My Policy of Honesty
Honesty as the best policy has been one of my creeds since it was hammered into my head at Sunday school as a small child. With the threat of eternal damnation and the contribution of many a childhood story about the pitfalls that befall a liar, the philosophy of honesty was woven into the fabric of my person. Not a blunt, hurtful honesty, but a pastel shade of gentle honesty.
When I was a child one incident that illustrates my own propensity to self-manage my honesty was when my mom queried whether my childhood fingers had been in her makeup. My vehement response was one of innocence; though, I was complete guilty of this cosmetic crime. Wrestling with my conscience for the entire morning, the truth finally spilled from me admitting my misdemeanor. Other than a serenely-clear conscience, I was admittedly slightly disappointed that my confession didn’t yield appropriate appreciation Granted, any punishment was withheld, but if this had been an incident in a childhood story, there would have been a parade in my honour.
Like all good policies, however, mine has one exception…well, maybe more than one, but this is a blog post, not a tell all.
Lying in a padded chair with a fluorescent light powering down on my face highlighting every twitch, every flaw, every blink, my composure is unflappably calm, measured and prepared for the question that is coming from my masked inquisitor.
“Have you been flossing?” Asks my dentist of 40 plus years.
“Yeth,” I reply and smile, as much as you can do with hands in your mouth…but we both know I’m full of it.
This has been a dance my dentist and I have been playing since I have had to use a stool to get into the hygienist’s chair and could take moral responsibility for the state of my teeth. Heaven forbid he tack any more onto that question like “daily” or “regularly.” On those occasions, my conscience does a small tweak, and with my fingers crossed as I respond, I promise myself silently to floss daily for the next two weeks in flossing penance.
It’s not that I don’t floss. I’m just not what you would call a consistent flosser. I am more of a how-tired-am-I…is the moon aligned with Venus…flosser.
The dentist though at this point in his career just expects the lie. You can see the resignation in his eyes after being lied to by every patient who has sat before him.
In fact when my son was old enough to know the value of a well-placed lie, he completely flummoxed the dentist. Upon asking the flossing question, my son looked him directly in the eye and replied, “No.” After taking a few moments to collect himself and a weak chuckle, he gave him a small jab in the arm and said “do better.” I admire that kind of honesty, but wouldn’t be quite as adorable coming from a 40+ year old woman.
Pick Your Moments
Now I’m not purporting lying as a standard practice. However, to maintain a professional relationship with the person who can potentially hold a drill to your head seems reasonable. In fact I don’t just recommend, I encourage lying in this instance. Think of the anarchy that would ensue if we all started to be honest with that question. Our free sample size (or as I like to call it…year’s supply) of floss gifted by the dentist would dry up. Flossing industries would come crashing down…though I’m pretty sure they’re subsidized by the government.
It’s just not worth it. Lie to your dentist. Preserve the relationship.
Lying through your teeth doesn’t count as flossing. – Unknown