A Character Study: Justifying Your Rationale About Doing A Tango With The Truth

~ INTRODUCTION ~

I NEVER INTENDED TO write about this person, she’s someone I knew a long time ago.  I’d guess that I haven’t been in touch with her for over a decade, maybe longer.

I got thinking of her because I found one of her business cards wedged in the back of my desk drawer.  I’m surprised I kept it, to be honest– but there it was and memories of her flooded into my brain.

So here’s a story, a character study if you will, of a pleasant someone who had her own unique way of rationalizing that which she said and felt no shame about telling, what were ostensibly, falsehoods.

• • •

ONCE UPON A TIME I knew a lovely woman who introduced me to a college acquaintance of hers;  I shall call this acquaintance Nedra.  The lovely women moved away but out of respect for her, Nedra and I still got together for coffee every few months.

Our relationship was superficial, but delightful at first.  Nedra and I had interests in common, reading and healthy eating.  She was dating at the time and had funny stories about her experiences.  I was remodeling the kitchen and had ridiculous stories about my experiences.

All would’ve been well IF I hadn’t come to realize that Nedra was making up stories about her love life. And her career. Stories that she told me, doing what I’d describe as, a tango with the truth.

• • •

I STUMBLED OVER THIS dance with reality while we were having coffee one day.  I hadn’t seen her in a while and I asked her about a guy she’d been on a date with, a date that she’d described in detail months before.

Well, she looked confused, baffled by my question– and told me I must be wrong about her, that she’d never been on a date like that.  Clearly I was mistaken.

Except I wasn’t. I’m not that addled-brained. I remembered quite specifically her conversation and joyfulness vis-à-vis this date. That hadn’t happened, but she said it had. Uh huh.

• • •

AS YOU CAN IMAGINE after that conversation I became more disinclined to believe what Nedra said to me, but I was intrigued because I’m a curious person who pays attention to people– and here was a character for me to watch.

Up close and in action, so to speak.

Time passed, like a year or so, and I was to a point where I didn’t want to meet Nedra for coffee anymore.  Beyond her propensity to make up stories, I no longer needed to be in her part of town on a regular basis so getting together with her was a chore.  On many levels.

Still, I wanted to know more about her reasoning for making up stories: why she did it and, you know, if she experienced any remorse about deviating from the truth. So I asked her, politely, tactfully, why she made up stories about her life and this is where it got really interesting.

• • •

NEDRA BELIEVED THAT BY making up stories about her life she was showing people how to make themselves whole.  She was, she felt, merely using her fictional tales to guide people to make better decisions about themselves.

She justified this by saying that when you think about it, scripted TV shows and movies were often fabricated stories that we accept as having a real impact on our minds, hearts, psyches.  We believe the stories and accept the messages contained within.

Therefore she was doing the same thing with her stories on a smaller, more personal, scale so that she could help people become more self-aware and feel empowered to do better. And as such she felt no guilt for what some of us might call lying.

• • •

Have you met anyone like Nedra who does a tango with the truth?

Do you think she has a point about scripted TV & movies being basically lies so why not do it too?

Was she naive or manipulative?

Have you found a business card from someone you lost touch with and got thinking about them, for better or for worse?

~ THE END ~

The HOA Is Asking Us To Decide Something Morally Murky

Seeing clearly? Antique lenses used by eye doctor to determine the prescription for your spectacles.

• • •

When I saw the lawyer’s return address on the letter in our mailbox I knew something was up with the Home Owners Association [HOA].

I opened the envelope and began to read the letter + the attachments, written in legalese, describing what the HOA wants us, the homeowners, to decide about changing our by-laws.

I like our HOA.  The people on it do a good job of informing us in a timely manner about break-ins and coyotes and streets under repair and pool closures. Things like that, plus they do a great job of keeping the entrances looking spiffy.

They earn their keep;  however I find this proposed addition to the by-laws to be a dicey issue.

We are being asked as a group to decide if a registered sex offender [in any state] can buy or rent a house in this large subdivision.

I don’t know if there’s a right or wrong answer to this proposed addition to the by-laws because while it may be legal, this is a morally murky area.

I mean, if someone has done their time for their crime do we have the right to not let him or her live here? Or is this a high-handed way to snoop inside the lives of other people?

And further, what about domestic violence perpetrators with a police record? Or drunk drivers with multiple arrests?  Do we refuse to allow them to live here?  They worry me as much as, if not more than, registered sex offenders.

Like I said, no clear answer here– but a great topic of conversation. What say you to this? Comments are open below.

In Which Ms. Bean Is An Accessory After The Fact, Maybe

TECHNICALLY I am guilty.

