March 29, 2021 – Little White Lies

My husband surprised me today! No, it’s not what you’re thinking. Get your mind out of the gutter! He surprised me because he told a ‘little white lie’ to the neighbor and it’s eating him up inside! My husband NEVER lies. He is all about honesty and integrity and speaking the truth. It’s what he built his career in the military on, and one of the reasons he was so well respected. I feel bad for him because I know how much it’s bothering him. Why? Because I’ve done it myself. All the times that I have told a lie throughout my life, I remember each and every one. I have forgotten so many of the things that have taken place during my lifetime, but the lies remain. No matter how much I try to justify them, they refuse to yield. They stay stuck in my brain like small, festering pockets of shame. Fortunately, there are not many; however, if I take the time to focus on them too much, it can take me down a very dark path.

So, so dark! I’ve had one that’s haunted me since 1986! If lies could be contained, they wouldn’t be such a big deal. That’s not how lies tend to work though. Just like when my dog buried that dead squirrel under a pile of rocks in our backyard a couple of weeks ago, even though it was covered and initially undetectable, eventually it started to rot and stink (making its presence undeniable). Lies tend to work much the same way. You can try and cover them up, but they’ll make themselves known, one way or the other. What was the lie that my husband told? Let me back up to yesterday. Actually, let me back up about a year and a half. In October of 2019, I had my transplant surgery. Around that time, our side neighbors (a husband and wife) moved out of the home they were renting and the wife’s aunt and uncle moved in. We got along great with the husband and wife, but when her relatives moved in, it was another story.

The aunt rarely went outside, I hardly ever saw her. From what I could tell, she seemed nice enough. There didn’t seem to be an issue between us (that I was aware of). But the uncle? He spent a lot of time outside. He would either be out front, out back, or in the garage (with the door wide open). Each time I would encounter him, he wouldn’t say a word, he’d just stand with his arms crossed and scowl at me. It was the weirdest thing because I never said or did anything ‘bad’ or inappropriate to him. I’ve discussed how much the ‘new’ side neighbor’s behavior bothers me with my husband and his advice was to, “Kill him with kindness!” After our talk, I have made a point to gleefully greet him whenever I walk past his home (while walking the dog). “Hello!” I call out loudly each time I walk by, to which he responds by turning his back to me (without saying a word) and walking into his garage. Does it bother me? Yes!! It bothers me!!!

Alright, so with all that in mind, let’s fast forward to yesterday. Yesterday morning, Mr. Personality (that’s what we’ve been calling him because of his unpleasant attitude) decided to burn yard waste in his backyard. His backyard butts up to our property. He burnt yard waste the entire day, creating a whole lot of smoke in the neighborhood. If he lived out in the country, it’d be one thing. He doesn’t. He lives within the city limits along with the rest of us city dwellers, and in the city, burning yard waste is prohibited. For some reason, it really was bothering my husband. Normally, that sort of activity doesn’t get him all worked up, he usually just blows it off. This time, he asked my opinion about whether or not he should report the guy to the City for the illegal fire; it hadn’t been the first time he’d done it. I hesitated, and then I said, “Maybe just let it be this time. Do we really want to start turning in the neighbors? It could backfire.”

We haven’t always done things that were necessarily ‘legal’ or approved by the City, and I didn’t want to get a ‘tit for tat’ thing started in the neighborhood. My husband seemed to let it go once we talked and after taking a seat on the couch, he settled down and wound up falling asleep. After he woke up, I opened my big mouth and said, “He’s still at it.” Smoke was billowing into our backyard and had been for several hours. I wish I hadn’t said anything because my husband got fired up again, it was almost instantaneous. He practically leapt off the couch and went straight into our office, whereby, he called the City and anonymously reported our neighbor. We didn’t think much would come of it, maybe a warning not to do it again. That’s really all we wanted. And to our relief, that’s exactly what happened. In fact, the guy’s son is one of the local firefighters and it was his friend (also a firefighter) that stopped by and ‘educated’ Mr. Personality about what is and isn’t allowed within the city limits.

