I am a student of human nature. When I am forced to be in a large group, I tend to skirt the perimeter, taking note of how people interact, what they say, how they communicate… Some might call this people watching, but to me, its cramming for a final exam that I live every day.
Because of this, I usually figure out people faster than most. People have often said of me, “You can lie to yourself, but you can’t lie to Ed!” It can be both infuriating and rewarding to the people who know and love me (they are legion!).
I tend to get along better with women than I do men. I really have no idea why that is the case considering my personality. I am honest to the point of irritation, brutally honest most times, and I function solely on rational thought and don’t have even an ounce of compassion or emotional depth. I keep most people at arms length unless you are among my close friends (of which there are maybe three counting my gf). I don’t talk about myself much or what I am doing or how I am feeling, but not because I have something to hide, but because I don’t find myself all that interesting. I talk about myself more here on this blog than I do in person simply because here no one can hear you scream.
To illustrate how my skills of observation work, I will tell the tale of Alex*, a friend of my gf’s who befriended us shortly after we moved to Maui. When we first met, she was dating the father of her two children, Jack. They lived together with their children not too far from us.
For the first few months I just knew Alex and had not met Jack. I heard very little about Jack, positive or negative, and preferred it that way since I like making my opinions based on information I gather first hand. When I finally had an opportunity to interact with Jack, I realized quickly that something was quite wrong about him. I am not talking after a few hours, but after a few minutes talking with him… simply by asking him how the waves had been up near Lahaina where he said he had been all day, I found out he was lying to me and more importantly his gf.
I am an information junkie… I read news reports and troll all sorts of sites for information… even weather. I checked the wave report that morning and saw that Lahaina was experiencing unseasonably large swells. When I asked Jack how the waves were he said, “Small, as usual.” I knew he was lying, but I didn’t know why he would lie about something so innocuous as the waves.
Clearly lying about something so unimportant meant that he was protecting something larger. I ran down the list of possible reasons why someone would lie about where they were and I kept arriving at the same conclusion… He was cheating on his gf.
Later, after my gf and I were driving home, I told her I thought he was cheating. A few months later we found out I was right. He had apparently been living a double life, living part time with another woman on the other side of the island. Anyone could have put the pieces together, but no one did because they were all too busy seeing only what they wanted to see.
I bring this all up because I have been following an interesting story being written by Reader. It seems that lots of people ignore the obvious until it is much too late to do anything about it. I have been on the receiving end of a number of lies and none of them have ever gotten past my ever expanding bullshit alert system. I feel for the people who were taken in and know that despite the warning signs, few people could have known there was anything amiss. Most people are unwilling to think ill of the people they meet, especially people they like at first blush. I think most people have a need to be liked and because of this, they tend to err on the side of caution and not pass judgment on a small sample. Not me… sometimes I wish I didn’t see the things I do… at least not so early. Of course, I guess I do appreciate the fact that I am rarely “the last to know.”
*Not her real name.