One time I had a 103 degree fever so I went to the doctor. On the way there I had stop at a very busy gas station to fill my tank. When I arrived at the doctor’s office I signed in at the front desk. Then I waited for an obscene amount of time in an extremely crowded waiting room. After I’d seen the doctor, she sent me down the hall to get a blood test. While drawing my blood, the lab technician said, “Hon, you have toothpaste on your chin.”
Sure enough, I had a neon green glob, the size of a pea, right there for all the world to see. And for all intents and purposes, the whole world HAD seen it. I must have come face to face with at least 50 people that morning between the gas station and the waiting room, and none of them had the courage and/or desire to inform me that in my fever-soaked delirium I had not done a very good job of brushing my teeth.
And why is that? Did they think this was some kind of fashion statement and I would be insulted if they drew attention to it? I can’t relate to that at all. I won’t hesitate to tell you if your fly is down, or if you have a blue paint on the end of your nose, or if your hair is sticking straight up. Yeah, it’s a bit awkward for a split second, but I know that I would want to know if the situation were reversed.
Some information is a little harder to impart, such as when someone has really bad breath or body odor, or if the crack of one’s behind is on display. I have to admit that even I tend to hesitate in those situations. But if I can figure out a way to handle it discretely, I’ll still make the effort.
Some things I’d only tell people with whom I’m extremely close. For example, “Your husband is having an affair,” or “That guy you’re about to go into business with is a binge drinker in the middle of a particularly nasty lawsuit for embezzlement.” People have a right to make their own choices and live their own lives, but I’d like to think that I would help my loved ones make informed decisions.
And there are still other things that are better left unsaid. Those bits of information fall into the realm of opinion. For example, I’d never say, “Mary, some colors should never be worn together, and those two definitely fall within that realm,” or “Your hairdo is straight out of the 1970’s. Haven’t you noticed that you are the only one on the planet with hair that style? There’s a reason for that,” or “I don’t think it’s a good idea to buy your wife a vacuum cleaner for your golden wedding anniversary.”
But for what it’s worth, if you see me walking down the street and my shirt is inside out, I’d really like to know. Thanks in advance.
Since I really do think that every once in a while you deserve an extra treat, I’ll leave you with a poem I had to recite in high school.
“To A Louse, On Seeing One on a Lady’s Bonnet at Church“
by Robert Burns