Thursday, October 07, 2004

the lying king

I was thinking one of the reasons the Howard-lying thing doesn't seem to have cut through in this election campaign is because we're a nation of liars, as a recent study showed (again, sorry I can't find the link--a blogger sin, I know). We don't think lying is such a big deal, and we think it goes with the territory of politics anyway.
I should point out the following is a bit long-winded in case you're in a hurry. I was thinking about how we lie daily for social reasons. I was thinking about it in relation to one set of neighbors in particular, with whom things have become quite frosty lately.
The other day, just after I'd put Harley down for a morning nap, the neighbor started sweeping his drive which is right next to the baby's bedroom. Harley can sleep through pretty much any loud noise except very sudden, raspy, nails-down-a-blackboard kinds of sounds. So it was keeping him from sleeping, and eventually I went outside and approached my neighbor.
At that moment a middle-aged woman had to walk by with her dog and she paused to greet my neighbor. They left me standing there in half my pyjamas, sunglasses, a straw cowboy hat and purple rubber gloves (I was in the middle of cleaning), while they exchanged pleasantries for a couple of minutes. She finally moved on, smiling a vaguely condescending smile at me as she passed (though that's probably just paranoia), and I finally asked my neighbor if he wouldn't mind sweeping later as the baby was trying to sleep.
There was a pause so protracted I felt like saying "what?", and my neighbor stood leaning on his broom with a look on his face as if I'd asked him for a loan or perhaps to donate a kidney, before he finally said "O-kay", in exactly the same tone a teenager uses to say "whatever". I think he would've liked to have said "whatever" but I probably would've started laughing if he did.
I went inside and thought how social psychology favored me in this situation, because even though he really wanted to say, "You want ME to be quiet, when you won't even do quilting with my wife and you haven't been around to ask her to tea and show her the baby in months and you keep to yourself and huh, don't think we don't see the kind of folk you entertain--", even though these resentments were written all over his face, all he was allowed to do was politely acquiesce. Anything else would have caused awkwardness, socially speaking.
Unfortunately, social psychology also meant that five minutes later, my neighbor got his revenge: he simply started doing something in his garage that evidently required a lot of banging and crashing.
Oh well, I thought. If the baby cries, you have to listen to it too, pal...though actually Harley rarely cries, he just grizzles away, and he was so tired he managed to fall asleep oblivious to all the petty drama going on.
Later I sat outside with my houseguests and said in a voice loud enough to carry over to my neighbors, who were sitting on their deck having tea, resolutely not looking in our direction, "for me this place isn't even isolated enough." I said I would most love to be on a bush block with no neighbors for miles. Somewhere I could walk around in a bikini and gumboots and play music as loud as I like outside and not have the neighbors poking their head over my fence all the time to see what I'm up to. One day, hopefully.