last January, i went out with a guy who told me about his post-college European adventure. while backpacking, he and a friend ended up in a terrible apartment in Rome. they’d agreed to stay four or five nights, but by the end of the second, it was unbearable.
so they fled.
just packed their gear and bolted. on their way to the train station they even walked by the apartment manager. looked him in the eye and waved. as soon as they turned the next corner, they sprinted to the ticket window.
did you pay for the nights you stayed? i asked, and nearly choked when he shook his head.
then i judged him. harshly. he’s showing you who he is. a coward. a sneaky, dishonest creep.
this is such a moot issue. i never saw the guy again, maybe because i tensed up after this story, unable to move beyond the misdeed his 22-year-old self committed more than a decade earlier. my critiques fell into three categories:
first, the ethical breech, “why on earth would you do that?”
followed by rationalizing, “at least pay for what you used.”
and finally, his disregard for the dating code of conduct, “why tell a girl you just met? first dates are lying contests!”
if i did anything similar i’d hide under the covers and admit my shameful story through the protection of my comforter, which would serve as a cozy, homemade confessional. but not everyone is as withholding and riddled with guilt about moral shortcomings.
maybe his true essence is lying, stealing you-know-what, blissfully unconcerned with how he’s seen or what anyone thinks. maybe telling the story was an act of ego, pride, or general desire to be seen as a badass. maybe he planned to omit that detail but it slipped out unintentionally.
as i said, that was a year ago. but apparently it’s been floating through my memory since it resurfaced 365 days later. recently i had a softer interpretation. perhaps it was an attempt at closeness. like, look, an imperfection! will you still be mine?
what if we’re all just trying to be loved? to show our true selves and admit, this is the real me, even though it’s a first date. i’m honest about my dishonesty. can you deal?
it took me an entire year to see the real point: he's irrelevant. my recoil highlights my guardedness. it's worth investigating why people need the jaws of life to pry unsavory information from me.
i'm exaggerating. a little. we're constantly evolving and i'm more open than i was a year ago. but still, it's worth considering.
again, and all the damn time: it's all about you, but not how you think.
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