This I Believe

Karen - San Diego, California
Entered on March 11, 2007

I believe in honesty. I believe that by being true to others, we are true to ourselves. I believe in the power of authenticity as a foundation for a relationship.

My husband and I recently moved into a new neighborhood and were delighted to find ourselves surrounded by friendly neighbors. We invited the Steinley’s: Marty, Kathleen and their 3 boys — a clan of 5 vegetarians — to our place for dinner. As a devout carnivore, I must admit that I had trouble planning the menu, but eventually came up with a feast that included a complicated butternut squash soup that required hours of baking, pureeing, and simmering. I was eager to make our new friends feel comfortable and well-fed during their first visit to our home. Both Kathleen and Marty vowed that butternut squash was their favorite.

As I plopped the viscous orange liquid into bowls, my peripheral vision caught sight of a can of chicken broth on the kitchen counter. Slowly my mind put 2+2 together and I realized my mistake: I put chicken broth in my made-to-please-a-vegetarian soup. In the next room I heard my husband say to me, “Honey, do you need help serving the soup?”

Over the next 2 seconds my mind raced as it calculated the risks and considerations: Should I tell them the truth or just serve the soup as planned? No one would notice amidst the heavy taste of squash, cilantro, and heavy cream. But would their 20-year-vegetarian stomachs get sick if it came in contact with animal proteins? Would they think I’m a fool for such an oversight? Is the importance of having a flawless first “date” with new friends more important than the truth?

Moments later I sheepishly poked my head into the dining room. My face pink and forehead slippery in defiance of my error. “I’m sorry but I accidentally put about 1-cup of chicken broth in your “vegetarian” soup.” For a few seconds there was nothing but silence. I held my breath. Within minutes we were all laughing and the Steinley’s graciously decided to eat the soup anyway figuring that such as small amount of chicken broth wouldn’t compromise their health or their morals.

The Steinlyes haven’t reciprocated with a dinner invitation to their house yet, but they did send a wonderful thank-you note. I believe that by being honest with them, I was true to myself. And when we are true to ourselves we are more able to make meaningful connections with others. This I believe.