How Not
To Lie
"You can weather anything," Phoebe was telling him, "even if the trust is violated, if it's owned up to. Then you become life partners in a different way; but it's still possible to remain partners. But lying --- lying is cheap, contemptible control over the other person. It's watching the other person acting on incomplete information --- in other words, humiliating herself. Lying is so commonplace and yet, if you're on the receiving end, it's such an astonishing thing. The people you liars are betraying put up with a growing list of insults until you really can't help but to think less of them, can you? I'm sure that liars as skillful and persistent and devious as you reach the point where it's the one you're lying to, and not you, who seems like the one with the serious limitations. You probably don't even think you're lying --- you think of it as an act of kindness to spare the feelings of your poor sexless mate. You probably think your lying is in the nature of a virtue, an act of generosity toward the dumb cluck who loves you. Or maybe it's just what it is --- a fucking lie, one fucking lie after another. Oh, why go on --- all these episodes are so well known, " she said. "The man loses the passion for the marriage and he cannot live without. The wife is pragmatic. The wife is realistic. Yes, passion is gone, she's older and not what she was, but to her it's enough to have the physical affection, just being there with him in the bed, she holding him, he holding her. The physical affection, the tenderness, the camaraderie, the closeness ... But he cannot accept that. Because he is a man who cannot live without. Well, you're going to live without now, mister. You're going to live without plenty. You're going to find out what living without is all about! Oh, go away from me, please. I can't bear the role you've reduced me to. The pitiful middle-aged wife, embittered by rejection, consumed by rotten jealousy! Raging! Repugnant! Oh, I hate you for that more than anything. Go away, leave this house. I can't bear the sight of you with that satyr-on-his-good-behavior look on your face! You'll get no absolution from me --- never! I will not be trifled with any longer! Go, please! Leave me alone!"

"Phoebe ---"

"No! Don't you dare call me by my name!"

--- From Everyman
Philip Roth
©2006, Houghton Mifflin Co.

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