I can believe anything provided it is incredible.

~ Oscar Wilde

I have a confession to make.

If you tell me something, I’ll probably believe you.

Share with me your opinion or thought or some nugget of the details that comprise your life and, while I may not always agree and might probe you for clarification, I’ll take your word for it. I expect that from others, so I willingly grant it.

I’ve never been one for idle chit chat, and my loathing for the sort of badinage that infests too many a conversation these days has left me a bit of an outsider. I’m the one in the corner sitting by myself, nose in a book, while others are busy congregating around the tables of life being all snarky and vague. I tend to misinterpret that sort of stuff. And I usually get burned.

Instead, I choose my conversations carefully. If I take the time to talk with you, you should understand that our conversation will be undergirded by honesty and openness. Life is too short to care so little. I want to know where you’re coming from. To know what makes you tick. To share with you in the joy and heartache. The part and parcel of our existence. Obviously, not every interaction need be this intimate; I can banter with the best of them. But understand that if you share something with me adorned with the scent of disclosure and profundity, I’m going to believe you.

According to my American Heritage English Dictionary, Fourth Edition, I am “easily deceived or duped.”

To wit:

My wife picked me up from work last night wearing a mischievous grin. “Have you been on Facebook today?” I gave her a roll of the eyes. I worked 28 hours of overtime this week. I haven’t been on Facebook in a coon’s age. “Your sister posted some very interesting pictures.” The word “interesting” drawn out and greatly inflected with a hint of controversy. My sister. Currently on vacation in Alaska. “Did she go snowshoeing?” Silence. “Met Sarah Palin?” Laughter. The kind that is gleefully hiding a secret. “I’m not telling. I promised.”

So I log in. And there she is. In one picture she’s smiling way too broadly for someone with jet lag, thrusting a hand toward the camera. Another is a close-up of that same hand, her left hand, sporting a sizeable rock. And in another, she’s wrapped in the arms of a man I’ve never met, an impromptu engagement photograph. And they look thrilled.

Wall-to-wall: “WTF???!?!?!?!?”

I know she’ll see it rather quickly and call me. And I can’t wait to talk to her, to share with her in this moment, the one she’s been waiting for since we were kids but has thus far eluded her time and time again. I want to know the details. Did they meet online? She’s had a few of those relationships. They’ve left her calloused and cold in the end. Was it someone she just met? In Alaska of all places?! Someone who, so instantly swept away by her quick laughter and dazzling smile, saw fit to waste no further time and pop the question?

God! Look at her!

Of course there were other questions: I wonder how my other sister is taking this? They’ve lived together for years, sharing vehicles and movie nights and utility bills. This will change everything. And my mom and dad, currently visiting and planning to move up here, right next door to them, later this month. Did they know? Was this part of some grand scheme, previously hidden but now out in the open? Tumblers clicked into place, my mind racing along rails that formed as it sped forward, the scene unfolding with the colors of things coming to fruition. I’d been had in a big way. And it felt good to imagine something new. For her, and him, and me and mine. I thought of tuxedoes. Of watching her walk down some chapel aisle clad in yards of white. Into my stagnant waters had belly-flopped the coolest thing possible. I waited for her reply.

I didn’t have to wait long. “Hey, Bubba!” “Hey, yourself, girlfriend!” She was laughing. I imagined her all those miles away, snuggling with her new beau, holding his hand, overcome. “How long have you known this guy?” “We’ve been talking for several years.” More laughter. “So you’ve met him before?” “Many times.” What?! She’s been to Alaska before to visit the same old college friend, and I heard her laughing in the background as well. I imagined the festivities. This moment where things had gelled.

And then the tone of the laughter changed. “IT’S A JOKE, BUBBA!”


I really had been had. Duped. Burned. And this morning, as I write this, it still isn’t funny. For a few precious moments, I had ached to reach across the miles and celebrate with her. To dream with her of new circumstances and experiences. To watch and partake as her fantasy became reality. I wanted to make her moment my moment. Our moment.

Now, I just want to strangle her. And myself, for letting it happen again . . .

[photo credit]


20 thoughts on “Gullible

  1. Annoying reader #1 checking in: I think your lingering instinct to strangle and not to laugh suggests this desire for new experiences, new realities is more your own than a shared one with your sister. So, get with the fantasy program, go out and do something “new” today. As long as it doesn’t involve online dating I’m sure arynsmom will support you!

  2. ouch. i’d have been a bit miffed at this as well… but from her point of view? she’s playing around with something that she apparently wants very much and can’t seem to find. her ability to joke about it – yeah, even at your expense – may help her process her frustration somehow? i dunno. sometimes i don’t really like practical jokes…

  3. I called to let you in on the joke but was told to not tell. Sorry Bubba. Forgive me?

    1. Of course you’re forgiven. The first part of this post is very general in nature and not necessarily applicable to this situation. I am easily duped, though, which probably makes this sort of thing fun to pull on me.

      And for the record, I found out about Garsy’s hand in all this after the fact. She’s got some ‘splainin’ to do . . .

  4. did you know that gullible isn’t actually in the dictionary?

  5. I think sister is getting tube socks for Christmas.

  6. I’d be annoyed, too. But I bet there’s more than a hint of longing on her end.

  7. Oh please! Get over it Brian! It was MY idea not to tell you! She wanted to and I told her not to. I had to see the reaction! And it was just as I thought. You went into “I’m so excited and happy for her, but have no clue what’s happening – what about . . .” mode. Be nice to your sister! If anyone deserves tube socks it’s me and I don’t mind I need socks anyway!

  8. And it was so much fun! So there!

  9. Ouch, Brian. This is something that I too would fall for, being somewhat gullible myself. And, of course, in the aftermath, finding out the truth would feel pissed off and also disappointed that the desired scenario was just a ruse perpetrated by those close who should desist from getting their kicks at my expense. Heck, they would be forgiven eventually, but I would always, forever, be on the lookout for repeats of such gulling. G

  10. I don’t know… a posting on Facebook would probably make me pause, but if I didn’t even know she was dating someone I’d be skeptical. However, I have no idea how close you two are, so I can’t really say.

    1. Odd enough, I am quite skeptical about a lot of the big issues in life. Why I love in-depth discussions so much. But stuff like this . . . maybe I fall for it because it’s off the radar from my usual ponderings . . .

  11. Doh. That was from me. Using my wife’s computer (obviously).

  12. I am SO cut from the same cloth. I startle easily too. [I suppose that’s in a different category, but I felt like sharing.] From one gullible person to another, I understand. 🙂

  13. Considering that spent 10 years as a cynical, skeptical reporter, I’m just as big as sucker as you are in these instances. Bless us, all. Cheers.

  14. Sucked in.

    Though, to be fair a pretty elaborate prank!

  15. I would have been ready to kill! And then I would have started thinking of a way to get revenge…[evil laugh].

  16. Oh my – I would be a little pissed about that too. I don’t even get how it’s funny. I’m engaged…haha, no I’m not? What? It’s like the moment you heard the truth you lost all that joy for your sister, for what the future held. Oh well, I guess being able to take a joke is important in this life, right?

  17. michael.offworld August 12, 2009 — 2:11 pm

    That was worth getting duped. Very funny.

  18. Wow. That was nicely done. Perhaps I’m gullible as well, because I was in it til the end.

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