Eric is a fan of speaking plainly. Always has been. And it gets him into strife. If asked a direct question, he is compelled to respond directly. Not for him the side-step of the considerate. Not for him a retreat into meaningless rhetoric. A spade is a spade to Eric, and is called such.
Eric’s father had been a public-servant, a term Eric always found difficult to swallow, the ubiquitous contradiction in terms. It stood to reason that Eric’s father, Roger, neither served the public, nor spoke plainly. In his over reaction to this, Eric has taken his speaking plainly to an excruciating level.
Plain-speaking and speaking plainly are two totally different creatures. One has a hyphen, for starters. Plain-speaking is begot from Plain English, so embraced by insurance companies, in an endeavour to suck the unwary in even further. Take the definition of flooding: is it riparian; is it inundated; is it storm run-off; or, is it flash. Nowadays most insurance policies are written in Plain-English which, on the surface is able to be understood by the ubiquitous man-in-the-street. However, although the legal jargon has been decreased, the hair-splitting has been increased, at the expense of both meaning and clarity.
The one thing that speaking plainly is, is clear.
Speaking plainly is emotive, it is bare, and it can wound. It delves into the surface of a life, paring back each successive layer in an attempt at brutal honesty. The white lie is anathema to those who are adherents of speaking plainly. A white lie is meant as a tender let-down; less than the whole truth. One can only assume that a white lie is so named to distinguish it from a black lie, which is, thereby, the antithesis of the truth.
Eric could not abide any form of lying, regardless of colour. His speech eschewed all form of adornment. It was plain in the extreme. Take the situation Eric found himself in at the Bar Rosa just before Christmas, during his company’s end-of-year celebration. Eric was introduced to the incoming company accountant, who was hired on merit. Candace was the best candidate for the job, with outstanding qualifications and highly relevant experience.
However, her taste in clothing left a lot to be desired. It did for Eric, who was a fan of the well-dressed and the fashion conscious. Eric preferred an ornateness in clothing that screamed at him in language. Things were going along splendidly for Eric, with his view of reality not diverging from the reality that confronted him, meaning that he did not have to comment upon Candace’s appearance, so sleeping dogs were left lie - until Howard came into the picture. And, as was his want, Howard knew exactly how to skewer Eric.
‘Candace’s outfit is charmingly avant-garde, don’t you agree, Eric?’
And the poor man was hoist. To Eric, Candace’s outfit was neither charming nor avant-garde, and his immediate inclination was to say so. Not for him the get out of gaol card, ‘It suits her very well’. This did not respond to the question, it was a non-sequitur.
Eric spoke plainly.