The Post In Which I Eat Crow
Mmmm. Yummy crow. I will not eat the whole crow, but I will serve myself up a nice big gnarly piece of breast meat and chow down, carefully, with lots of honey mustard or barbecue sauce to help with the taste.
Remember my post on The Man Box, and then the one about The Bet? Remember dear old Vern? Well, after Kay’s comment on The Bet I rushed to old Vern’s defense pretty quickly, and I realized that something about the cynicism of the situation really bothered me.
I realized that I liked thinking that on some level Vern had been my friend and that he had genuinely wanted to look out for me. I realized that something about me really cherished that memory. And that, despite my nasty but truthful comments about his fatal flaws of vanity, narcissism, bigotry, and small town small mindedness, I really thought this guy and I had a friendship at one point. I liked thinking that someone was watching over me. Just like the old song. Some feminist I am.
So, I thought about it some more, and then I thought, well, I could “settle” this once and for all (not really; I mean, you never really know if someone is telling you the truth or not) by contacting Vern and allowing him to respond with his side of the story. Naturally, I did not tell him that I had written an uncomplimentary essay about something he did nearly twenty years ago and published it on the internet. Let’s keep that secret just between us guys and gals.
How did I go about performing this feat of achievement? Why, with Facebook, of course. It’s easy to find Vern on Facebook. You just type Vern and then Smalltown, Oklahoma, and he pops up. Amazing. And then you can email some guy who tried to get into your pants nearly twenty years ago. Gotta love the internet.
So, of course, I sent off my pissy email. And basically, it went something like how’s your kid and the wife, and by the way, did you really think your friends wouldn’t tell on you? That’s a really great way to contact someone you haven’t seen or heard from in years. I recommend that everyone show such discretion and judgment.
He responds with two emails. The first one is one where he says, basically, I’m not sure if I know you, but didn’t we work together at the physical plant at State Mental Hospital University? The second response, about four minutes later includes an apology in advance. It reads basically that he did a lot of stupid stuff in college, not all of which he could possibly remember but that if he ever at any time hurt my feelings that would really upset him. Also, he tells me he has a seventeen year old son and that he and his wife have been divorced for thirteen years now.
A sane woman receiving this response would probably just think, yay, I got my apology, but no! I have never claimed to be sane. I email him back, mostly smarting because he pretended not to remember me. Bullshit; I knew he remembered me! And that basically made me go all passive aggressive on his ass, by telling him that I would hardly say that he hurt me since that’s really making a bigger deal out of the situation than it was but that I think he’s a jerk because he tried to get in my pants when he had a fiancée and a baby on the way, and what’s more he made a bet about it with his friends.
I don’t ask him what happened. I just go right ahead and accuse him. I also recommend this tactic. Be pissy and make accusations and then fly off the handle with resentment because someone who hasn’t seen you in nearly twenty years might want to ask where they remember you from. I should teach a class in conflict management.
If I haven’t made enough of an ass of myself yet, did I mention that I also told him that he was full of himself and then added that I’ve met bigger jerks than him since then? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, a proud moment. Jesus is smiling down on me from heaven. I didn’t come across as bitter, not at all.
Vern responds with a book. I mean the email practically had diagrams and everything. The friend (let’s call him Ernest (an Oklahoma joke for those in the know)) that I got my wild accusation from about the bet, because come to think of it, it was just the one guy, turns out that he and Vern aren’t buddies anymore. And according to Vern this guy used to make up stories about him because he was jealous. Okay. That’s plausible.
Then he gives me a timeline of he and his ex-wife’s courtship. This includes the date of the original breakup, after which he would’ve been free to screw around, so to speak. He admits to being promiscuous but says he’s not proud of it. He then tells me when he and the girlfriend started dating again, and it was, lo and behold, the same month he graduated, the one when I turned 21, and it is not just plausible but in fact likely that he might not have even been together with her on my 21st birthday. They didn’t conceive their son until October of that year. The wedding was in January of the next year, and the kid was born in July. So, hmm, the timing for my version of events is all wrong.
He then goes on to say that he admits to using poor judgment in waiting until the last minute to make a move and that he thought about it often over the years and regretted how it probably made me feel. He swears on his Father’s grave (I’m not making this up, just reporting the facts) that there was never any bet.
Then he goes on to talk about how he’s been raising his son alone as a single parent and that he doesn’t date or “chase tail” and that his kid is an honor student who’s graduating in the spring with a full ride scholarship for vocal music and drama. Huh? A son in musical comedy? Vern? Didn’t you make him play football? He tops that off with saying that he’s raised his son “not to be like me.” What was that I said about small town small mindedness? Pass the honey mustard.
He apologizes again, even though, at this point I think we all know who the ass is in this scenario. He tells me he had a crush on me and liked me because I was sweet and attractive and yes, he wanted to have sex with me because he genuinely liked me. I admit. It’s a novel concept, but sometimes people want to have sex with someone because they find the other person attractive and they like the other person.
So, now I have a dilemma. I can either choose to believe the story I originally believed, or given that his explanation is plausible and his explained motivation the simpler of the two possibilities, I can choose to believe Vern, or, well, at least give him the benefit of the doubt. So, I apologize. I tell him that I’ve been unforgivably rude, and that the truth about a bet or no bet is ultimately between him and God, and he shouldn’t really give a damn what I believe.
And then the emails fly back and forth, and we have a nice flirty time on memory lane where I fish for compliments about how hot I was back in the day, and I think I’ve been somewhat unfair to this guy over the years. Maybe very unfair. I don’t trust him entirely, but I do know which version of the story I prefer. Not enough to want to pursue something with him, although he left the door wide open for that and told me he’d love to buy me dinner to make it up to me. I got the last email at noon today. I won’t respond this time, but it started off with this sentence, “I did like to look after you and make sure you were safe.” Is it a line? Yeah, but I liked it just the same.