Honesty with Humor


Honesty with Humor


I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.
Groucho Marx


I seem to find myself in many situations in which I question whether or not to actually say what I am thinking, or for some reason–always perceived to be justified–to avoid, to dither, to dissemble, even to lie.

Do I tell well-loved relatives what I think of their political opinions or keep my thoughts to myself?

Do I express my feelings about a particular manifestation of religious fervor or just let it go?

When a friend proudly shows me a newly bought painting, do I say what I think, that it’s abominable? say nothing? change the topic? When my hostess asks if I liked her squid bouillabaisse, what do I say?

Most of the time when I try to straddle the line between a negative truth and a cover-up, my decision is unsatisfactory. I’ve either offended or prevaricated.

Enter Groucho–with humor (not that I recommend his comment above to any host). Is there a way I can actually tell the truth, softening with humor, kindness, understanding? Thus:

‘It’s a good thing we love one another or our political differences would do us in!’

‘You know there are some experiences in the religious history of each of us at which we can all laugh or which we all have in common.’

‘It’s wonderful! You’ve found a work of art that speaks deeply to you and graces your home!’

‘My dear, the bouillabaisse was exceptional, but the charm of the hostess outshines every aspect of the evening.’

No, I can’t hear myself saying those things, either. But let’s keep trying.

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White Space
White Space
White Space

Honesty with Humor

by David Kundtz time to read: 6 min