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.”
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.
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 . . .