).