Back in the late seventies, there was a South African band called “The Rabbitt” that I loved to listen to. They had a very nice (and somewhat cynical) song called “Everybody’s cheating”. I hadn’t heard it – or even remembered it – for a long, long time, but as I was going through some old papers the title of the song was there and when I found it on Spotify it was as if I were time travelling…and as I heard the lyrics “Everybody’s cheating on the one they love” , I could not help thinking of two stories I have heard, two stories of people that have cheated on the person they supposedly loved in what I could only call a surprising way. Or maybe not so surprising.
We have all lied at some point in our lives. When we are children we lie because we are afraid of punishment; as young teenagers we lie because we want to do things adults don’t want us to; sometimes we lie because we don’t want to hurt people, or we don’t say what we mean to avoid a quarrel; at work we have to hide our true feelings towards that colleague or boss we hate, and sometimes we even have to lie to our children in order to protect them from things they would not be able to understand. But most of us only lie when we really have to; we don’t like it and avoid it whenever possible. And there are moments when truth has to be told even if we know it’s going to hurt someone we love deeply, simply because we cannot live in a lie forever, or for a long time.
But apparently some people can.
In one of the stories there was a young girl who fell in love with one of the assistant lecturers at the University. It was her first or second year, she was nineteen and fascinated by him. He was only a few years older than her and he was dashing: to her he seemed so knowledgeable, so intelligent, so sophisticated, always impeccably dressed, with an ironic sense of humour.
He must have sensed that adoration because soon he was inviting her out. Not very ethical, but then the semester was soon over and he was not her teacher anymore so they were free to start dating. Because she was already head over heels in love with him and he must also have been in love with her. After a few years they were married. By then he was already a successful lawyer with a promising political career and she was starting her first job.
She had a wonderful family who welcomed him with open arms. Her parents were very well off and she had always been a much pampered child. Their relationship was never an easy one, but they stuck together and had a child to whom they were both very devoted. His career was a demanding one, which meant he had to travel frequently and often got home very late at night. She was suspicious of him, sometimes, but then she accepted he had a very busy professional life. Most of all, she lived for their child who compensated her for the lack of love her husband displayed. She was comfortable, if not happy, with their life together and so this went on for two decades.
Shortly after their son went into university he left home, and told her he was going to move in with a woman he had loved, and had had a relationship with, for the last 20 years.
In the other story again there is a young, inexperienced, romantic girl, in her early twenties, who has met this – again – dashing, handsome, older man who besides has a very attractive career as a diplomat. She cannot believe herself when he begins to court her, and he does this in a very old fashioned way and from the beginning with very “serious” intentions. He tells her he is very lonely when he is on his missions abroad, that he needs a loving companion, that she is perfect for him, as she is so well educated, so beautiful, so elegant – she will be the perfect diplomat’s wife. Of course she is amazed that a man such as him should be in love with her and she does the unthinkable – she leaves her studies, she leaves her life and marries him. She wants to go with him wherever he takes her and she cannot believe he has chosen her – of all the pretty girls that always surround him!
During their courtship he is very respectful – maybe too much? – but she thinks he’s just old fashioned, after all his family is a very traditional one, and besides he’s away for most of the time and only comes back for the wedding. Now they will be together forever, she thinks, and they will be so happy…
On her wedding day she is the most radiant bride. He is incredibly handsome and they make a perfect couple. As she prepares for her wedding night in some excitement – after all she is madly in love with him – he takes her hand and makes her sit by him on the bed, and he bluntly tells her he is homosexual. He tells her he loves her but as a friend. He tells her he has married her because he had to marry for the sake of his career and he believes she will be the perfect wife. Never for a moment does he think of his selfishness or of how much she will cry on that night after he has left her, that night that should have been the happiest of her life.
Two stories, two deceivers. In this case they are men, but it’s just a coincidence. Women deceive too, very much the same way. People deceive.
Sometimes deceivers are forgiven. As in the case of that long ago song by The Rabbitt, when the singer admits that, even after all the lies and “the telltale stories in your eyes”, that person who has cheated on him is still the one he loves.
Unfortunately, most stories of deceit do not have a happy ending. The hurt is sometimes unbearable and even when the deceived party tries to put all this behind many times it’s just not possible, and the story ends there. With a lot of pain and regret. Alternatively, people stick to each other but are always suspicious, insecure.
While telling these stories I don’t mean to be judgemental, or critical. After all, let one who has never deceived step forward and throw the first stone.
(Unfortunately this videoclip by The Rabbitt is not available on Youtube, but the song may be found on Spotify)