|A bookshelf of stories from a friend's house.|
I guess the more we like to tell a good story of an event from our life we tend to embellish or maybe just exaggerate a little because we have told the story so many times before and we want it to have a better edge? If we do that enough, then the story may change substantially in our own mind. But what if the story is not that old? What about omissions to the story?
We had been invited to lunch recently. This was by a couple I had never met and they lived about 40 minutes from our house. When I asked Hubby why and what was going on his response was that "I had met the man at the community pool the last time I went up to swim(!). He found we had so much in common that we were invited to lunch."
We get to the house, which has a lovely spreading view of a river, and when the door is open a lovely, very thin, lady with dark Spanish eyes and bold dangly earrings welcomes us in. The home is warm and inviting and there are nice smells coming from the range. We introduce ourselves and I meet the husband who is of average looks, average build, and above average intelligence. We learn over a glass of Spanish rose that she is from Columbia and this is a second marriage for both of them. (They met via computer.) We, of course, do not get into what tragedies brought about the dissolution of both marriages. He is retired Navy and she has worked on nutrition programs for USAID in her past.
Another couple arrives in leather jackets and pants via a very expensive looking motorcycle that can carry home the groceries if needed. The man is a retired Navy pilot and the wife is currently working in intelligence data for defense, both in their late 50's or early 60's.
I finally ask as we sit down to eat why the retired Navy pilot had been so brave as to invite to lunch someone he just met at a community pool? His wife is laughing because she agrees with me. This is when I get the other version of the story.
He begins with:
"Well, at first I was not too sure about J. As I was leaning against the wall of the pool he walked up to me and asked if I had an extra swimsuit because he had forgotten to pack his. I didn't. Then after my swim, I saw him working out in the gym and we headed to the showers together and got talking. We found we had a lot in common."
I think I can safely say that most of us found this story a bit jaw-dropping. I am not as surprised as you are that my husband asked if the man had an extra suit. My husband is an only child and the most honest and trusting person even at his old age. (My daughter was shocked when I told her the story.) The fact that my husband left out this important point shows somewhat how we skew stories.
Now for another story. I was listening to Malcolm Gladwell's podcast (which can be heard here) that explains how stories by honest and intelligent people can be so strange or contradicting. Listen to Episode 3 and Episode 4 from season 3 for the background on this storytelling thing. Malcolm Gladwell has a compelling voice and really good episodes....go ahead and listen...40 minutes long and 37 minutes long...I will wait.
Then my next post will be the story my husband and I tell about how we met and a revisionist ( more boring) version.