Sue will be our illustrious guest blogger in January. In response to my plea for an introduction, here’s what she wrote:
“I can’t thnk of an intro right now because I just saw ‘Enchanted’ and I’m too busy twirling around the living room pretending I’m Giselle to worry about telling you who I am in real life, although if you want, you can read about it over on my blog, Navel Gazing at its Finest, where talking about myself is one of my favorite past-times. Basically I’m a mom of three, wife of one, and not at all sure the kind ladies at Segullah knew what they were getting into when they asked me to guest post this month.”
Welcome! And I surely hope we DON’T know what we’re getting into. It’s so much more fun that way.
At a Saturday night dance the spring I turned fifteen, I somehow ended up talking to THAT guy. You know the one ”“ football player, extremely cute, very popular. Way out of my dating league, not that I was dating. Truth be told, I was so young for my age, and so gullible, so just plain DUMB ”“ that I almost have to wonder why my parents ever let me out of the house.
For some reason I couldn’t fathom, he took a decided interest in me that night. Larry danced with me, told me I was cute, told me he really liked me. I was almost floating. He drove me home – almost all the way to my house, where he stopped the car, took my hand and asked me if I wanted to take a walk with him. We walked down the street and he told me how much he liked me and gave me a kiss (well, more like a SERIES of kisses) and then eventually, veeeery eventually, I went home. I was happy. It seemed far too good to be true.
It was. The next day he wouldn’t call me back. My best friend’s boyfriend Wayne told me that he and Larry had a bet going on to see how many girls he could kiss in one night, and I was girl number five. But Wayne told me I should be proud, because I’d taken a lot longer to give in than some of the other girls, and that “was cool.” But Larry didn’t like me. And he wasn’t going to call.
It had been my first kiss. I was crushed.
When I was in my early twenties, I was involved in an exhausting on-again off-again relationship with a guy who I’ll call Steve (even though he was SO not a Steve). He was wearing me out with his inability to just decide what he wanted already, and one Friday night I’d had enough. I was done. Done, done, done, done, done. DONE.
Our whole crowd, Steve included, went to the lake for a barbecue/bonfire. He was going because I was going and he wanted to show me he was through with me, and I was going because “I’m not gonna not go just because he’s going.” CLEARLY, we were over each other. (Yes, that’s sarcasm.)
At the lake I spotted a guy I vaguely knew from church, a tall, cute guy with “I can make Steve jealous” written all over him, and I wandered over and plopped down next to him. His name was Mike. I didn’t know much about him except that he was incredibly charming and from Texas. Usually I distrusted guys who were slick, but my heart was already wrapped up in someone else and wasn’t anywhere near being in danger, so I sat and talked to Mike by the fire for a long time.
He’d just lost his father, and so had I. I almost forgot about Steve as we talked about our losses, compared notes and bonded a little. For a few minutes I thought, hey, I could actually be friends with this guy. But a little while later he started the full court press. He told me he thought I was pretty and talented and absolutely fascinating. He loved the song I’d sung in church the last Sunday and wouldn’t you know it – he’d been meaning to ask me out for a long time, because he really liked me, and he wanted nothing more in the world than to go for a walk with me on the beach in the moonlight. He was so transparent he was practically invisible.
Luckily, a minute later I saw Steve stalking away from the group toward his car (in what turned out to be a bit of a jealous rage ”“ oh, the drama”¦) and I excused myself. Mike didn’t care. He found other ways to occupy his time, namely with my best friend Heather.
He kissed her that night, and she let him, and you know, that happens sometimes, and sometimes (whether we like to admit it in the church or not) it’s even fun and harmless. Not this time. Mike went on and on and on about how much he liked her. He’d liked her for a long time. She was exactly the kind of girl he’d always wanted. In fact, he thought she was the type of girl he’d like to marry. So they got together the next day, and the next and the next. Heather was practically flying, she was so happy. When I suggested that perhaps she shouldn’t trust him, she was offended and stopped talking to me for a week.
Not surprisingly, within another week or two, we found out he was doing the same thing at the same time with other girls. I was furious with him. I drove across town, banged on the door of his apartment until he answered, and told him off for a solid twenty minutes while his roommates watched, slack-jawed. We argued. He thought he was fine because he’d only kissed her. It wasn’t like he’d had SEX with her and then broken up with her or something. It was just kissing. It was all in good fun.
Except it wasn’t. He simply couldn’t understand my point. It wasn’t the kissing that was the problem. It had nothing to do with whether or not they’d had sex. It was how he had lied to her, preyed upon her feelings and encouraged them all for his own amusement. He’d made her feel worthless. It was vile. And he was wrong. But he couldn’t see it. In fact, he thought I was very uncool for making such a big deal about it, and he spread the word at church that I was crazy and unstable.
A few weeks later, he was engaged to a girl who he presumably valued a little more. He got married in the temple, and I thought ”“ there’s something wrong with that. I couldn’t understand how someone could treat so many girls so horribly, be so completely lacking in respect and empathy and honesty and still feel good enough about himself to get married in the temple a couple of months later.
Now and then I think about Mike and Larry, and I wonder who they became. Did they grow up and change and become more compassionate, empathetic adults? Or are they still thinking only of what they want, valuing only what directly affects them? Is Larry the dad who defends his son, even though he knows his son is the school bully? Is Mike the guy who cheers his kid on when he’s breaking hearts left and right, because “boys will be boys?” Or did they both grow up and realize that kindness matters?
I look at my adorable son, with his huge green eyes, and long eyelashes, and I can tell he’s going to be a heartbreaker someday. It scares me a little, thinking about how much I want to teach him, and how unequal to that task I feel. I want to teach him empathy. I want to teach him kindness. I hope he’ll understand that dishonesty is more than telling lies, that our actions can make us dishonest, even when our words won’t convict us.
Someday, when he’s sitting in a car with some girl, I hope he’ll be the kind of guy who is kind, and compassionate, and I hope he’ll be careful with her heart, even if he doesn’t love her. Because how he treats that girl will affect more than just the girl. It will affect everyone who tries to love the girl in the future, and it will affect everyone who that girl loves.
Kindness matters. I hope I can help him to understand how much.