One reason that life is so complicated is that not only can lies sometimes sound like the truth but also sometimes the absolute truth can sound like it must be a lie. One example of the latter case was brought home to me because I’m married to an identical twin.
Some years ago, when we were still in the honeymoon phase of our romance, my bride (Carolyn) and I visited her identical twin sister (Marilyn) and her husband in Huntsville, Alabama. Marilyn’s husband was a neurosurgeon and the two of them were well-known leading citizens in the community.
I don’t know what your position is on public displays of affection, but at the time, I was certainly open to them. Thus it was that as we stood waiting in the checkout line at the small Huntsville market closest to my sister-in-law’s house, I took advantage of the opportunity to wrap my arms around Carolyn and hold her tight. When we were second in line, the cashier turned to look at us directly. She narrowed her eyes and tilted her head in what seemed to be a look of surprise and disapproval—and she kept staring at us for an uncomfortably long time. I’d never seen her before and thought she must be a serious hater of PDA to be giving us this persistent stink-eye. I gave her a “What’s your problem, lady?” look in return, but then my wife, who’s always been a lot smarter than I am at analyzing social situations, realized there was more going on here.
One detail I’ve been saving for you is that Carolyn had a cold and had just the day before developed laryngitis, so when she said to the cashier, “You probably think I’m Marilyn,” she said it in a hoarse whisper—(as if she were trying to disguise her voice?) The disapprover slowly nodded her head and drawled, “Mmm hmm.” Carolyn then explained, “I’m not Marilyn; I’m her twin sister Carolyn.”
The cashier nodded and said, “Mmm hmm” again—but her face said, “So that’s the way you’re going to play this, Marilyn. This is such a lowering of you, to be fooling around with this incredibly good-looking, virile young stud behind your husband’s back and then to tell me such an outrageous, bald-faced lie right to my face like I haven’t seen you coming in here with your husband for years. Identical twin? Pleeease! Is that really the best lie you can come up with? And the fake voice? That’s just insulting.”
As you can tell, I’m really good at reading faces.
I don’t really remember what Carolyn croaked at her next, but I do remember the stink-eyed cashier kept looking as skeptical and righteously revolted as ever.
After we left the store, my bride sighed and whispered to me, “I think we just got Marilyn in really big trouble. When we get back, we have a lot of explaining to do.”
Isn’t it funny how sometimes the truth doesn’t do you any good—unless it is believed?