(“Scandalmongers” in the book “It’s a fine world”)
Scandal at its finest is the truth that we tell behind a man’s back because it would be unkind to tell it to his face. It is truth in its humanest form. I have many friends who would be deeply pained if I told them everything I think and know about them. I have many friends who would pain me deeply if they told me everything they think and know about me. Hence, when we are together, we leave many things unsaid at the back of our minds. This silent criticism does not mean that we are not sincerely devoted to each other. We like people none the less because we think things about them that we should never think of telling them we think. There are friendships of such perfect intimacy that there is no need of concealment on either side, but they are rare. As a general rule when you see two friends together, you see two hypocrites, each of them a little less critical of the other in speech than in thought. And this is as it should be. The “candid friend” is the least tolerable sort of friend. Let him be as candid as he likes behind our backs, but let him not humiliate us by telling us unpleasant truths about ourselves that we know as well as he does but do not talk about. about. On the other hand, the strain of not telling the truth about a man to his face would become unbearable if we could not tell it to somebody. Hence we tell it to a third person, discreetly chosen as a person who will understand.