Thursday Inspiration — Sympathetic

9EFBFA38-CB1B-4813-97B5-CF8FF6481168He noticed her as soon as she walked into the room at the Halloween party. She had on a white, floor-length gown, white high-heeled shoes, white opera gloves, and a flower crown of made from small, white roses. She was stunning.

He walked up to her. “You look like an angel,” he said. “And you walk like angel. I’ll bet you talk like an angel, too. What is your name?”

She took his hand, smiled warmly, and said, “Just call me Angel of the Morning. Angel. And who might you be?”

“Please allow me to introduce myself,” he said. “I’m a man of wealth and taste.”

“Yes,” she said, “I can clearly see that. What exactly do you do?”

“Oh,” he said, “I’ve been around for a long, long year and I have stolen many a man’s soul to waste. I’m so pleased to meet you. Won’t you guess my name?”

“I know very well who you are and what your name is, sir,” she said, her warm smile turning quite wicked.

“Ah, so you think you know my name, do you?” he said. “But perhaps you may be puzzled by the nature of my game.”

“Puzzled? No not in the least,” she said. “I’m quite familiar with your name, Lucifer, and with your game. And I think you and I will get along splendidly.”

“Really?” he said. “You know my name and you know my game, but you think we’ll get along splendidly? Why do you think that?”

“Because I may look like and angel,” she responded, “and I may walk like an angel, and I may even talk like an angel. But if you are wise, you’ll learn that I’m really the devil in disguise.”

“Yes,” he said. “I can see where that might give you some sympathy for the devil in me.”

Written for Paula Lights Thursday Inspiration prompt where the theme is “demon.” In addition to being inspired by Paula’s prompt, my post was aided by some lyrics from these three songs:

Word Play Gone Astray

25F6CD33-9E02-4B58-9161-E9075280AB5D“I really empathize with that poor man over there,” Jessica said, looking at the homeless man sleeping beneath a tree in the park.

“No, Jessica, you don’t empathize with him,” Mitch said.  “How could you? You’ve never been homeless and had to sleep on the street.”

“You know what I mean,” responded Jessica. “I feel bad for him, sorry for him.”

“I know you do,” said Mitch. “But that’s not empathy, that’s sympathy.”

“Same difference,” Jessica said.

“No, empathy and sympathy are not the same,” Mitch said. “When you empathize with someone, you can put yourself in that person’s shoes. When you sympathize with someone, you feel compassion or pity toward that person.”

“Fine, whatever,” Jessica said. “It’s six of one, half a dozen of another.”

“Jessica,” Mitch said, “the two words are not synonymous.”

“Stop being such a grammar nerd, Mitch,” Jessica insisted. “I could care less if there is a slight difference between ‘empathize’ and ‘sympathize.’ You knew very well what I meant.”

“You mean you couldn’t care less,” Mitch said, a smile on his face.

“You’re as asshole,” Jessica said, as she stormed away.

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “sympathize.”

Just a Little Exaggeration

Do you ever exaggerate when telling a story or writing a post? Do you add an embellishment here or there for the sake of the narrative, to help your readers relate, or to gain their sympathy?

When someone exaggerates, they are representing something (or someone) as being larger, greater, better, or worse than it (or he or she) really is.

Don’t most good storytellers exaggerate a little? They embellish their tales, perhaps in order to heighten the story’s interest or to make the deeds described within seem just a bit more dramatic, heroic, or comedic.

And, of course, comedians make use of exaggeration, amplification, and hyperbole to enhance the humor of their jokes and funny stories.

An exaggeration occurs when the most fundamental aspects of a statement are true, but only to a certain degree. It’s just “stretching the truth” a little, right?

For example, when a mother scolds her child and says, “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times…” is that simply an exaggeration or is it a lie? After all, she may have told her kid that a lot, but certainly not a million times.

How about “I’m so hungry that I could eat a horse”? Or “You could have knocked me over with a feather”? Are these common idioms examples of exaggeration, hyperbole, or lies? Do we recognize and accept them because of how obvious it is that these are “exaggerations for effect”?

A fine line

But isn’t stretching the truth also lying and being dishonest? I think we can all agree that there is a fine line between exaggeration and lying. But if that’s the case, where does it fall and under what circumstances should it not be crossed?

I’ve heard some suggest that the difference between an exaggeration and a lie is that the former doesn’t cause any harm, whereas the latter does. Others say the difference between the two is that an exaggeration could be seen as a matter of interpretation of facts. A lie, though, is a deception with the intention to mislead.

It is, indeed, a slippery slope when trying to distinguish between a benign exaggeration and an outright lie.

As a blogger and a storyteller, what are your feelings about exaggeration? Do you equate adding embellishments to your posts to lying? When, if ever, is stretching the truth permissible?