March 22, 2001
Don’t Trust Me
Darryl is a louse. He is a despicable person and if he treated me the way he treats women, I'm sure we wouldn't remain friends for long. He is dishonest, unfaithful, and utterly untrustworthy, but only in the ways of (what passes for) romance. He called me up the other day because his conscience was bothering him and he needed to justify his actions to someone. This was not "Oh, what a tangled web we weave"; no mea culpa coming from Darryl. He wasn't seeking my input on how to be a better man. He's way beyond help there. He wanted me to make him feel better for being a stinker.
His story: "I was seeing two women at the time. Well, four, actually, but it depends on how you count. It all started a few weeks ago when one of them caught me in a misdirection. A little white lie. There, I said it: A Lie. Actually, she found a clue. Someone else's toothbrush. Not mine. Not hers. Someone else's. My Friday night."
If the Nixon administration taught us nothing else, I think the lesson learned was this: Destroy the evidence.
On further investigation, she didn't just find the telltale toothbrush, she used it and then figured out what was going on. She caught him more or less red-handed, confronted him with the damning forensic evidence, and he admitted everything. I'm not taking sides, but I felt his pain. Consider: It's Sunday morning, your new girlfriend comes out of the bathroom holding the smoking toothbrush in her hand and, sadly, you don't have Barry Scheck's phone number handy to help prepare a defense.
Later, when the wronged woman called him on the carpet for his behavior during their brief, tumultuous courtship, she said that the worst part of it -- and believe me, she had quite a list of grievances for knowing the guy only three weeks -- was that she trusted him. In exchange, he broke her heart in 17 places.
"Why on earth would anyone trust you, Darryl?" I asked.
"Because I told her she could trust me. I really did like her," he said, enumerating her virtues, "and I was really, really nice to her, except of course, the part about running around on her. For which, I should add, I'm really sorry." He's sorry she found out is more like it. That's one of those apologies that always follows the getting caught. The Clinton brand of I'm-sorry-you-had-to-know-about-this apology.
"What she suggested in that break-up call is that I should, in the future, going forward, tell anyone I happen to con into a relationship that they can't trust me. What I should say is, 'Don't trust me.'"
I said he should get some business cards printed up or maybe a tattoo over the place where his heart ought to be.
"Yes, I was deceptive. Yes, I misled her. Yes, I concealed the truth about the other women. Is that so wrong? I mean, if anyone had told me that lying to your lover about having another woman on the side was just plain wrong, I never would have gone down that road. Excuse me, but I thought the polite thing, the civilized thing to do, what you were supposed to do, was keep those things under wraps, lie your tuchis off."
I admit the guy is icky, but he has a point. I used to date a woman who told me that she would want me to tell her if I was having an affair. I asked what she would do if I told her I was cheating on her. "Leave you," she said.
Oh, fine. That's just perfect. There's an incentive if I ever heard one. I make one terrible mistake and then try to do the right thing, I tell the truth for once in my miserable life, just like she asked me to, and she's out the door. "Thank you for that heartfelt confession, Jeff, but I really must be going." Where's the love? Where's the understanding? Where's the forgiveness? Huh?
"No," Darryl said, "I think the right thing to do is to tell the people what they want to hear. George W. Bush did it and look where it got him, ferchrissakes! All the way to the White House! Keep the customer satisfied, that's what I say. If you want to trust me, I say, 'You can trust me.'"
I'm not trying to make light of the situation, really I'm not, but we can't take him out and stone him in the public square for lying to his now ex-girlfriend. To some degree, all romance is about creating an illusion and placing your trust in someone you think you know pretty well. Maybe he'll meet someone new, fall in love, change his cheating ways, and make a decision to lead a life of virtue and fidelity. We can only hope. I suppose the leopard thinks: I would love to change my spots, if only I could find the right girl.