Friday, January 8, 2010


So, a couple nights ago, I was passing the time (or wasting time, depending on your world view) by listening to a friend tell a juicy story about how someone had deeply offended her. She was in full on gossip mode, giving it her all, doing the voices of each character and hitting the intonations of the person-in-question perfectly. I was hooked. The drama between her and this person involved me, but only in a very peripheral way, and I was succumbing to the utterly human temptation to gawk at a car accident.

[That's a gross truth, isn't it? How human beings tend to be fascinated by the tragedy of others? I mean, if you've ever been stuck in traffic outside of normal rush hour time, you can almost be sure it's because there's some wreck a mile or two up the highway. And 50% of the time, the wreck is on the other side of the road, and the only reason cars are backed up is because people are slowing down to gawk.]

Anyway, I was gawking. My story-telling friend (let's call her X) had me hooked. I was on her side all the way, rooting for her, looking down my nose at the other person (let's call him Y). She gave me a specific example of Y's insolence, and i almost snorted. "Figures," I thought. "Sounds just like something Y would do." Satisfied with my reaction, X brought her story to a close and walked away.

Just then, another friend, who had been floating in and out of the conversation (let's call her Z), turned my world upside down in one sentence. She had been there for the entirety of the aforementioned car accident, had watched it happen in real time, and she said, "The only reason Y did what he did was because X did this to him first."

Oh. Um, wow. Oops.

My feelings of superiority and smugness that had been directed at Y mere moments ago just melted away, and I was left feeling like a complete fool. If Z hadn't chimed in and told me what actually happened, from an unbiased outsider's perspective, I would have left that evening believing Y to be the enemy when in fact, neither X nor Y are the enemy. For that matter, neither is Z - her version of what happened that night probably differs slightly from any other outsider. Each version is crafted by an intricate mind, and each brain works in different ways and is encased in different packaging.

And maybe sometimes these minds, that work so differently and perceive the world in such different ways, maybe sometimes these minds don't quite see eye to eye.

Anyway, whatever. My point? The number of sides to a story is equal to the number of people involved.