Charles Boothe mugshot

Charles Boothe

Honesty really is the best policy, especially when sneaking some Cheetos.

The summer outdoor party at a friend’s house in Tazewell County was going great, with plenty of music, food and friends.

I had a big bag of Cheetos in my ragtop Jeep so at some point I walked the short distance to retrieve it from the backseat.

As I approached, I saw a lady getting her kids out of my Jeep.

She looked up at me and said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know they were in there and I think they got into your Cheetos.”

I told her that was fine, but it was all I could do not to laugh.

That’s because the end of her fingers were kind of orange, as was a part of her lips.

Looked like she had made a quick stab at wiping everything off but that’s not easy with Cheetos. The evidence was still there.

Another similar incident happened at work several years ago.

My mother had sent some cookies to me and I took a baggie full of them to work and left them on the counter in our work kitchen.

When I went in to get the baggie later that morning, I saw a guy I worked with standing by the counter with an almost empty baggie close by. Only two cookies were left.

He looked a bit awkward but just started small talk.

I picked up the bag and said, like thinking out loud and in a non-accusatory tone, “Gosh, wonder what happened to my cookies?”

He said he had not even seen them, but I could detect a distinct sense of guilt on his face as he lowered his eyes when he said it and turned his head to the side.

Besides, he had cookie crumbs around his mouth.

Yes, I know, it’s quite often hard to be honest, even with small stuff like Cheetos and cookies.

Most of us probably know at least one or two people who are completely honest, though and they could not lie if they had to. Aunt Ebb was like that and I have written about her childlike honesty quite often.

Okay, sometimes feelings can be hurt with honesty, what some may call “offensive honesty,” but I still would rather have the truth, even with small stuff.

Isn’t it nice to be around people, even at work, who you know will tell you the truth? After all, you don’t want to run around all day with a split in the back or your pants you can’t see.

The key for me has always been honesty in cooking and eating.

If I make something and share it, I want to know if people like it. If they don’t or have a suggestion to make it better, that does not offend me at all. In fact, I welcome it.

However, many people are not like that and one was my former mother-in-law, who lives in New Jersey so no one local, thank goodness.

On my first visit to her home she cooked dinner and presented a few small chicken legs, some boiled potatoes and what, I think, was some sort of spinach/broccoli casserole.

I did not mention the small number of chicken legs for four adults. My goodness, I could have easily eaten all of them.

But the casserole was truly inedible. I have no idea what went wrong, but it was toxic. However, I could see that everyone else was choking it down to be polite, even commenting what a great dinner it was.

I took one bite and ate no more. When she said, “Don’t you like my casserole?” I said, “No, I’m sorry, I don’t. I can’t eat it.”

Talking about getting off on the wrong foot. Well, the relationship stayed on the wrong foot. In fact, it never fit at all.

She was never really nice to me again and even commented that she was concerned about my hillbilly roots as far as the genetic soundness of any grandchildren she may eventually have.

But I didn’t care. After all, she did ask me why I wasn’t eating the darn casserole. Honesty may be the best policy, but you have to be willing to pay the price.

I try not be offensively honest, but if you don’t want my honest opinion about something, then don’t ask.

And if you ever eat anything I cook, tell me the truth because I will ask if you like it.

— Charles Boothe is a reporter for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph and can be reached at

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