How do we happen to know so many details about what took place after my husband made the call? Oh, the irony of it all! While my husband was out in the yard this afternoon, preparing to dispose of the dead squirrel, he noticed Mr. Personality trying (with great difficulty) to move a large dog house in his own yard. When my husband saw what was going on, he called out, “Hey! Could you use some help? It looks like you’re having a bit of trouble. I could give you a hand.” “No, I’ve got it,” the neighbor replied, and went about his business. Surprisingly, once he succeeded in moving the dog house, he walked over to the fence and started talking to my husband. What’s the first thing he said? “Hey, someone reported me yesterday for having an illegal fire in my backyard. Was the smoke bothering you?” How did my husband respond? “Nope, not at all!” Yep, he totally lied through his teeth. On a scale of 1-10, that lie was around a one or two. It was so minor, it was barely perceptible.

The thing is, because my husband didn’t ‘own up’ to what he did (which I don’t blame him for), the neighbor started speculating. “I bet it was the lady on the corner that reported me. She’s always calling the City,” he said. Uh-oh! Although that is often the case (9 times out of 10), she wasn’t actually responsible this time. Of course, only ‘we’ know this because only ‘we’ know who actually did call the City, and it definitely was not the neighbor lady on the corner. Has she called the City multiple times on the hoarder guy that lived on the opposing corner, enough to drive him away? Yes, she has. She has proudly admitted it to me. Has she called the City on her next door neighbor for not taking proper care of her yard? Yes, she has reported her as well. Has she called the City on people who unlawfully park tractor-trailers alongside the canal? Yes, indeed! I’m pretty sure she’s got the number to the City on speed-dial, she calls it so often.

Whenever I walk by her house, I hold my breath and hope she’s not out working in her yard, because if she is, I always get an earful. She knows everybody’s business, hence the nickname ‘Mrs. Kravitz’. Despite the fact that she’s a busybody, we like her. She’s never done anything to us to create hard feelings (aside from telling my husband that he needed to trim the hedges when we first moved in). And even though she usually is responsible for ‘making the call’, she wasn’t this time. That appears to be what’s bothering my husband the most. It’s not the lie itself, it’s what has resulted. The ‘blame’ is being placed on an innocent person. The guy that had the illegal fire got a warning. Great! That’s all we wanted, nothing more. Now he knows not to do it again. However, our neighbor (Mrs. Kravitz) is currently being held in ill-regard by him as a result of the ‘little white lie’. There’s more to the story, which makes it even more ironic.

As it turns out, my husband and Mr. Personality have all sorts of things in common! After my husband denied his role in calling the City and feigned ignorance, they really got to talking. Apparently, they were both career Air Force, and they both own Harleys and love to fish and ride bicycles and much, much more. After talking with him at length, my husband appears to have grown quite fond of the guy. “But he’s still an *sshole to me!” I insisted. “Maybe the fact that he and I finally got a chance to talk will help change that,” he replied. I don’t know. We’ll see. I like to live peaceably among those around me. Maybe he’ll come around. If he does, that would be ideal. My husband still feels bad about being dishonest but he said the way he’s going to go about ‘righting the wrong’ is by being exceptionally kind and helpful, a sort of penance. He told the neighbor to let him know if he could ever use any help. I’m not sure whether my husband’s going to do anything about Mrs. Kravitz.

To his credit, when the neighbor made the accusations (about her possible role in calling the City), he refuted them and spoke highly of her. “She’s always been kind to me,” he said. Hopefully, Mr. Personality won’t hold a grudge and everyone can go on with their lives. I’m just so glad I didn’t get tangled up in the mess. I’m also glad the ‘little white lie’ didn’t go totally off the rails, because they often do. They can take on a life all their own and do some serious damage! Trust me, I know. If you want my hard-earned advice, don’t lie. It’s best to speak the truth and live with the consequences. The truth doesn’t eventually ‘rot and stink’ like lies (and dead squirrels) tend to do. Thanks so much for stopping by! I’m no poet laureate, but I love to write and I enjoy the opportunity to share stories about my life and family or to just make simple random observations. If all goes well and I haven’t run you off, I trust you will return tomorrow as will I.

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