There’s always two sides to a story. A universal truth alright, but it still bugs me when I hear it. And I’ve felt this way for as long as I can remember. Not because I doubted its verity but mostly because it annoys me when it’s used by people who want to give reason to unreasonable situations. And isn’t it obvious? Everyone has a reason for doing something. What upsets me, is the expectation that hearing the other side could somehow alter one’s take on things. I don’t know if the fact that I listen to both sides by profession has made me fed up with the scope of abuse which this simple sentence, this truth, carries. I find that this universal truth, this expectation to hear both sides before you can condemn an action or an event, isn’t universally applicable.
What prompted this thought was my recent conversation with a friend over the insensitive behaviour of an ex-colleague. Luckily, I wasn’t the recipient of this less-than-kind treatment, but I sure had my take on how malevolent this ex-colleague behaved. My older and arguably wiser friend Amy, rushed in to explain that there may be reasons for this ex-colleague’s behaviour that explained why she acted the way she acted. A trigger that would, potentially, justify her malicious act towards Joni, a person Amy and I care deeply about.I wanted to hear none of it.
My friend Amy, a forty-year-old banker, had her fair share of mishaps and back-stabbings in life. She survived it all -possibly not so intact- but definitely wiser. I criticised her forgiving nature, telling her that there are certain things that cannot be forgiven no matter how many sides there may be to a story. Not even by the bearers of the biggest hearts. Stealing one’s husband, which is what my ex-colleague Cassandra had committed, was certainly top of my list. No matter how rationally I tried to test Amy’s suggestion, that we knew only one part of the story, I couldn’t see myself forgiving or justifying the callous way in which Cassandra had treated Joni. Not even if Cassandra had acted in the name of love.
I remember the office parties, the social gatherings where Joni would attend to with her husband and Cassanddra would be there as well. My mind brings back memories of happier times when all of us, the three of them included, would cheer, clink glasses and share wishes for love, health and prosperity- a bunch of blissful idiots. What a joke that was. Then little details pop to my head, that I hadn’t given much thought to at the time. For example, the Christmas office party of 2010 which Cassandra didn’t attend to because she was supposedly sick -she was alive and kicking just hours before the event, I bumped into her at Selfridges shopping. Well, Joni’s husband missed it as well, apparently there was an urgent conference call he couldn’t miss or reschedule. And then there was the spring team-building trip to Courchevel which again by coincidence both Cassandra and Joni’s husband missed in lieu of other engagements. I think of Joni’s snowboarding accident at the time, and how lonely she felt travelling without her husband, her long-term partner and companion. I remember her talking about her husband in the sweetest way, telling me that had she known he wouldn’t make it, she wouldn’t have travelled either. Her mellow tone as she told him she missed him over the phone, revealed even discreetly, how much she longed to be with him. And to think that he was probably playing tootsie with Nasty-Cassy back home. Just thinking about it makes my skin shrink and crawl.
Getting caught up in a matrimonial division is a risky business. First and foremost for the couple involved but also for the friends and family who find themselves having to choose sides and make up their minds over which version of events to believe. Amy, who happens to be Joni’s friend since they were kiddies, and who happens to love her beyond doubt, rushes to point out to me that noone on the outside knows what goes on in the marital home. But in the end, who cares? Cheating is cheating and stealing one’s husband is condemnable no matter how many sides there are to a story. In the end of the day, there is only our version of events. We can’t expect anyone else to believe it but that alone doesn’t mean we have to water down what we believe has happened.
At the end of my conversation with Amy, a thought sprang to mind about my dear banker friend. Rushing to explain the mischievous acts of an infidel husband is fishy by itself. I am not one for prudence -no matter how desirable that may be to leading a by-the-book life. But at the same time, why would anyone try to justify Nasty-Cassy’s claws into another woman’s husband? I don’t care how important maintaining a healthy sex life is for a relationship or how essential mental stimulation is to a couple. The facts were there: Nasty-Cassy pretended to be just a colleague to Joni’s husband for years in front of everyone. And Joni’s husband broke his vows in the meanest, dirtiest possible way. Not to mention that he did that for the meanest, dirtiest person I have ever met. And that is simply my version of events. Does anyone need to hear another version before casting an opinion in a situation like this?