The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Flashback Friday!

You know what? I've been so lax with these that I was sitting around Thursday afternoon and it kind of hit me that I really needed to do a Flashback Friday!, and I couldn't remember the last time I did one.


That's bad. Although, at least you're not being forced to read them. So that's a good thing, right? Work with me here, people!

This week's vignette is one from my young and carefree days. Yep. Exaaaaactly that long ago. And it's about my uncanny ability to tell the future! Before you start in on me, it doesn't always work.

Our story begins with me and my ex (the Baron) spending a summer day on a motorcycle ride. I was 21 at the time and we had been imbibing on a little marijuana (which I was known to do back then) that day. It was gorgeous outside and Baron and I were enjoying the day.

We'd been riding for a bit when he asked me if I'd ever been to Garden Court. At the time, the property was owned by the local university and it was home to a mansion and a lovely garden. As I hadn't been there, and as he'd wanted to share it with me, we motored on over on the old Kawasaki he bought shortly after he and I started dating.

When we arrived, we parked the bike and were going to walk around the garden and check it out. After all, it was a lovely day.

Upon entering the garden, there was a brick half wall that surrounded the entire area. To the left, there was a colonnade and beyond that a fountain. Wait. Here's a link. You can see, for yourself, how lovely it is. Just take a look. It's much more impressive than my yard.

As we walked around the garden looking at the various horticulture and fountains, we chatted. There weren't very many people at all visiting the gardens, but still, it seemed all very normal, even given my state. And then...

As we neared the half wall at the far right of the property, someone leapt from behind a bush. Now, I don't use the word 'leapt' with any editorial license at all, the boy sprang, almost cartoonishly, from behind the bush. It was enough to stop Baron and I in our tracks. It would have done so had we not known the boy (which as circumstances played out, we did), but we were most assuredly taken aback by the action. We looked at each other and then at Charlie. Bug-eyed, terror-stricken, red-faced, Charlie.

Charlie was a friend of Baron's. He'd been one of his closest friends for half his life at that point. He, along with Roy (the carpenter), Alphie (the former navy seaman...and yes, there were many, many jokes), and Mack (the student), made up the core group of Baron's closest friends. They were, for the most part, a pretty good bunch of guys. Some of them may feature on another Flashback Friday! sometime in the future...

Now, Charlie was engaged to a sweet girl named Penny. Penny was sweet, and worked as a clerk in a shoe-store, but she was not terribly bright. Big Barry Manilow fan. Need I say more? I didn't think so. Anyway, it hadn't seemed to be an issue for Charlie, as he and Penny had been dating for seven years at that point.

Seven. Years. Which was FOREVER at our ages. They had just bought a house and had set the date and were making plans for the wedding. And they both seemed to be happy.

For the record, Roy was single (and not seeing anyone), Alphie had recently married (but already it wasn't going well and he'd divorce VERY shortly thereafter), and Mack had been dating this very attractive girl (Marla), whom we all got to meet at Alphie's wedding reception (the guys in the group were all drooling, it was a spectacle) and the two of them had just recently moved in together.

So, as we stood there looking at Charlie, the following exchange began...

CHARLIE: HI! (nervously)

BARON: Hi. What's up?

CHARLIE: NOTHING! (still nervous)

BARON: We were just out riding the bike and decided to stop in. SuperFiancee' had never been here before.

CHARLIE: WOW! REALLY? (talking way too loudly and way too quickly)

ME: Yeah. It's really pretty. Is Penny with you?

CHARLIE: NO. NO. Penny had to work today.

And then there was dead silence, as he didn't know what to say and we really wanted to go past him to the wall. As Baron had explained, you could see to the highway in that direction. Charlie had to have sensed that we wanted to go past, but he didn't yield. It was quite strange. And so, Baron proceeded,

BARON: We're gonna look at the highway, Charlie.

As we started around him, some movement to the left registered in my peripheral vision field. There, behind the bush (the one from which Charlie had so recently vaulted), was Marla. I got the distinct impression she hadn't been dressed long, and she bore that same bug-eyed, terror-stricken expression that Charlie had.

Oooooh. This was juicy.


I didn't say anything. Or even grin. We said our 'hello's' and then Charlie began...

CHARLIE: Marla and I just came up here to look around. Since Penny and Mack were both at work and all and we had some free time. Penny knows about it and all.

Uh huh. Purely innocent.

BARON: Sure. Yeah.

Not much more dialogue passed between us, but I was dying to laugh out loud. I'd assumed that Baron would, too, but he didn't even get what was going on.

We finished looking around, said our 'goodbye's' and headed to the parking area. As soon as we got to the motorcycle, I couldn't hold it any longer and doubled over laughing. Baron asked what was so funny. I explained to him what Charlie and Marla had been up to, but he refused to believe it.

"No way! Charlie wouldn't do that!", he said rather emphatically.

"Oh, yes. And I'll guarantee you'll be getting a call from Charlie tonight."

