I stand by my position on lies of omission: they are harmless smudges on the surface of human relationships. Those other lies, the “real” ones that require premeditation and oratory skills gouge relationships. Real lies require repair and healing; lies of omission require nothing more than a clean rag and a modicum of elbow grease.
This was exactly what I was telling myself in my serious Morgan Freeman voice as my husband-to-be Jeff had me cornered on the leather couch in his bachelor pad. It wasn’t like I planned to lie to him. He knew I had a boyfriend who was older.
For the record, I never uttered a lie that night.
But my every muscle tensed when Jeff turned off the lights and flipped a switch that made a gigantic movie screen descend from the ceiling of his loft apartment. As the screen settled against the exposed brick wall, I stared at its whiteness wondering what kind of girl he thought I was.
That night was supposed to be about going to the opera– Turandot was Jeff’s favorite so he bought 4 tickets months before. He kindly invited me, along with two other people, to join him. Frankly, I hadn’t pictured myself having to talk to him at all. I planned to enjoy a free ticket to the opera and then go home to call my boyfriend to say goodnight. When I accepted Jeff’s invitation two weeks before, I mentioned I didn’t know anything about Turandot.
I heard Jeff’s voice behind me as he worked a remote control that made a picture of Puccini, the composer of Turandot, appear on the screen. What the hell is this? I wondered.
“I made a PowerPoint presentation about the opera when you said you didn’t know anything about Turandot,” Jeff explained. He walked me through the slides, which were designed to serve as a Cliff’s Notes about Puccini’s life and times.
I oohed and ahhed over the slides and genuinely marveled at the passion that Jeff put into them. I said I couldn’t believe that he worked so hard and asked where he found the time.
What I didn’t tell him is that my boyfriend had taken me to see the exact same production of Turandot the night before. I didn’t betray that I already knew the plot. I didn’t show Jeff the crumpled Playbill and ripped ticket stub shoved in the bottom of my purse.
I never considered telling him that I knew more than a little about his favorite opera. Honestly, I never thought it would come up again. I sat there dumbly, soaking up his presentation, pretending everything out of his mouth was news to me.
But, when my boyfriend dumped me, I kept thinking about Jeff and that quirky Puccini PowerPoint. When we started dating, the little secret– that I ended up seeing the opera before he did– haunted me.
Oooohhh EEEEeee, the look on his face when I told him on our third date. In my breeziest voice, I said, “Hey. You know what? I actually saw that opera before I went with you?”
Silence. Oh, the silence deafened me. Jeff’s not a blusher, but if he was, he’d have been crimson. He took it like the confident INTJ (Myers Briggs profile) that he is.
But we still speak of it all the time. Partly because my darling little lies of omission get me in a wee bit of trouble
every f*ing day now and then.
I stand by my choices, though. I couldn’t have told him as he stood before that PowerPoint, could I? I mean, that would have been cruel. It was way better to tell him after our first kiss, when the blow was softened by my feminine wiles, right?
Take our poll and vote for the moment you think I should have told Jeff I had seen the opera the night before: