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Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Cooties, Liars and Snitches

When I was a kid there were a handful of crimes that made you a pariah on the playground: having cooties; being an Indian Giver (not PC now, but that’s what we called it back-in-the-day); snitching; lying; and being two-faced.  It was the Five Fingers of Friendship Death upon you if you possessed any of those qualities.  Outside of my epic lie of “I’m a twin” when I was a preteen, I was only accused of the cooties thing once and it turned out to be pink eye.  So, I remained relatively unscathed throughout the days of my childhood and managed to have my fair share of friends (many I still have today).

 

In June I have the dubious honor of turning 50, and it has been one of life’s more interesting truths to see that a number of people carry the above-mentioned qualities with them right into adulthood making them not necessarily friend-worthy.  We refer to grown-ups with these traits as being “without character”.  Or famous, if they possess two or more such qualities (reality TV feeds off of it and is, apparently, paparazzi catnip) and it seems that most of their “friends” are paid to be in their sordid circle.

 

Let’s break it down in playground terms, shall we? 

 

Cooties

In the real world, the cooties thing translates to communicable diseases and that’s just not going to make you any friends.  Unless, they are friends with access to antibiotics and anti-viral medication.  And prescription strength salve wouldn’t hurt either.

 

Indian Givers

If you’re the kind of person who gives a gift (literal or figurative) and wants it back (or something equivalent in return) later, the bad news is you’re not going to have many friends.  The good news is that we don’t use the politically incorrect term of Indian Giver anymore.  You’re just a jerk.  Oh, I’m sorry – a heartless jerk.

 

Snitches

Snitching is now called Neighborhood Watch or some variation on turning the bad guys in (vandals, traffic offenders, etc.) and I’m all for it.  If you’re a snitch with integrity and a moral backbone, then I’m happy to call you my friend and take you to tea.  However, if you’re just telling-to-tell, then I’ll call you Gladys Kravitz and send you home.

 

Liars

In regards to lying, well, I dunno.  I’ve tried for years to make peace with the White Lie Code and no matter what, it still seems wrong.  Lying is lying and, even if we’re upset, I think it is best if we all just adopt Thumper’s Mama’s advice of “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”  Perhaps amending it to “If you can’t say something truthful…” And leave it at that.  Lying begets lying and no good ever comes of it.

 

Two-Faced

That leaves us with those who are two-faced.  We are all rather two-faced, when you think about it.  I mean, some of us will tell that R-rated joke to one group of friends, but not another.  But, it is a fine, transparent line between being two-faced to save face and being a full-blown hypocrite with a shiny smile on your face and coal in your soul.

 

Gabriel Garcia Marque (Nobel Prize winner and author of Love in the Time of Cholera) said that, “All human beings have three lives; public, private and secret.”  Hmmm.  Admittedly, I’m not very good at all things mathematical, but that rather adds up to being three-faced, doesn’t it?  I believe it is that added secret element that makes a person the most dangerously faced of all.  These are the people who will privately engage in behavior that they publicly denounce with a secret in their hearts.  Such as: one who lives with their beloved, while preaching to others that they shouldn’t and scurries to bury all signs of a wicked past (except the parts they can explain away); the man who clandestinely meets with his Scarlet Letter woman for months, while still tending to his civic duties and matters at home (matters that include a loving, dedicated wife and adoring kids); the elder of a local tribe who claims to give his heart to a greater cause, which, for him, now seems to be his secretary and some other illicit activities, all the while hoping that nobody will notice (or be brave enough to speak to him about it).  Yes, two-faced is certainly bad but three-faced is definitely worse (the equivalent of morality cooties).  No friends for you!

 

Yes, we grow and the sandbox gets bigger and more complicated to navigate and the rules of our games change slightly, but the politics of it all are still pretty much the same.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could work it out with a spirited game of dodgeball or the magical inoculation of “circle, circle, dot-dot-dot… now you’ve had your cooties shot!”  Oh, the problems we could solve (or cure).

 

 

“A la guerre, les trois quarts sont des affaires morales, la balance des forces reelle n’est que pour un autre quart.” / “In war, three-quarters turns on personal character and relations; the balance of manpower and materials counts only for the remaining quarter.” – Napoleon I

 

If you’re going to be two-faced, at least make one of them pretty.”  — Marilyn Monroe

 

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