Monday, April 6, 2015

Two Faced

In the 9th grade, I was “going steady” with a boy who attended the same Catholic Church and school as I did. We had known each other most of our lives, but we didn’t “notice” each other until the seventh grade and started “going around” in the 8th grade.  This was the 1960’s – before smart phones, iPods, and the Kardashians – so we hardly talked or did much of anything else.
Every Sunday, the families in our church sat in the same pews, so it was easy to see who was there and who wasn’t.  After the service, the kids gathered in the courtyard on the church grounds and we talked while our parents visited with each other.  This one Sunday, my boyfriend wasn’t there, so when I walked over to our crowd of friends, one of the girls asked about him.  I meant to sound “cool,” but instead I said something cruel, something I have never been able to take back. 
I said, “I know he always follows me around like a lost puppy, but I am not his trainer.” I even smirked.
Instead of laughing, the girl’s eyes focused on someone behind me and they widened in shock.  I turned around expecting to find that my parents had overheard my sassy comment, but instead there stood my boyfriend. He must have been somewhere in the church where I couldn’t see him and was about to tap me on the shoulder and surprise me.  His smile turned to disgust and his raised hand dropped to his side. He turned and walked away. 
We were never friends again.  Whenever I ran into him I tried to talk to him.  I wanted to tell him how terribly sorry I was, but he and I went to separate high schools and separate colleges and he avoided me at church.  Fifteen years later, when I went back to university to get my master’s degree, he was there too, but the moment he saw me, his demeanor changed and he looked right through me.  He always walked away.
That incident taught me a huge lesson about being two faced.   
I know too many people who pretend to like others.  They smile and chummy up to each other.  Sometimes it is to gain favor and use the other’s friendship or position; sometimes their pretense is nothing more than cowardice or arrogance.  Two-faced people think they are superior; they lie to themselves and they are more than glad to lie about others. 
They covet what others have or they want to be coveted, believing themselves to be better. They talk about others, stealing or degrading another person’s reputation in order to make themselves sound blameless.  Two-faced people are pretentious, envious, dishonorable thieves.  They are unworthy opponents and unworthy of anyone’s friendship. They do not deserve trust or respect.  
That fifteen-year-old girl I once was never intended to hurt that boy’s feelings.  I really liked him, but that terrible incident forced me to look at myself and I didn’t like what I saw. 
I have come to prefer the truth.  I prefer honesty to lies.  I can live without false friendships because I have true ones.  I can get along with what I call “acquaintances,” people who I do not like but who I need in my circle.

          PS:  I Googled him not too long ago.  He retired recently from an amazing career. I don’t know if we would recognize each other since that incident happened fifty years ago, but given the opportunity, I would still offer him my apology.  

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