One of my not-so-great talents in life is that I am extremely gullible. It’s probably not very wise of me to advertise this trait on the internet, but for the sake of this post I must share that most things people tell me, I believe. How I managed to work in journalism for several years I cannot and will not explain.
I was reminded of this tendency today by my friend and colleague J, as I told her and A about my new low, as of this morning, in gym reading material: Star magazine.
“Isn’t that the one that has stuff about space aliens and UFO’s taking over Hollywood?” she asked.
“That’s what I thought, too!” I replied, going on to explain that despite these associations, Star actually struck me as no more absurd than US Weekly, my usual grocery line tabloid of choice. And with an equally, if not more extensive selection of celebrity photos in the “stars! they’re just like us!” vein–which I think we can all agree is the highlight of US Weekly indulgence. (I mean, come on: who doesn’t like a picture of Reese Witherspoon pushing a grocery cart?)
I then told the two of them about the reason I’d brought up the magazine in the first place: a feature about Sandra Bullock and Jesse James. Old news, I know. (Not as old, however, as the copy of Gourmet that I picked up at the gym a few weeks ago–from 2002. Newsflash: if anyone has some extra cash burning a hole in their proverbial pocket, UNM could use it.)
Anyhow, according to this feature–of which I, of course, believed every word–Bullock may have found out about James’ affairs through the media, but she made a discovery of her own when she “accidentally” took his computer instead of hers as she left the house (ok, that’s a little weird) and came upon a trove of lewd videos implicating him in numerous, dubious sexual activities.
I relayed this reliable info to J and A. “Can you imagine finding that stuff about someone you thought you knew?” I asked.
“Oh, like she didn’t know,” J dismissed me immediately.
“Really?” I asked. “You think she knew about his affairs?”
“Of course she did. How could she not have known?”
“But what about Tiger Woods’ wife,” I countered. “Do you think she knew too?”
This had not occurred to me. Call me naive, but I tend to assume that if a woman knows her husband has more than a dozen mistresses, she might consider leaving him.
Then again, I can understand the other assumption: that a man with more than a dozen mistresses would be hard-pressed not to leave some tracks.
The answer, I think, has got to be somwhere in the middle. Probably these women knew–or could have known–that their husbands were up to something. Probably they didn’t know the full extent of it.
But certainly–whether they did or didn’t–they didn’t want to know. And we can all attest that keeping ourselves from information we don’t like can be remarkably easy. In other words, the power of denial.
I am still fascinated, though, by the notion of a person leading a double life. Of presenting themselves one way to one person, or group of people, and completely differently to others.
As I discussed with another friend this afternoon, to a certain extent it’s something everyone does. All of us alter our behavior depending on the context, and act a certain way with one person that we would not with another. The implications might not be so serious as with those men who serially cheat, but all of us have done or said things to people that we would probably be loathe for another audience to hear. We all play roles with the people in our lives.
And especially in romantic relationships, the desire to believe that someone is who you want them to be is so strong that it makes sense how one could stay blind to whatever side of them betrays that idea.
But still: to discover that someone you think you know has been behaving in a way you cannot possibly have imagined–even if you probably should have been able to–is something with which I fully sympathize.
And as A said, it’s something that happens all the time. I just hope, not to anyone I know.