That’s what Zen-Den, Esq, tells me.

That by not reporting what I saw to the authorities I aided in, but was not an accomplice with, someone who stole something;  that I am an accessory after the fact.

Well, so be it, says I.

Sometimes the entertainment value of not doing what you’re supposed to do is worth risking the wrath of the law.  As if this situation would ever involve the police.

You see, I was in the Self-Scan lane at the grocery checking out when I noticed a mother with a baby and a 5 y.o. boy.  The Mom was showing/supervising/focusing on Young Boy as he learned how to use the scanner.

🛒 → 😇 → 👶 ← 😇←🛒

MEANWHILE Baby Brother was sitting like a sweet angelic cherub in the seat part of the basket cart.

Mom had placed on the basket cart one of those quilted blanket-y thingies that attach to the seat part of the cart so that the baby never touches the basket cart itself.  [I have no idea what to call those things.]

Baby Brother, after looking at Mom to make sure she wasn’t paying attention to him, in a calculated and deliberate move, used his pudgy little paw to grab a toothbrush from the basket part of the cart.

I’m assuming that Mom had put the toothbrush in the cart as she was shopping in the store, planning on buying the toothbrush.

🛒→ 😁 → 👶 ← 😁 ←🛒

HOWEVER Baby Brother with the sticky fingers was planning to do something different.

His plan involved him hiding the toothbrush, where no one would see it, in front of himself in the folds of the puffy fabric that surrounded him.

Mine, mine, mine, his smile said!

This was a brazen theft right under everyone’s nose, except me who happened to see what Baby Brother swiped.  I could have, of course, squealed on him to Mr. Man who was in charge of the Self-Scan lane, but I chose not to.

And I cannot for sure say that Mom didn’t find & pay for the toothbrush before she left the store because I was out the door long before she and Young Boy finished scanning their purchases.

But I can say that I don’t know when I’ve laughed so hard leaving a grocery store, my cart filled with items, legally purchased, and my heart filled with the joy that comes from watching babies do what babies do.

Pondering A Neighbor: The Difference Between Gossip And Information

WHILE ATTEMPTING TO MAKE A left-hand turn into our driveway I had to stop to allow a jogger, the neighborhood registered sex offender*, to run by before I could turn into our driveway.

He turned to look at me and snarled.  I looked at him and tipped my head, slightly, to acknowledge his presence.

I didn’t attempt to run over him with my car nor did I give him the finger.  Both options occurred to me as I sat there waiting for him to get out of my way but I realize that with some people indifferent is the best you can do.

I’D LOVE TO LEAVE THIS story at that, but here’s the thing– and it’s something that’s weighed on my mind since seeing this guy, a man who has served his prison time and is now merely listed on the state registered sex offender website.

In the last year, or two, this man has fathered a baby girl with his wife [girlfriend?].  They live down the street.  In this family neighborhood.

Uh huh.

Interestingly enough, it’s my understanding that soon, in the next year, he will be eligible to have his name removed from the sex offender website.  Meaning that only those of us neighbors who are here now will know about his past.

SO GETTING TO MY POINT, I’m left with three questions:

  1. would any parent knowingly allow their child to play with his daughter at his house?
  2. how unfair is it for this daughter to live her life under the shadow of his crime? and 
  3. when new neighbors move into the neighborhood, should someone tell them the rest of his story?

Discuss.

• • •

* UPDATED: This afternoon I got a chance to use the search function on The U.S. Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public Website.  The neighbor is no longer listed there.  HOWEVER, there were 13 other people listed as registered sex offenders who live within a 3 mile radius of my house.  I had no idea…

• • •

A Refreshing Conversation With An Older Gentleman Who Takes Life In Stride

“Sometimes you’re the windshield, Sometimes you’re the bug…” 

I was listening to an older acquaintance chuckle as he told me about a scam he’d gotten caught up in.  He understood what had happened and how it’d happened.

After some research and many phone calls, he’d extracted himself from the scam and was a few hundred dollars poorer because of it.

He told me that in retrospect he realized that the whole mess was less about him being stupid, than about the scam being slick and sophisticated, taking advantage of his trusting nature + his unfamiliarity with certain details.

No surprise there, eh?

But what struck me about this conversation, that was more like a monologue, was that this older gentleman telling me this story wasn’t bitter about what had happened.  There was not one ounce of “I’m a victim” or “I blame _____” going on with this guy.

Instead, he was telling his story as a cautionary tale.  All he needed was for someone to listen and understand his predicament– and for someone to tell him that he “done good” solving the problem himself.

