Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Betrayal Thursday

Catchy title isn't it? It is time once more for Mama Kat's writer's challenge. The prompts this week are:
  1. Describe a moment when you realized you and your spouse were SO different.
  2. What is your role in the household?
  3. Write about how you felt when you discovered you were lied to.
  4. Describe a hard time you gave a teacher...what would you say to them today?
  5. What is an unpleasant experience you had eating? Write a poem, paragraph, or something else about the experience.

This is a tough group of topics, but here goes.

Number 1 is hard since I don't remember that there has ever been a time that I felt that L and I were that different. Call it a poor memory from getting old, acceptance after 33+ years of marriage, or just plain not being observant, but I really don't think that L and I are all that different. There are a number topics we hold very different views on and there are an uncountable number of things that we value differently in our lives, but those are mostly minor quibbles compared to the big things. Those are the differences that add spice to life and make it worth living. I can think of nothing more boring than a world where everyone was identical. Sounds a lot like parts of Dante's vision of Hell.

Number 2 is hard becuase the role is subject to change on spur of the moment. L and I have always been pretty fluid about who does what, which makes the roles a bit fuzzy. I was the one that stayed home with the Son early on because I could shift my hours around to work with a nanny (Hi Lynne!) where as L needed to be on the road. I cook, L cooks, I clean, L cleans ... The only real defined role is that I get stuck with the lawn mowing and L with the flower beds.

Number 3 has a quick answer: It all depends! You don't survive long in politics without discovering that there is a certain percentage of people who lie compulsively, especially if it is to their personal advantage. You also discover that there are people who will tell you a bald faced lie to your face while stabbing you, and not just in the back either.

Before I became mayor, I handled the issue in a simple manner. I gave everyone the benefit of doubt and believed them. If it turned out they were untruthful, that was generally the last conversation they ever had with me. It worked well as a personal policy. Since I have been mayor, that is not a feasible policy. So instead I have to apply all that I know and all that I can find out to determine the veracity of what I am told and then act accordingly. It is a more challenging policy to execute, but I can't picture any other way you could effectively represent the spectrum of truthfulness found in the electorate. Just because someone is lying doesn't mean that they might not have an important point to consider. Likewise, just because someone is telling the truth doesn't mean that it wasn't a waste of perfectly good time to listen to them. Oh well.

You'll note that I have thus far avoided answering the actual question of how I felt when I discovered someone was lying to me. And that is because it really does depend on the circumstances. The amount of pain and angst is usually directly proportional to the personal emotional investment I have in the statement. If it is someone I love and trust and/or the topic is very important to me, then my reaction upon being lied to is usually emotional hurt and pain followed by anger. Then with the passage of time, forgiveness usually enters the picture. If it is someone with no close ties to me, the reaction is usually amusement of some form. After all, if you are going to tell me lies, at least make it something that I can't tell is a lie. Otherwise it is purely entertainment and I treat it as such. (Has this been clear as mud to you too?)

Number 4 is too easy. I gave most of my teachers a hard time unintentionally. Because I was very bright and was earmarked by the IQ tests of the era as being extremely bright, teachers often arrived at class already intimidated. I had one psychology instructor who bordered on abusive in how he singled me out, because, as he put it, I was the one chance he would have in his career to examine anyone with an IQ that high. This was said in front of the whole class, so you can imagine how popular that made me. {*grin*} One of the joys of college for me was teachers that treated me as a peer and equal rather than some circus freak for being bright.

I didn't understand how miserable I made some of my teachers until recently. I was talking to the daughter of a late high school teacher at a memorial event and she immediately lit up when she heard my name. She remembered me because her father would come home and spend hours every night reading and studying so that he could try to keep up with the pace of questions I would have in class and the leaps of intuition as I tried to understand at a deeper level (her father taught chemistry to me). She also remembered that her father would  talk at supper each night about the questions I had asked that day and how he could find no answers for many of them. He was very relieved when I stopped taking high school classes and went to the local college for the rest of my curriculum. I think what ate at him the most was that he was also the athletic director of the school and so wanted me there to play football, but at the same time my presence in his class was making his life a living hell (mainly because he was too dedicated to simply brush me off and was unwilling to do a bad job of teaching).

