A few days ago, a friend stopped by to show me her new haircut. We’ve been close friends since high school, and one of her most enviable features has always been her hair. Glorious, thick, shiny, and down to her waist. Men have always wanted to touch it, and women have always wanted to have it.
Her husband (or as she refers to him, The Douche) has always been stubbornly opposed to her cutting off even an inch. Now they’re getting a divorce, and apparently she decided to cross “Extreme Pixie Cut” off her Bucket List.
Standing my front door with a freshly shorn head and a huge smile, she asked “So what do you think??” OMG. She looked like a hoot owl. She looked, well, bald. But in that instant, since the hair was gone and it would take months to grow back, I did the only thing a true friend could do. I lied.
“It’s fabulous,” I replied.
Let’s face it. Little white lies are the foundation of a BFF relationship. We go to a best friend for reassurance and validation, not brutal honesty. At the end of the day, time spent with a BFF should leave us feeling better about ourselves, more confident. “Yes, you are looking a little porky these days,” “Your husband is a jackass and has slept with your entire book club,” or “Your kid is a total loser and his future life partner will most likely be Bubba from Cell Block D” will not get us there. We trust our BFFs to tell us what we want to hear, even when we both know she’s lying. If we wanted complete candor, we’d ask our mothers or our ex-husbands.
Working primarily with women for so many years, I’ve overheard dozens of little white lies in conversations between girlfriends over bathroom stalls, in dressing rooms, and at sales counters. Here are a few of the most common ones, told by women who chose friendship over “total honesty.” God bless them.
1. Happy birthday. You don’t look 50 at all. Yeah, actually you do. I told you 20 years ago to knock off that tanning bed crap.
2. Yes, I’d love to be a bridesmaid in your wedding! Yeah, thanks. I can’t wait to pay $300 for a chartreuse prom dress, while being escorted down the aisle by your horny brother-in-law-to-be Billy Bob, with the unfortunate excessive sweating issues.
3. No, I could never be mad at you. I’m ripping pissed and really just want you to get the hell off my porch. I’ll call you later. And leave the wine.
4. Of course you can date my ex. But now I’ll have to kill you both.
5. You can absolutely pull off that velveteen leopard print miniskirt at 60. You go, girl! OMG, I thought we agreed that you’d stop shopping at Forever 21. Wait here while I find you a long black sweater.
6. Don’t worry about it. Nobody even noticed. Are you kidding me? I heard the video has gone viral. You might want to consider a vacation. Preferably to someplace that doesn’t have Facebook.
7. It’s so great that you and your man still have torrid sex every night. We’re lucky our sex lives are still so hot. Yeah, and the last time we had any at our house, people began website addresses with “World Wide Web.” I’m jealous, but I’ll never admit it.
8. Sure I’ll babysit your new man’s kids so you two can have a date night. They’re just adorable. I can’t stand the entitled tweener tyrants. But I can’t say that, because it makes me sound like a bitch who hates children.
9. You’ve gained weight? It hardly shows. But if one of those buttons pops, it’ll fly with enough force to take out someone’s eye. Let’s go buy you the next size up. We can cut the size labels out and blame China.
10. Everyone agrees. The divorce wasn’t your fault. It’s true, you did sleep with his brother. For six years. Actually, everyone just thinks you’re a tramp. But you’ll never hear it from me.
11. No, I don’t think you drink too much. Not if you’re preparing for the Olympic Alcohol Team, in which case, you’re a shoe-in. Go USA.
12. If I had your body, I’d wear that outfit too. There are no circumstances on the planet under which you would find me in that get-up. Ever. But since you never laughed, not even once, during my poncho phase, I’m giving you this one.
13. He’s not worth it. He’s fabulous and if I wouldn’t go to hell for breaking the Golden Rule of Friendship, I’d be all over him like a wet t-shirt.
14. Your stroganoff is just yummy. I’d love the recipe. What the hell did you put in this?? Maybe I’ll just say I had a late lunch. This is going to take more wine. A lot more.
15. Of course I won’t repeat that story about Susie’s husband Bob and little Sally’s kindergarten teacher. Bahahahaha. This is just too good not to share. But I promise not to mention your name, okay?
16. Your ex’s new girlfriend is really not that hot. Actually, she’s gorgeous, smart, and I heard she volunteers at the Food Bank every Saturday. But I’m sure she’s got cellulite all over her ass.
17. You look fine. Actually, you look hungover and exhausted. But we’re running late, so grab your makeup kit and a hairbrush, and I’ll fix you in the car.
18. You’re nothing like your mother. You’re exactly like the old she-bat when you get pissed. Which is why I’ll never say that to your face.
19. No, you’re not crazy. I would have done the same thing. No, I would not have stalked my ex’s new girlfriend and broken into her house to see if his clothes were there. But my lips are sealed.
And so we thank God for the little white lie and we remain friends to this day. Sometimes total honesty, however hurtful, is appropriate or necessary. But more often, kindness will do just fine.