All of which got me thinking…

When was the last time you were part of a conversation like this one?  SERIOUSLY, when did you last listen to someone who had been taken advantage of– and who wasn’t whining and emoting about the unfairness of it all?

Someone who was behaving like an adult who grasped the fact that in the rhythm of life not everything works out as planned– and that’s ok, too, because if you’re smart, you learn from it and move on.

Like this older gentleman did, in his quiet self-deprecating way.

Social Media: Rambling Thoughts About People Who Hate-Follow

It’s not that I’m a martyr to nice, but I don’t hate-follow anyone on social media.  It seems like more work than fun to me, but maybe I don’t know how to do it right.

I know it’s a thing to hate-follow other people.  I keep hearing about it from friends and family, sometimes in the context of harmless mischief, other times mentioned as, what I’d call, peremptory maliciousness.

They tell me who they follow, often a high school nemesis or a work frenemy or a disliked neighbor.

They tell me that doing this makes them feel good about themselves. That by keeping tabs on someone who they dislike, they come to understand themselves better &/or stay ahead of any trouble that might be brewing.

I don’t know if I totally buy into my friends and family’s reasoning behind the hate-following. To me their reasoning sounds more like rationalization about doing something kinda fun + almost amoral, than behavior contributing to a person’s good mental health.

But considering no one expects me to become a hate-follower, and no one seems to have upped his or her dosage of Zanax because of the hate-following, I figure what the heck?

I mean if nothing else, these friends and family do seem to have some fun, juicy stories to share about people– and you know me, I always love a good story, regardless of how someone learns about it.

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY:

• Do you hate-follow anyone on social media? If so, how’s that working out for you? Details, please.

• Alternately, do you know anyone who hate-follows on social media? If so, do they have good stories to tell because of it? Or is it warping their brain to the dark side?

• Even more intriguing, do you think anyone is hate-following you? Hmmm?

The Tale Of Getting Our Held Mail Upon Return From Vacay

I DID NOT START THIS.  I want to be clear on this point.

I inherited this feud from some women who used to live on this street when all the houses were new, and the street wasn’t finished yet.  Women who moved to the midwest from big sophisticated cities.

Women who had never dealt with a small town misogynistic resentful male postal clerk who grumbled loudly about doing his job, poorly.

For reasons never fully explained to me they hated him, and being who they were, they launched a letter-writing + email-sending campaign to get him fired.  They found the names of everyone in the U.S. Postal Service who might be influential enough to get this resentful male postal clerk axed from his job– and set about trying to make it so.

Their campaign, organized and relentless as it was, did not work.

THEN they moved away leaving me the only woman on this street who knows what they did– and still suffers for it because he remembers which part of our street was out to get him.

The block I live on.

# # #

# # #

SO KNOWING WHAT I KNOW, I went over to our local post office branch to get our mail that had been held while we were on vacation.

As usual he was the only clerk working behind the counter and I had to stand in a long line.  No big deal.  Totally expected.

What I did not expect, however, was our resentful male postal clerk getting into a prolonged shouting match with a male customer who was trying to decide which box to use to send something somewhere.

Our resentful male postal clerk had strong opinions on what this customer guy should be doing– and the customer guy was. not. buying. it. at. all.

I found this tense conversation fascinating because this is my first experience with our resentful male postal clerk turning vicious on a man.

He’s branched out.  [pun intended]

# # #

# # #

EVENTUALLY I GET TO THE COUNTER.  With a sense of foreboding I hand my driver’s license to our resentful male postal clerk, and I wait for the inevitable hateful glare.

The snarl.

The shout.

“Greenwood Street, huh?”

But this time, my gentle readers, I was ready.  I put on what might be my best dramatic performance ever, playing the part of a contrite suburbanite.  When he squinted his eyes and glared at me, I slouched, I looked down at the floor, and I hung my head in shame for living on the street that I do.

Oddly, this performance seemed to light a fire under his heretofore slow-moving butt and he went into the back of the post office branch to retrieve my mail.  Lickety-split-like.  Without whining.

# # #

# # #

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE.  As if this story could get more exciting and amazing, when our resentful male postal clerk returned from the back with our mail, that included 31 catalogues + many letters, he had it in an official U.S. Post Office rectangular white plastic toter that he handed to me.

This is unprecedented.

Never before has this resentful male postal clerk NOT dumped all of our mail on the counter for me to grasp, as best I can, in my arms.  He has previously enjoyed making me look like a klutz as I scramble to not drop anything while skedaddling out of his post office branch.

But this time, he was, for him, in his own way, almost kind to me.

And I gotta tell ‘ya, I find this a bit disturbing.  It’s just not normal– like he’s playing some new game with me that I have yet to figure out.