Quentin Crisp--writer, performer, and all-around character--died last month at age 90. One of the first people to state publicly that he was gay, Crisp was as good at knowing when to shade the truth as he was at knowing when to tell it. The quote and audio clip below come from a 1985 interview with Bob Edwards of National Public Radio, conducted on the publication of Crisp's Manners From Heaven: A Divine Guide to Good Behavior.

"I'm afraid manners are not morality. Presumably a moralist may never tell a lie. Someone interested in manners tries to tell as few lies as possible because on the way back he might have to say the opposite. But it's very noticeable that the word `truth' is usually accompanied by words like `the awful truth,' `the grim truth.' Lies are never considered grim. It's never appropriate to tell the truth unless it's already very bland, very favorable. The main difficulty is, of course, the word `no.' You have to avoid at all costs saying no. So when people say, `Will you marry me?' you say, `I don't feel I am worthy.' It means `No.'"

more from beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad