The other day I walked around with barbecue sauce on my face after an awesome meal for a good five hours. No one had the heart to tell me I was covered in “Sweet ‘n’ Smoky.”
It’s times like these that you need a brutally honest person.
Take my brother Brennan, for example. He would’ve told me, “Hey, you look like a baby who is just learning how to use a spoon. Did any food get into your mouth, or did it all end up on your face? Wear a bib next time.”
My mom is also really blunt, and bless her for it. When I bring a girl home to meet the parents my mom won’t hesitate to tell me what she thought of her. She says stuff like, “She’s a spoiled brat,” or “High maintenance! Does she know you’re majoring in social work?” or "She has freaky nostrils. Don't they frighten you? They frighten me." She’s not mean about it at all, just matter-of-fact.
She’s also not shy about saying positive things either, like, “Wow. I didn’t expect you to show up with a girl that pretty,” or “What does she see in you?”
I think the older you get, the less you care about what people think. Really, who is left to impress? Thus, the older you are, the more able you are to speak your mind.
In my mom’s case I don’t think she started out so straightforward, she just learned to not waste time and to just blurt out whatever was on her mind.
That’s why really old people often get accused of being crotchety and mean, but really they just have something that needs to be said and they know that they are running out of time to say it. And they have faulty memories, so if they don’t say it quick, they might forget it.
That’s not to say my mom is old, she’s not even 50 yet, so statistically she has over 30 more years to be candid. And frankly, I think my mom is just too ornery to die. Plus, having eight kids and living with my dad have made her so tough I think she might possibly go on living forever.
Anyway, don’t get the idea that honest people are mean or rude, because they aren’t. Basically, when you’re honest and sincere, who needs tact? Wouldn’t it be great if someone was talking your ear off and you could just come right out and say, “Hey, I appreciate you and all your vast amounts of awesome knowledge on everything ever, but right now I would be thrilled to death if you would just stop talking. No offense. You’re just making my ears bleed.”
Or, if someone had really bad breath (like locker room mixed with burning hair mixed with onions, for example) and they were talking really close to your face, you could totally exclaim, “I love you man, but if you don’t buy a toothbrush and start using it stat I am probably going to die.”
If I were doing those things, I would want someone to tell me. Wouldn’t you? It's not easy to hear, but no one wants to be that guy.
In a breakup situation, honesty would be great because you don't have to say any of the nonsensical niceties like, "It's not you, it's me." Instead you get to say, "Hey, clearly we make each other miserable so we should break up," or "Clearly you make me miserable so we should break up." You could even say, "Think of this as the divorce that we would eventually be getting if we continued this relationship."
Being honest just saves everyone’s time. If I could have all the time back that I’ve wasted mincing words in my life, I'd probably be able to build a house, write a book and burn some stuff with a magnifying glass and still have time left over.
It’s not easy being an honest person, and they are often unpopular. They're like the mirror you pass when you're getting out of the shower, they can seem cruel as they show you sides of yourself you don’t want to see. Let's face it: nobody likes to hear the truth.
Unless they're walking around covered in barbecue sauce. Then you have to tell them.