Monday, October 08, 2007

Polite Fictions

I'm going to talk about polite fictions, to no great purpose and with no conclusion in mind; this is a subject I'm interested in as a someone who spends a remarkable amount of time lying, evading and not answering questions[1]. If you're not interested feel free to go and read Stephen Fry's blog; it makes mine, and indeed every other blog on the internet quite superfluous. I'll be here when you get back.

(If you know me and think this post is about you, it probably is; on the other hand if you think it's only about you, you're very wrong).

So we all know that there are times when we have to pretend that certain things haven't happened, or that we don't know something we do, or that we shouldn't give clear and unambiguous answers to certain questions. For example, at work a few years ago, it became obvious to me that one of my co-workers was pregnant. For good reasons pregnancies aren't announced to the world for the first three months so I simply kept my mouth shut and acted all surprised when it was announced (although I'd taken the liberty of coming up with a response wittier than "How did this happen?")

This is somewhat different to the situation where someone is ill, but refuses to draw attention to it. After having to drag someone home and force someone else to go to hospital, I've pretty much given up being polite about this stuff.

Of course this is most interesting when it comes to relationships. When two people are not together, but we all know they are, there's room to have some fun; flirt outrageously (after all they're officially single!), try and set them up on dates, make double-edged jokes, serenade them outside their window at 4 in the morning, leave bad poetry tucked in their underwear draw... ah the list is endless. So much fun.

Anyway my point is this; none of my friends answer my calls anymore and I don't know why. Can anyone help?

[1] In particular as someone who blurted out on Saturday night an unacknowledged and unofficial answer to the question "Are X and Y together?", when the questioner meant "Are X and Y travelling here together?" rather than "Are X and Y an item?"[2]
[2] Not helped by his rephrasing his question with the barely less ambiguous as "I meant 'Is X with Y?'"

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