Number 5 is interesting if only because it was a result of my not listening to sane words of advice. The background: When L and I lived in LA, I lived half time in LA and half time in New York for a period. I kept an apartment in Manhattan, so I'd fly in Sunday night, get settled in, and be set for the next week or two. When you commute back and forth like that, people to go out with and eat at restaurants with are a precious commodity, especially those not connected in any way to work. A good friend from college, David, introduced me to a friend of his wife that lived in the city and who was also a fanatical science fiction reader like me. Her name was Celeste. Celeste and I would meet up about once a month to go out and eat and discuss what we had read and what we were looking forward to reading. This went on for several years and we ate at a variety of restaurants all over Manhattan. One of the reasons for the varied restaurants was the fact that Celeste was a strict vegan and I am more a meat and potatoes kind of guy. So finding a place where we both found food of interest could be challenging. Finally, the inevitable happened and Celeste invited me over to her apartment for a "home cooked" meal.

Now you need to know that when David had introduced me to Celeste, he had warned me that I should *never* eat at her place. No explanation, just don't go there to eat. Of course the warning had slipped my mind by this point and I was looking forward to the event. It had been weeks since I had been back to LA. and the idea of home cooking sounded good. The fateful evening came and the meal began with a really tasty salad. I'm a salad lover anyway, but this was spectacularly good. I was now really excited to see what would be next. The mystery platter that was the main course arrived and looked good. Then the odor hit. It made a feedlot right after a rain storm smell good. But I have had some food that smelled horrible and tasted really good, so was still game. Then I took a bite and had to struggle mightily not to gag or spit it out accross the table. Whatever the stuff was, it tasted just like cowshit! (Spend time around a cattle operation and you'll know precisely what cowshit tastes like. This stuff was the real thing!) Needless to say, I tried to be polite but avoid any more of the stuff. The rest of the evening is lost in my memories of trying to shove the stuff around my plate without being too obvious that no more was actually entering my mouth. At the conclusion of the evening, I had the taxi home stop at the nearest fast food joint to get a burger and fries and forget the lingering taste of cowshit.

The next day I called David up and informed him that I made the mistake of eating at Celeste's. He immediately broke out laughing and asked me if she served the cowshit. I asked him how he knew about that and what it tasted like. He asked me if I remembered the warning he had given me when he introduced us.  He said that was why he had warned me not to eat at Celeste's. He had been through a similar experience when his wife had first introduced him to Celeste. It seemed she served it to anyone she wanted to impress. And the only people she invirted to her place to eat were people she wanted to impress. It certainly left a lasting impression on me! So I'll close this post with the sage words of advice I should have heeded: Don't eat at Celeste's!


  1. lmao! If I ever meet a Celeste...I will be sure to never eat at her place. I have no desire to savor the taste of cow dung. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. And #3 left me dizzy. You sure are a politician. You circled around the answer spiraling towards the answer. Then again. You actually did answer it. Extra points for you!

    Please don't take it as an insult!

  3. Good prompt responses. I can't imagine the lying one with your job, it would be hard to weed people out without calling them out for lying.
    I love the last one. I can promise I will never eat at Celeste's! :)

  4. I actually think it's kind of cool that you were a challenge to your teachers.

    I wonder if it really was cowshit you were eating at Celeste's.

  5. Did you ever figure out what you were eating?? Great responses!!

  6. Hmm... teachers always picked on me, but I'm not sure it was because of my intelligence. I think I'll start telling myself that, though. It's better to believe that than the fact that they just didn't like me. :)

  7. Ewww. Yuck! Is that what you really ate?

    I guess that wouldn't be much worse than if my husband had served me the hermit crabs. :)

  8. Ewwwww! Poor Celeste. Someone should tell her not to try so hard to impress folks... cuz her method stinks! LOL

  9. I just found your blog through another blogger and wanted to stop by to say hello. What a great place you have here. I'll be back to read more!

  10. If I ever meet anyone named Celeste and they invite me to dinner (even if I'm pretty sure they are not the same one), I am going to decline. And what was it really? Do you know?

    And I feel for your poor teacher ... but what a great teacher he was to try and keep up with you!

  11. #3 - spoken like a true politican (or lawyer)... begin with "it depends" and end with carefully evading the true answer to the question. well done

  12. Too funny. I encounter enough cow shit to never feel the burning desire to ingest it.
    Great story!

  13. Visiting from the writer's workshop.

    So ... I guess you never did find out what that food actually was! It makes for a good story, though.

    I think it's nice you had a teacher who was willing to try to teach you. That's a good teacher.

  14. LOVE the story about the dinner at Celeste's, did you ever find out EXACTLY what it was she served?

  15. crazy way to impress people, but certainly left an impression!

  16. Great story about the teachers! We do remember a couple of you. And... it is not the suck ups.


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