This column is a reprint from the Bena Mae archives.
From the movie A Few Good Men, Jack Nicholson’s rant from the witness stand, “The truth? You can’t handle the truth!” was voted the twenty-ninth greatest American movie quote of all time and is near the top of the poll of one of the most memorable quotes in filmdom. It has become a part of our vocabulary and is quoted often. And it begs the question, Can we handle the truth?
Consider this scenario:
Say for one 24 hour period, the whole world, from Argentina to Uzbekistan and all countries in between, everyone tells the unfiltered, unvarnished truth. No exceptions. No white lies, no dodges, the truth and nothing but.
We have become so accustomed to the blurring of truth with lies that we no are no longer able to tell one from the other. We are so comfortable in our own little comfort zone of believing whatever we hear, that we no longer check the facts. They make us uneasy, shake us up and we don’t want to rattle the status quo. But think about it. What if the premise I just laid out really happened? Can we really handle the truth?
Would empires fail if the curtain were pulled back on the deceit they harbor against their own citizens? Would they pass the 99 and 44/100 percent clean test?
Would the U.S Congress implode at the thought of revealing the underhanded machinations and loopholes that have become common practice in their august body? Would they vote down a bill that is necessary for helping their community in lieu of saving their own job? Can they pass a mirror without looking the other way?
Would companies that advertise “Going Out of Business” sales really “go out of business?”
Would “bait and switch” scams advertise the original price of an item?
I admit I have lied in my lifetime. Everybody has. And if you deny it, God knows your name and He knows where you live.
But mine were not vicious lies. And most of them were told as a way of getting out of the house when I was a teenager. My parents were very strict. They kept a tight lid on where I was going, with whom, and what time I should be home.
Most of my social activities were either school or church related and that was okay with them. But one night I told my mother that I was going to a church function when in actuality, I was meeting my friends at the drug store where we were just going to hang out. We were all well behaved and never got into any kind of trouble. But this turned out to be a night when my lie cost me big time.
As I approached the drug store booth, I slipped in a puddle of water and my feet flew out from under me. My bottom hit the marble floor with such a bang that I thought my tail bone was broken. My friends took me home and we explained to my mother that I had fallen on the church steps.
I was laid up for a week, so sore that I couldn’t move a muscle. I hurt bad. Even a flick of my eyelids sent me into spasms of pain. In time I recuperated with no permanent damage. Forty-five years later, I told my mother the truth.
The moral of this story is that I only hurt myself with my big lie. But sometimes lies hurt other people. And there’s where the harm lies. Many times there are consequences to pay, but often, so is the truth..
Pity the poor man who was last seen soaring over Indianapolis, Ind. looking for a place to land. Earlier, when asked by his wife if her dress made her look fat, he answered in the affirmative.
Broccoli Cheese Soup
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups chicken stock or bouillon
1/2 pound fresh broccoli
1 cup carrots, julienned
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
Saute onion in butter. Set aside.
Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes.
Stir constantly and slowly add the half-and-half (this is called making a roux).
Add the chicken stock whisking all the time. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the broccoli, carrots and onions.
Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender for 20-25 minutes.
Add salt and pepper.
The soup should be thickened by now.
Pour in batches into blender and puree.
Return to pot over low heat and add the grated cheese; stir until well blended.
Stir in the nutmeg and serve.