"What? Why?"

"Asking you not to mention what you saw today to Penny." (I dared not explain myself by telling him that I had the power to see into the future.)

"You're too suspicious and always thinking the worst of people."

Baron continued to scoff, but I'm a fairly good judge of character (with a very few notable exceptions), and it was sooooo clear what was going on. Smug in my convictions, we headed back to his place, where I whipped us up some dinner and we hung around with his roommate, Roy.

Now, readers, you are NOT going to believe this, but at about 9:00 there was a knock at the door.

"That's Charlie.", I said. Baron rolled his eyes dismissively, unaware of my newfound ability to foretell the future, and opened the door.

His expression had changed rather dramatically since the last time we'd seen him, several hours earlier, but it was unmistakeably Charlie. Baron bade him enter and then gave me a look. A look that said I should keep my mouth shut. It was completely unnecessary, though, as I was most interested in listening.

Charlie, however, had other ideas. He was interested in a more private discussion with Baron, so they stepped out to the porch.

Where I couldn't hear.


In any event, he didn't stay long and when Baron came back into the house, I asked what Charlie had said.

"He asked me not to say anything about what I'd seen today to Penny."

Imagine that...;)

"And he asked me to ask you not to say anything either."

"Are you?"

"He's my friend."

"So is Penny. And so is Mack. It's not my place, so I won't say anything. You don't have to ask me. On the other hand, you've known Mack as long as you've known Charlie. Longer even. I guess you'll decide how you want to proceed."

Of course, Baron did nothing. I could have foretold that, as well. And within a couple weeks, when Penny found out about the affair elsewhere, and the nuclear exposions began throughout our little microcosm, nothing was ever the same again. I suppose, had Baron told Mack...or Penny...the results would have been virtually the same.

Mack and Charlie have never patched up their friendship since then (and didn't even speak to each other for many years). Marla moved out of Mack's house immediately. Penny and Charlie never married. The house that Charlie and Penny had bought together became Charlie and Marla's, as they married shortly thereafter. Mack, who is one of the nicest guys you would EVER want to meet, was heartbroken and took a long, long time to get over the pain and betrayal. Penny was comforted after the break-up by one of the fringe members of the group, Will, and they later married. Still are married, to my knowledge, and they have one son. Charlie and Marla couldn't have children, which was a devastating blow to Charlie (who'd badly wanted a large family) and eventually they adopted a daughter. Marla then cheated on Charlie, they divorced and Charlie picked up a coke habit that cost him a business that had been in his family for decades.

You know, I can still feel exactly the feelings I had when I KNEW that Charlie and Marla had been slipping around. The intensity of that discovery was overwhelming. I suppose something I've learned, since then, is that how you treat your friendships is a mark of your character. Is keeping a trust for one friend more important than disspelling a lie to another? Is asking a friend to keep such a secret fair to the friend? Twenty years later, I still don't know for sure. I still believe, though, that Mack's friend should have told him. Sometimes, I think maybe I should have, though Mack and I didn't become good friends until after the break-up when he needed me more...and years later when I needed him more.

When Will found out that Baron had known about all of this weeks before Penny found out, he was furious with Baron for not telling her. It cost Baron his friendship with Will.

Baron was able, on some level, to maintain his friendships with both Charlie and Mack (difficult, because Mack refused to be around Charlie), though things with Charlie were never as close as they had been. When Baron and I got married (about 3 years later), I insisted that Mack be invited to the wedding instead of Charlie.

I suppose it's all part of "life goes on" and "everybody makes mistakes" and "it wasn't meant to be", but for me, anyway, I'll never forget Charlie bounding from that bush and the look on his face when he did.

Talk about 'priceless'.



Blogger Liars Dice Master said...

Excellent flashback, and excellent essay! I have had inward contemplations about acts "in friendship" as well - both commission and omission.

None of us really like to go tell tales. And the "innocent" one in a relationship seems to always be the last one to know.

A good compromise, it seems to me, might be a statement like this to Charlie: "Look, you ARE my friend, but so are the others. I'm willing to give you 24 hours to talk about what you've done to the people who will care the most. After that, I'll not keep any secrets."

I like discussing ethical choices when real-life facts are used.

One thing to remember is that we all are "only human." To be a good friend, one must start by being true to one's self. (IMO)

10/20/2006 12:17 PM  
Blogger AaA said...

Good story. Not in the, 'Oh, that was a spiritually uplifting thing to hear', sense of good, but more in the lines of, 'Now that was an entertaining little vignette!'

I have a rather strict policy as regards secrets and friends, and it's one I make know to all of them.

'If you want something kept secret, don't tell me. I tend to blab. If I find out something you don't want known on my own, you're in deep shit anyway, because I'm a clod. If I could figure it out, you're already screwed.'

I got too many of my own secrets to keep; I can't be bothered keeping track of someone else's lies too. Too much work.

10/22/2006 10:05 PM  

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