Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Truth, and the other



I once had a good friend who was a strict vegetarian, though I can't remember whether he based this dietary decision on health concerns or conscience.

In any case, he introduced me to a Chinese restaurant, not in Chinatown, but further south and east. This place served his favorite salad, one with chopped vegetables, spices, and what he believed to be the secret savory ingredient -- sesame.

A lean -- one might say thin, close to emaciated -- man, he ate very little, but he ate this salad once a week and with gusto. Great huge helpings. It made him happy. That he was eating at all made me happy, too. That what he was enjoying wasn't exactly sesame, well...

As a carnivore, I detected the secret ingredient in this salad from the get-go -- bacon. Bits of bacon, so tiny, they were undetectable to the naked eye, and likely a splash of bacon fat in the dressing.

So, you know, I had one of those existential quandaries. To tell or not tell my vegetarian friend what he really liked about these vegetables was, well, meat. On the to-tell side -- the bacon was a fact, a truth, a reality. On the not-to-tell-side -- the guy was happy -- and eating.

Was I wrong to say nothing, bacon-wise?

Oh, probably. My IQ sinks rapidly when answering moral questions.

This quandary recurs throughout our lives, or throughout my life, anyway. When I find a piece of truth, I wonder -- should I put it on the fork, hold the fork to the light, expose something which won't substantially contribute to one day's happiness for anyone, all in the name of truth?

I don't know the answer. I just know, it's something I have not and will not do.

Perhaps I'm aiding and abetting a fool's paradise. But so what -- I like fools, and I like paradise.

Besides, truth is not in short supply. Truth doesn't rot, or die from lack of attention, care, or water. "Truth will out," said someone. Probably Shakespeare, who was able to say everything worth saying, as he got there first. Damn his eyes (he said that, too).

Truth is ample, always there, on the table, waiting; often cold, but never stale. Ready when you are. And equally ready even if you're not.

36 comments:

  1. "To tell or not tell my vegetarian friend what he really liked about these vegetables was, well, meat."

    "My IQ sinks rapidly when answering moral questions."

    Some friends of mine and I have a saying, STFU. No need to create upset. Things often go better when you keep your mouth shut.

    It's all relative. If it's the big stuff, and important, it might need to come out.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think telling the truth depends on: the delivery, the personality of the person your telling it to, the mood of the situation, and whether the importance of whether telling it is that necessary... There are times I have held back because the person i may be telling, may go all 'ghetto' or was so fixated on something that it would go literally out the other ear. The older I get, I don't, as they say you gotta pick your battles..

    ReplyDelete
  3. If it would save his life, tell him. Otherwise, it's the pig who misses out. I guess that's the decision you had to make.

    “The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.” I like this quote from Neil deGrasse Tyson. It's not exactly what you're talking about but you made me think of it. I mean, the guy had bacon in his salad. That's the truth. Apparently not knowing that didn't cause him any pain.

    ReplyDelete


  4. I think Earl and his friends have the right idea.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ha, 'hidden bacon'.
    We invited a couple over who were very much tea-totalers. We had them over and Elenka mad a delicious rum cake. They loved it! Multiple pieces! They even took some to work the next day.
    No, they never asked for the recipe.
    Guilty pleasures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When alcoholic beverages are baked into a cake, doesn't the "benefit" of the alcohol dissipate? If so, does giving a rum cake to a tea-totaler really compromise them?

      Delete
  6. Probably slept very well that night, Birdman.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The dynamics of STFU: Much of what we think is just that - what we think. It's not necessarily the truth. Much of it is based on our ways of coping with the world. So the reason it's often useful to keep our mouths shut is because we're not really imparting truth, but just imparting our ways of thinking and reacting to things. If we keep quiet and give other people the space that allows, things generally go better. Often people don't want to know what we think, they just want someone to listen.

    ReplyDelete
  8. What Mr. Earl wrote. As for me, no meat in last day or so and not missing it much. However, next time I'm headed up to Portland I'm having the bacon at the Hi Lo Cafe in Weed, CA. Best bacon I've had in ages.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Replies
    1. If he was keeping kosher, he would never eat in a Chinese restaurant unless he absolutely knew it was a kosher Chinese restaurant, of which there are probably only a handful in the country. There is one in Pico Robertson, but it's well known to be kosher by those who frequent it. People who are serious about keeping kosher do not eat in ANY restaurants, unless they are absolutely sure they are kosher restaurants. And that's the truth!

      Delete
  10. Well, if you think you MQ is low, I think your PQ is pretty high. Telling the truth can be tricky. Truth can be a cover for just plain mean sometimes. If your lady has been prepping and primping for over an hour and is ready to roll, it is not the time to tell her the dress makes her look fat. That is best left for her best buddy to head her off in the shop before buying it.

