Wednesday, December 25, 2002

For most people, honesty is such an unusual departure from their standard modus operandi – such an aberration in their workaday mendacity – that they feel obligated to alert you when a moment of sincerity is coming on. ‘To be completely honest,’ they say, or, ‘To tell you the truth,’ or, ‘Can I be straight?’ Often they want to extract vows of discretion from you before going any further. ‘This strictly between us, right?... You must promise not to tell anyone.’ Sheba does none of that. She tosses out intimate and unflattering truths about herself all the time, without a second thought. ‘I was the most fearsomely obsessive little masturbator when I was a girl,’ she told me once when we were first getting to know each other. ‘My mother practically had to Sellotape my knickers to me, to stop me having at myself in public places.’

Zoë Heller, “What Sheba Did Wrong,” in Granta 79 (131)

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