Hoover, what do you know about Honest Abe?
I mean, he’s never gonna be your favorite president, OBVIOUSLY, because you kind of got stuck with having to claim Herbert Hoover as your favorite president from before you were born. To be honest, I can’t tell you much about Herbert Hoover. The only time I remember taking US History, it was taught to me by a football coach who assured us that if George Washington played the game he’d have been a great QB (I’m sure we’ve talked about this favorite formative memory of mine), so I guess what I’m saying is that no one’s ever expected much from me on the US history front. Or the world history front, really. Had a coach for that one too. We watched Divorce Court a lot in class, then sometimes at 11 I’d have him turn on Jeopardy (you know how good I am at getting people to do what I want), but class ended at like, 11:20 or something, so it was always before the final answer. Ugh, you know?
Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. Presidents. Honest Abe. Luckily the reason I brought up him up is right there in his name, so I don’t need to have a real wealth of presidential knowledge to get this going.
So: word is he was pretty honest. And people seem to like that about him. Today I’m here to encourage you to get into the honesty game because I want people to like you too.
I’d say I know a fair amount of at least somewhat dishonest folk, but I like to believe that that’s just because I have bad taste in people and not because I’ve chosen a profession where connivers thrive. (This is called lying to yourself, Puffbutt — we’ll talk some other time.) Now, look, I’m happy to report that this advice is not coming to you off of some specific incident, but more of an extended period of mulling over the pros of having an honest disposition. And now I offer you five good reasons why you should aspire to earn the moniker Honest Hoover from your pals around the playgroup (other than that being like a super rad cool-sounding nickname to have, obvi).
1. People don’t trust liars.
Duh, right? Once people catch you being dishonest, their opinion of you changes. Sure, you can still be close, but there’ll always be a piece of them — even if it’s small — that doesn’t entirely trust you. When I know someone is distorting the truth to me, I don’t call them out on it (because confrontation, ick) but I file it away in my mental vault and I know to be a little wary about certain areas with them in the future. It’s a bummer that some of my favorite people have a mental sticky note attached to them, and since you’re my MOST favorite person, I don’t want you to become one of them.
Sometimes, Hooves, it is very hard to tell the truth. Either because you know the other person doesn’t want to hear what you have to say, or you really don’t want to say what you have to say. Do it anyway. People respect integrity. It’s weird that people respect it so much but are often so lax about it, but truly, you never hear someone say with disdain in their voice, “Ugh, he’s so honest, I can’t stand that in a person.” At least, like, not people who are mentally well-balanced and socially well-adjusted and stuff. Also, as important, you’ll have self-respect if you can give an honest answer in a time when it would be easier to lie. Character-building stuff, kiddo, I’m telling ya. Added bonus — there’s nothing better than getting to have smug points that you don’t do something unlikeable that other people you know do.
3. Tangles, man.
I know you’re behind on any literature that doesn’t come in board book form:
But one day you’ll hear of Sir Walter Scott and his famous line, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” Lies can get you in deep, bro. You tell one, you gotta tell another to cover up that one, things escalate, your life gets complicated, next thing you know you’re considering upping your fake boyfriend to fake fiancee and wondering how big of a proposal story you need to come up with to make the whole thing buyable and explain why you don’t have a ring. (Look, this only happened to me once, but the guy who would not leave me alone eventually moved on and I got to go back to being relaxingly single both in real life and my imagination.) This was a relatively harmless (although kind of stressful to me at the time) version of what I’m talking about, but imagine how messy things get when people not only lie upon lies, but then have to get other people involved to try to corroborate their lies? Whole political administrations have been brought down because of these things, baby boy! (I couldn’t tell you any specifically, because you know my thing with history — but I’m sure it’s happened.) Woof, Hoover. No gracias, not for us.
4. Checks and balances.
This one’s easy. Wanting to be an honest person can become a great “check yourself before you wreck yourself” system. When you find yourself on the precipice of doing something that you know you’re going to have to lie about later, RED ALERT, DUDE. You probably shouldn’t be doing it. If more people considered this before they engaged in shady activity, my oh my what a different world we’d live in.
Obviously, this one’s the most important. Your nose is really cute the way it is, and I know you haven’t seen Pinocchio yet, but word from that movie is that lying makes your schnoz grow straight out of your face. Even though I’m not a doctor, I’d say that PROBABLY that’s not really going to happen — but you never know, you know? And are you really willing to risk messing up this delightfully well-proportioned visage?
I didn’t think so.
Now, before I send you off into your world of soft pants and indeterminate sticky things on your hands, I want to clarify that we’re not talking about white lies here. Like if you get a bad haircut and you know it and we know it, but we tell you it looks great to make you feel better about yourself, that’s just being a kind soul. Some people would disagree with me on that and believe in brutal honesty — but I’m a softy who has a hard time with “brutal” anything. However, if you decide when you grow up that you want to be a brutally honest fellow, I’ll respect that and just make sure I never ask you any questions that I don’t want the answers to. Deal?
Now go be a rampant truth-teller, little man. And say hi to the ‘rents for me, would you?