Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sometimes There Are FOUR Sides To A Story

You've heard the expression, "There are three sides to every story. Yours, mine and the truth."

Sometimes though, there is a fourth side.

Take this scenario:

There are four people - we'll call them Abigail, Buford, Carmela and Daphne.

Abigail and Buford used to date and Carmela and Daphne were their friends.

Then Abigail and Buford broke up. Carmela and Daphne stayed friends with both of them, but as you would expect, things were a little different.

Abigail, an only child, has a history of being spoiled. Always used to getting her way, upset when she doesn't get what she wants, acting the victim if she thinks she’s been wronged and often throwing around her family name as if it means something. “Well that’s just how us Chester’s are.” or “They obviously don’t know they’re dealing with a Chester” or “I get my stubborn side from my father. It’s a Chester family trait.” As if that's something to be proud of. She is insecure, has a need to be surrounded by friends, even if they're just “friends” and often pouts if she's not the center of attention. She will snub you without a thought and whip her nose in the air as if you don't exist. She acts nice, but often, really isn't. That’s the insecurity. For example, instead of gushing with a compliment, such as “Oh my gosh, you look great!” or “Wow, you’ve really lost weight!” or “I LOVE that outfit!”, she would rather look you up and down and POINTEDLY not say anything. It never goes unnoticed but it always points out her insecurity.

Buford, on the other hand, is the life of the party. Everyone loves Buford. He's social, good with animals and people, volunteers his time, has great parents, a beautiful wife (who is just as personable and fun) and generally enjoys his life. Buford doesn’t see much reason to dredge up the past, clamor for attention or call people names when he gets pissed off. Also, he’s quick to give a compliment – especially to the ladies!!

Recently, Abigail and Buford ran into each other at the party of a mutual friend. Well, really Buford’s friend. Abigail hadn’t been in touch with their old friend for a while, whereas at Buford's recent wedding ceremony, this friend stood up for him as his best man. Buford's presence at the party wasn't unexpected and the only reason Abigail came is because she heard about it through the grapevine; she wasn’t really invited.

But that’s okay, Buford didn’t mind. He wasn’t even all that surprised to see her since he knew she might show up. Plus, Buford looked great – even more handsome than when they had been together. Abigail, on the other hand, still looked the same and it seemed, still had the habit of turning beet red whenever she was embarrassed.

The telling of the meeting though, gets a little clouded when it was passed on to Abigail’s friends. Abigail of course, made herself the heroine in her story, “You should have seen Buford’s face when he saw me. Eyes big as saucers. He was clearly uncomfortable.” She went on to say how she was the “bigger” of the two (as Daphne would say, literally) by being polite and cordial.

When Buford told his friend Daphne about the encounter, it went more like this: “I walked into the room and guess who was there? That’s right, Abigail. She turned beet red when she saw me, something she’s always done and can never hide, especially when she’s uncomfortable or embarrassed. She made some awkward small talk with me and then left to get herself a drink at the bar. I’m telling you, I thought I handled it pretty well. I felt great, I looked great and most of all, I was nice. I even met her new boyfriend. I went right up to him, shook his hand and introduced myself.”

“The new boyfriend is a bit beastly, isn’t he? Not at all handsome.” Daphne said.

Buford smiled and just said, “I’m not going to go there. Let’s just say he was nice. I don’t have any reason to say much more about the guy.” Buford always takes the high road.

Buford continued, “And when the party came to an end, I really had to get going since my wife was waiting at home for me, but as I looked over and saw Abigail, I knew I didn’t want to leave the party at the same time she did and have to walk out to our cars together. You know how she is, she’d wind up taking it wrong and report to her friends how I just couldn’t stay away. I can hear her now. She’s just the type to say 'Oh, you see that? He just couldn’t stay away from me. He’s still got a thing for me you know, having to leave the party at the same exact time I did, just to be in my company for one more minute. I wish he would just move on with his life.' I didn’t want to be any part of that, so I helped the host clean up a bit and once the coast cleared, I went on my way."

Daphne said, “You did the right thing. You know Abigail would’ve told everyone how you followed her around all night. She’s really delusional. It’s as if she sees things in her very own light, which is always SO far from the way it actually happened.”

And that’s where the fourth side of the story comes in. There is Abigail’s telling of it, Buford’s telling of it, what really happened and then Abigail’s version of what she thinks actually happened. The version that only took place in her own little world.

When Daphne told Carmela the story, Carmela instantly knew that Buford’s version was the right one. If you remember, they’d been friends for a number of years. And it didn’t take Carmela too long to identify the repetitive behaviors of her friends. Besides, Carmela knew Abigail. She’d seen her in action. She knew how Abigail liked to make herself look better to her friends, how she acted as if she was the one who was doing so well after the breakup, how she was the one who quickly got on with her life and found other guys to date, how she had no interest in where Buford was and what he was doing (yet seemed to always have her nose pressed to the window looking for his passing car on the street) and who, to this day, still refers to Buford as, "that horse’s ass that I used to date”. It seemed to Carmela and Daphne as if Abigail still had some unresolved issues.

Margaret Thatcher once said, “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”

It’s the same with Abigail. If she has to keep telling people about how she’s so “over” Buford and how she “shocked him to the core” when she showed up at the party and how she “has such a great life now, with her new man, her friends and her social life” then maybe she doesn’t have such a great new life. Maybe she’s making do because she doesn’t really know how to be happy. Maybe she only knows how to act happy.

You don’t have to keep telling people how great your new love is, if in fact he’s the bee's knees. You don’t have to keep telling people how great your friends are and how many parties you’re having in order to boost your status as a social butterfly if it’s a well known fact. And you don’t have to keep insisting you’re happy if you really are. Because if you’re REALLY happy, it would just show. Not a soul would ever even think to ask, because the answer would be evident.

So don’t create a fourth side to the story. Tell it like it is. You know very well when you’re embellishing your version of a story for the sake of looking like the one coming out on top, but if there are other people who can verify what actually happened, like the other guests who were well aware of the fact that these two exes wound up at the same party, try not to stray too far from the truth.

Someone who has moved on, who has a great new mate, wonderful friends and a beautiful life, isn’t the person who makes up their own version of a story. We’re all human. Many of these events have happened to us too. And those of us who embrace our humanness and tell it the way it is, are usually more accepted and more respected.

Because we are real and everyone loves someone who is REAL. If the ability to be real doesn’t come naturally to you, work on it. It’s certainly a better use of your time than concocting stories that don’t jibe with anyone else’s version. And believe me, people compare versions.

If they didn’t, this story wouldn’t even exist.


Anonymous said...

Abigail sounds like a snooty bitch. I'd kick her ass.

(btw, to answer your question on my post? 1st time, Panera Sandwich, 2nd time flossing, believe it or not)

Now go kick her ass. lol.

Anonymous said...


Gil said...

I got dizzy reading that! I'm only drinking CT water.

Just Sayin... said...

I just love you. I can't wait to see you, it's been forever!

Dreamybee said...

LOL-I totally have a friend who is an Abigail! She just doesn't seem to think that anybody else talks to each other outside of talking to her.