Telling the whole messy truth
This story is about a divorced man, a sink, a cookie and a few questions.
The first question: “Why is the sink leaking?” That was easy. It was busted.
The second was asked while the sink was being fixed. While installing a new faucet, the man, the plumber, chatted about his life as tradesmen tend to do when they find you in your nightgown with your oatmeal, complaining. The two of you surrounded by the intimacy of leaky water, uncombed hair, and a stench arising from either soggy waste or your bare feet.
I heard about the daughter nearby, the first grandchild, the ex-wife who lived hours away.
Q: So you’re a confirmed bachelor now?
His head bobbed up and down, his arms swept sideways in defeat and he bellowed unequivocally, “Yes.”
Which I thought was a shame. He was cute in that down-to-earth unassuming way that makes you think of work benches, camping, and falling asleep with a beer on the couch. Q: Because ... ? A: Because I can’t get along with anybody. We laughed. He didn’t say his wife was a cheater or no longer the woman he’d loved or they were way too young when they married. None of that.
He told the truth, maybe not
the whole messy truth, but something real. He said if you took a good, hard look at him, below the exterior, you’d see he wasn’t much of a catch.
And I suddenly found him very attractive.
“But you’re so cute,” I said. He blushed.
My husband peeked around the corner to check if I was flirting. I figure if you get to be a certain age, men know you’re joking. My husband disagrees. “Watch it,” he likes to say, “you’re not that old.”
I continued to chat at a nice, safe distance.
Q: So you’re too difficult to live with, set in your ways, can’t compromise?
A: Yeah, I’m all those things. I’m impossible. It’s better to leave me alone.
So he was flawed. So what? Who isn’t? I was charmed that he didn’t make up a story, throw a curve ball, make her the bad guy. And I thought, if plumbers can do it, why not politicians? Why not the rest of us?
I remembered statistics I’ve quoted before. A University of Massachusetts study that showed 60 percent of us tell three lies in every 10-minute conversation. Maybe a hundred or a couple of hundred lies a day — tiny lies, social lies, big lies. I never eat dessert, I love your dress, I feel fine, I did nothing wrong. Protecting ourselves, covering up guilt, puffing ourselves up, exaggerating.
Another British study says men lie twice as much as women, but I’d say it’s more like 10 times as much, and I’m sticking to it.
When Pete the Plumber left, and the kitchen was secured, I drove down to the market for a few items, still thinking about the refreshing nature of things being what they are, instead of a convoluted collection of half-truths and outright delusions. And how attractive that was.
At the market, next to the register, I asked another question.
Q: Where are the molasses cookies that usually sit in the cozy wicker basket?
The basket was empty. I was shown a sign from the baker.
A: I had a problem with the molasses dough today. I’ll try again tomorrow.
Her excuse could have been so much more protective, like my South American molasses connection was detained by terrorists. Or something to divert guilt like, “No molasses cookies today. You don’t need them anyway.”
But there it was, messy again. Messy dough. She had screwed up and she told us. How appealing.
Immediately, I wanted those cookies more than ever. Next time I eat one, maybe I’ll even admit it.