    Personally, I find most vegan food is greatly improved with bacon. Chacun a son gout.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I believe it's better to lie and spare someone's feelings. Example: if your mother in law shows up wearing a sweater that looks like she's been slipcovered, and is clearly delighted with it, should you tell her you're glad she won the fight with the sofa for that garment? No. Be glad your friend is experiencing the joy of bacon, even if he is blissfully unaware of it. That's kind of like Mr. Earl's program of STFU, right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "...wearing a sweater that looks like she's been slipcovered, and just won the fight with the sofa." How I love that.

      Delete
    2. You're right, Marjie. And it works especially in every day situations. Let's say we're going somewhere and I get lost. You can either say, "You're always getting lost. Why didn't you look it up on Google before we left? You're always doing this!" Or you could say, "Have a piece of halvah. It's made from sesame seeds. And I think I may have a map in my purse."

      Delete
  12. So there's this guy on Bachelorette who decided that nothing is going anywhere with her. And he explains to the private camera that there's no point in sticking around. But when he sits down with her he elaborates. Tells her he thinks she's shallow and just wants to make out with a bunch of guys. Maybe the producers put him up to saying that, but she was devastated and he came off as a jerk. Totally unnecessary. I know you think I'm shallow because I watch the Bachelorette. But don't tell me the truth!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *Gasp* You mean the Bachelorette isn't a fine, scholarly study in human behavioral and mating rituals? I am stunned. Next, you'll be telling me that Survivor isn't a serious study in tribal ceremonies and celebrations. Oh, Mr. Earl, you've spoiled my notions that television is all intellectually stimulating wonderment!

      Delete
  13. I have been thinking on this as I travel and eat out in a week more than I've eaten out all year: I don't want to know what's in the food. I do my best to scope out what will be best/safest to eat. If I enjoy it, I don't need the ingredients. If I don't like it, I really don't want to know what's in there. And truthfully? Bacon has been part of the tastiest meals so far:)

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have occasionally made a vegetarian dish for a dinner party (at which a vegetarian was a guest) using a chicken stock cube, and kept mum about it because a. It was the only stock cube I had in my pantry; b. There's very little chicken in it anyway; and c. Even if there was, the chicken had already been killed and its life could no longer be saved.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good thinking Bellis. Similar story. One of our friends always brought the matzo ball soup for passover. Beverly's soup was so good, we always wondered what her secret was. You need to know that for Passover there can be no regular flour in anything. Only matzo or matzo flour. Well, one time, Beverly left the leftover soup with us and I noticed an ever-so-small white thing in the soup. It was a little noodle - the kind that is found in Lipton chicken soup. Lipton chicken soup is not at all kosher for Passover and the little wheat noodles make it even worse. So that was Beverly's secret. I don't recall whether I told my mom or not, but if I did, we made an unspoken decision not to tell anyone else why her soup was so good, and a total violation of God's mandate for Passover!

      Delete
    2. And none of you were struck dead by an angry Almighty? I guess He has other things to worry about.

      Delete
    3. Maybe somebody was praying for a touchdown.

      Delete
    4. If everyone used, "Well the chicken is already dead anyway" theory, there would be no vegetarians.

      Delete
    5. Yes, Karin, it would be interesting, at the end, to get a list of all our prayers that were granted or denied and the reasons why. The first few days in Heaven are rather quiet as everyone reads through their printouts.

      Delete
  15. I'm with Mr. Earl. Besides, your friend would do well to lighten up and eat what he likes. That's just my nosohumble opinion but, having that opinion, I wouldn't think twice about not telling him what I believed to be true.

    Please pass the prime rib.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Oh gosh Karin, this made me laugh out loud. Sometimes ignorance truly is bliss, especially if that salad tastes as lovely as he claims it does!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thought-provoking - but I think sometimes it's better to be kind, merciful than bluntly honest (unless the person's life is in immediate danger).

    ReplyDelete
  18. Life in immediate danger: I have a friend who was going to have a heart test where they were going to put something into her artery to see if she had some kind of abnormality. She is very allergic to fish - deathly allergic. The night before her test I was reading online and read that they inject iodine for this test. It was late at night and the test was in the morning. I wondered whether I should mix in. Finally I decided to call and ask whether she was allergic to iodine. She was. I told her not to let them touch her until she spoke to the doctor and made sure everyone understood she was allergic. She said, "I assume they know; it's in my chart." I told her she should not assume that. The next morning she went in for the test and told the nurse that she was allergic to iodine. The nurse went into the hall to talk to the doctor. She could hear that the doctor was very upset. They ended up sending her home to take some steroids before taking the test the following day. If they had injected her with iodine, her heart likely would have stopped and they would not have known why.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Here I thought my piece was a metaphor but turns out to be a PSA in disguise.

    ReplyDelete
  20. That was TRULY immediate danger! Good catch, Mr. Earl!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Oh, the conundrum. I hope not to have to sit on the possibly-tainted knife's edge of such a dilemma. If no life or death situation is involved, I suspect I'd keep it to myself and let him continue to enjoy his salad to infinity and beyond.

    ReplyDelete