It's been brought to my attention recently that I lack in um...how do you say?...tact.
Shocking, I know.
But hear me out...
Always one to prize complete disclosure with regard to one's thoughts, feelings, beliefs and judgments, I was recently appalled to learn that being completely forthright about where one stands is generally embraced by modern society with the overwhelming exuberance usually reserved for, say, leprosy and child molesters.
Simply put--and as my dear, deceased grandma would say--"you draw more flies with honey than vinegar"(and as someone who inherited said grandmother's sense of tact, the irony of this statement is not lost on me...)
Yes, my friends, apparently if you want to have...oh, I dunno...friends and shit...you have to learn to shuck the criticism and "play nice." Because, you see dears, everyone loves rainbows and kitties and unicorns. Smiles and fireflies constitute universal "happy places." And "Kumbaya" ain't a classic for no reason.
Thing is though, rainbows and smiles fade, kitties and fireflies both die when placed in jars, and "Kumbaya," while great with smores, loses its luster on second-singing. Put simply, just ask Charlie what happens to unicorns when they abandon their common sense, opting instead for the sugary-sweet joys of Candy Mountain. (For reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5im0Ssyyus)
Bitter? Yeah maybe. Or maybe I'm just "being real."
Growing up I was lied to. A lot. And that early exposure to the duplicity inherent in human nature had a profound impact on my psyche. I watched as the adults society designated for me to emulate said one thing and did another. I saw rewards for lies and delight in deceit, and I suffered in silence as the injustice of it burned in my tiny tummy. As a result, I doubt my age had reached double digits before I made the decision that, no matter what, I was going to be frank and forthright with everyone, consequences be damned. To me, this manner of living was a refreshing alternative to the syrupy sweet taste of bullshit to which I was accustomed...but to others...well, it seems my tendency toward the bitter truth may have proven equally unpalatable.
Some people just can't take it.
I used to be okay with that fact.
Now I am not.
With furrowed brow I ask you, "When is the time for tact?"
I always justified my "being real" as either refreshing honesty or a dose of tough love--both happy alternatives to what I always saw as the deluded nonsensical swill bandied about by miscreants with either less backbone or less scruples than the true humanitarians (like myself, of course) who see fit to "tell it like it is." But lately I have been wondering: At what point does "being real" translate into "being cruel"? And when does "tough love" cross that gossamer boundary that separates "helpful" from "hateful"?
When does "brutal honesty" become...just..."brutal"?
When Tennessee Williams penned his masterpiece, "A Streetcar Named Desire," he placed at its nucleus the iconic characters of Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski, two diametrically opposed powerhouses whose interactions literally explode from the page. Blanche, a world-worn southern belle, is prone to illusion and exaggeration (ie. bullshit)--continuously repainting her melancholy world in self-deluding rose colored hues. Stanley, corporeal to Blanche's ethereal, is no-nonsense. Brutal honesty. Love it or leave it. Talk about a clash of the Titans.
The two cannot coexist.
Honesty destroys the illusion.
But the thing is...when confronted with Stanley's honesty and Blanche's illusion, I pull for Blanche every time. I, who in demeanor and belief mimic Stanley to an astonishing degree, must admit that reality is much more palatable with perfume and paper lanterns thrown in to dim the harsh light of reality.
So what does that say about me?
In one of her final speeches, Blanche famously relates,"But some things are not forgivable. Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable! It is the one unforgivable thing in my opinion, and the one thing of which I have never, never been guilty."
Am I deliberately cruel?
Yesterday I jumped out of an airplane to overcome a physical fear. Today I confront a psychological one. And while both involve falling headfirst into open space, I must confess the psychological fear is proving more disorienting than uncontrollably plummeting 14,000 feet.
Only 24 hours ago my body landed firmly on solid ground. Be brutally honest with me--will my brain do likewise?