A few years ago someone I knew died. I went to the funeral service, saw his son his widow noted their grief, saw the unconvincing displays of those few over enthusiastic mourners that are present at most well attended funerals, puzzled at the unspoken animosity that saw his widow exclude his terminally ill mother from the chief mourners and delivered my softly spoken platitudes. I tried hard not to appear too sincere, I hated the man, not an unreasonable hatred either, he was totally despicable. His other 'son' -- adopted when he married his wife, delivered a genuinely tearful eulogy that would have moved me had it been for a worthy man, instead it made want to laugh. Today I think I would laugh, if I were to attend the funeral at all. My hypocrisy at the time was motivated by concerns that no longer apply, the person who's feelings I cared for died a year or so later.
I have occasionally encountered his widow even though I avoid her, but I haven't done so for a while, I think the avoidance has become mutual. Which I'm glad about because, I don't have any affection for either her or her family. I don't like expressing my hatred to those it's directed at, I'm one of those people who're scrupulously polite to people they hate and quarrelsome with those they have affection for. I'm sure some would see that has hypocrisy too but I'm not attempting to deceive, it's just the way I deal with things. This way of expressing hostility does have implications for intimate relationships, women most often mistake a taciturn demeanour for gullibility. It's quite astonishing how, emboldened by this error, their deceit will descend to a level of credulity that would trouble a toddler, It's probably obvious by now that I'm single. Don't get me wrong there, I'm not a crazy misogynist who spurns women as perfidious harpies, I'm just realistic enough to understand that people lie -- quite a lot it seems and that, being male, intimate relations tend to centre around women. I think respect is more important for women where intimacy is concerned, if they think you're gullible respect is impossible and once it's gone there's no motive to temper deceit with any credibility. That's how relationships end, a spiral of mutual disdain, she despises me for my gullibility, I despise her as a hypocrite and liar.
My aversion to hypocricy probably stems from personal history, from an early age, people close to me have liberally exercised their deceit around me. I'm not blameless either, I acquiesced to their lies for my own personal convenience even though I justify it as concern for those I cared for. One regret I have is that I did not express my hatred for one individual more honestly, not with words mind you, with actions. I should have slit his throat while he sat eating supper at the table, now that would have been a good funeral but I think would have been unable to attend, being unavoidably detained elsewhere. Strangely my other chief regret concerns my reluctance to embrace hypocrisy rather than the regret of not expressing myself with honest vigour.
The conversation began innocuously enough even if the question was somewhat incongruous, "What's your religion?" Mina asked me.
"Roman Catholic," I replied, "what about you?"
"What -- you're a terrorist?" I asked with a feigned ignorance, this was years before 9/11 so although it was still mischievous it was not quite as fatal as would be today.
"No, we're not all the same," Mina's reply left me with my jaw on the floor, I half expected her to burst into tearful indignation. Instead she didn't bat an eye, just replied with the same tone she'd started the conversation, that impressed me. I continued to feign ignorance and Mina patiently proceeded to needlessly enlighten me. Something about the way she spoke and held my attention destroyed the irreverence I'd expressed earlier and I started to feel justifiably ashamed. That shame probably explains the diligence with which I answered her next questions, "Would you convert?"
"Er wha... er no, I don't think I would," If her first question had been incongruous then second was like a train crashing through the wall of building fifty miles from the nearest railway.
She acknowledged my answer with an impassive nod then asked, "Could you tell me why you wouldn't consider converting?"
At first I tried to use the historical reason, you know, the reason why they'd been killing each other across the water, which, to her credit, she seemed to have a good grasp of. She wasn't convinced though, neither was I, so I continued with the real reason. "Conviction," I said, "I don't believe in it, the bible, I think it's rubbish..." I tried my best to explain the significance of religion, how it's a badge for most people and while I'll submit to a label I was born with, I couldn't convert to anything because it would be the rankest hypocrisy.
"Yes, I understand," she nodded and the conversation ended.
I'm a bit thick I suppose and the significance of the conversation was lost on me, it wasn't until a friend who'd witnessed some of it came to me later and offered some clues to what had just gone on. Even then he was a bit vague so it didn't really sink in till some time later.
The worse kind of regret is the kind you feel for something you did or didn't do in the past but know that today, even with all the knowledge you've acquired since, you know you'd do the same thing. It's that way for me with Mina incident, she's the only girl I think of at night when I'm alone all these years later, yet I still wouldn't do the lie for her.