FINANCIAL STATEMENTS, especially of publicly listed companies, are required to explain certain entries that may be vague or out of the ordinary. Such items as “other income” need to be given a breakdown of their component parts, such as revenues from subsidiaries or Christmas cash gifts. “Advances to affiliates” need details on which companies are involved and the nature of the advances given and whether it is expected to be liquidated at some future time.
Explanatory notes also apply to social situations.
If you bump into a friend at an out-of-the way restaurant (like Tagaytay on a weekday), he is likely to explain what he is doing there, maybe a despedida for a colleague. (You recognize him even with the face mask.) You too will need to reciprocate with an explanation of your own, after the fist bump.
More complicated situations can arise as when one is seen in the same place with a person of the opposite sex (or the same sex for that matter) who is 40 years younger. If the other party is there attending a company seminar (we don’t believe in webinars), he has a legitimate explanation. The one with a younger associate in tow then tries to promote an acceptable fiction on the situation — she’s showing me some properties for investment. (Wait, we have to check the basement parking of this building.)
To avoid awkward explanations which anyway are difficult to concoct at a moment’s notice and likely to cause stammering and many pregnant pauses, it is best to simply avoid acquaintances altogether. This evasion technique requires a double mask or taking the fire exit to the parking lot.
Westerners, or even natives with more sophisticated civility, will not inquire into why a person is where she is or why she is with who she’s with. They don’t presume intimacy such as blurting out intrusive observations on a person’s status — Wow, you’re so fat. What have you done to yourself? Meddling and the inability or unwillingness to recognize borders behind which individuals deserve their privacy are somehow an intrinsic part of our culture. Aunts don’t think anything of asking what one does for a living and sometimes even how much one’s salary is.
The social pressure to explain oneself even when not asked to do so may be part of our maternal culture. Mothers, it seems, have a carte blanche authority to ask what their offspring are up to, especially when they are behind locked doors — What are you doing in there? Open this door at once. Are you soiling the bedsheets again?
Is it possible to greet an acquaintance and his family at a restaurant without introducing the person one is with? The knowing looks directed at the unidentified and masked partner are silent appeals to introduce who is standing quietly beside you. Briskly moving on and heading for the exit without further ado may cause some static with the companion. (Why didn’t you introduce me? I feel so slighted.)
Explanations try to prove that what looks embarrassing is just taken out of context. It craves for another person’s good opinion. Thus, those who have nothing to hide, being where they have every right to be and with a companion legitimately related to them are only too eager to walk across the wide hall to greet distant acquaintances with the cheery — Hi, how are you doing? I’d like you to meet my wife. (And is that one dining beside you your niece perhaps?)
Politicians, especially those running for office (or thinking about it), try to avoid explanations. Even when caught in a compromising situation (like an unexplained bank account) they dodge and avoid interviews. They can even argue quite calmly that lying is part of the political game — Everybody lies, so why are you in such a snit if you caught me in one? It was always just a joke.
Anyway, when there are all sorts of things that need to be explained, the attention span of the public can be short. The sovereignty issue over some body of water may just require too many details in fine print.
Those who have something to hide or are required to explain what they have not successfully hidden can take comfort in the dismissive shrug of a bored audience that wants to move on…after getting “too much information.”
Tony Samson is Chairman and CEO of TOUCH xda