In an unconscious way, I seemed to encourage people to confide in me. I’d always delighted in asking folks questions. Could I help it if they answered me? Recently, I’ve heard three doozies. See links below for all 3.
These three unsolicited revelations shocked me and caught me delightfully unaware each time. But, upon reflection, I admitted to myself, when I first met someone, after I’d established an initial rapport, I felt free to ask questions about their children, parents, where they lived. And maybe they intuitively knew how much I would savor their delectable details...
#1 – Artsy Abstract
Giving tours at a local art museum one day, I had a middle-aged woman as my sole customer. She loved art and dressed like an abstract painting in a black and white sheath with interlocking rectangular designs. Her umbrella completed the look with contrasting monochrome triangles. For part of the tour, we ventured into the misty historical Japanese gardens. She seemed thrilled by the art, so buoyant, I wouldn’t have been surprised if the umbrella lifted her into the air. As she fumbled with her phone, she excitedly explained to me, while she dialed, she wanted her husband to join her, so she could share the joy with him.
I heard his loud voice sputtering with annoyance at the $25 Uber ride he would need, as he declined. Her body sagged, but, as we relished more art, her vibrancy returned. Near the end of the tour, she turned to me and blurted, out of the blue, “I’ve had two affairs.”
“Huh?” I replied.
“Yes, two. The first one…” She proceeded to outline the details. Once she became intimate with a fellow, she demanded terms: $5000 per month and a leased car. Her story made me wonder why I had never thought to request a salary and a car from any of my boyfriends in the past. The first guy acquiesced and they lasted about six months, then had an amicable break-up when he moved away.
The second man settled with her for $4000 per month and a car. But, he became too demanding, she explained, not allowing her to spend time with her girlfriends.
Meanwhile, my internal combustion engine overheated with consternation. As a faithful former wife, I choked down indignation while, at the same time, I found myself titillated by her adventurous and entrepreneurial spirit. I wanted to hear more. But my polite docent role forbade me from exclaiming that Lover #2 had a point. Paying $4000 a month for her favors might mean he wanted his money’s worth. And, by the way, what about all the lying to her husband? How could she manage the daily juggling and explain away a new car? In reality, my responses consisted of, “Oh” and “Really?” and “Good Lord.”
Like a waitress in a restaurant, I stifled personal opinions to be a good representative of my company, the museum. Perhaps my neutrality fed her need to vent with a seemingly non-judgmental person.