Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Husband's Deceit Leads To An Artfully Tangled Web

Dear Readers:

In honor of my 10th birthday this week (6/26) I am taking a week-long vacation! For your entertainment, I am re-posting some classic columns that you may have missed the first time!


Dear Tazi-Kat:

My sister-in-law fancies herself an artist, even though the consensus is that she does not have talent in the traditional sense. Several years ago, she “created” (her word) me a painting that I have always found absolutely hideous. Not wanting to hurt her feelings, I hung the picture in my study, over my favorite easy chair. This way, it was in a place where nobody would see it (not even me, since my back was always to it when I sat down) but at the same time could be considered to be hanging in a place of honor.

Recently, I moved to a smaller home where the only place to hang the painting would have been in a very prominent place in the front room of the house. However, during the move, the painting was damaged beyond repair. My sister-in-law is beside herself that her “priceless work of art” is no more. She is suggesting that I sue the movers for the value of the painting. The problem is not only that she considers the painting to be worth several thousand dollars, but that I secretly paid the movers to “accidentally” break the frame and tear through the canvas!

My wife has no idea of what truly happened, and she had tried to comfort her sister by calling the incident “an unfortunate accident” but her sister will not stop harping on the idea of an insurance payoff to “compensate for the deep financial loss” my wife and I have experienced. If I lie to my sister-in-law and pretend to have received a modest insurance settlement, she will be insulted that’s I settled for so little; and if I lie to her and pretend that I received a large insurance settlement, it will validate her own belief that she is a very talented artist. Any advice on where I should go from here, Tazi?

Stuck in an Ugly Picture

Dear Stuck:

I do not endorse lying for whatever reason because, as you are now discovering, dishonesty has a way of creating all sorts of new problems – although I must say, the fact that you paid off the movers to “accidentally” destroy the painting did give me a giggle! Does that make me a bad kitty? Or was the picture really that bad? Oh, look! Now here I am asking you for advice!

Considering that the lie has already been told, my advice to you is not to compound it. If coming clean will cause more trouble, as well as hurt feelings for innocent parties – and it sounds like it will – than coming clean is not the answer.

You might want to try taking the remains of the painting (or a picture of the painting, if you no longer have the actual painting itself) and paying to have it professionally appraised. I realize this might cost you a little more than the original $20 you had planned on laying out, but think of it as a down-payment on peace and quiet in your home. Should the appraiser come back with a low value on the painting, you can present this estimate to your sister-in-law with the explanation that sentimental value does not increase the professional value of a painting. Should the painting actually have been worth something, the joke will be on you; and your sister-in-law will have every right to believe herself a “very talented artist”. Either way, you should let the whole idea of an insurance claim fall by the wayside. Sometimes, we need to lay in the beds we have made.


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