When someone gives me a "version" I invariably take it personally, like they are keeping something from me.and that everyone on the planet, except me, is in on the joke. Logically, I know better. I mean, the only reason I don't tell someone the truth is because I know they won't approve, and then they'll stop talking to me over something I think is no big deal. I'm just not a big fan of drama, so, I skip over some non-essential detail.
However, when asked a question like "What did you do last night?" The answer depends on who's asking...for some people, the answer is, "Not much--hung out with _Some Person_ ." For others, that same evening went like this:
"Oh my God, it was freaking HILARIOUS! _Some Person_ came over, and we had a couple of drinks, and of course, she wanted to go out, so, we called a cab and they sent a freaking stretch Town Car, so we rode to the neighborhood dive in the back of a RIDICULOUSLY nice car, with the dude opening the door for us and everything, and when we got there, all of the bartenders took one look at us and said, 'oh shit, _Some Person_ is here..." We proceeded to get just stupid, then _Some Other Person_ showed up to haul our drunken asses home, and when we got back, _Some Person_ started stripping out of her clothes to put her jammies on right there in the living room, in front of everybody! AND the curtains were open! Anybody walking by would have gotten a hell of a show..."
For the record, I've never had a night exactly like that, but all of those separate things have actually occurred on various occasions...within the last several months. I have some funny stories, what can I say?
There are people that I know who would hear that story and laugh their asses off. There are also people that I know who would hear that story and decide that I am dangerous and reckless and an awful person, even though I did nothing illegal, didn't cheat on anyone or "assist" anyone else in cheating, didn't lie about my whereabouts, and kept myself and others safe the entire time. Those people, who still can't get over the "drunken nonsense" aspect of the story, are the ones who get the "not much" version.
I wonder why we do that? I wonder why I do that? I mean, besides the fact that I consider myself one of the more boring people I know, you'd think we'd be in a better position to know who our real friends are if we'd just be entirely honest, the entire time.
OK, I'm definitely NOT the most boring person I know, which is the reason why there are two versions of that story.
I know, I know...we just don't want people to think ill of us--some of us more than others.--and unfortunately, you can't count on anyone having the same sense of humor about things that you do. Perhaps they have a relative that died of alcohol poisoning, and the whole drinking thing just isn't funny, at all. Or something bad happened to them, even though they thought they were being "safe", too. Or they live with an alcoholic, and don't see anything funny in that story, at all, having lived the Not Fun side of it, many times. It's amazing how differently two people can look at the same thing, and why.
There are occasions when, upon meeting an acquaintance of a friend, that friend will clue me in, in advance, with something like, "OK, they don't know I smoke..." and I run with it--not a big deal on a limited basis. There are also occasions in which a friend simply WON'T introduce me to someone because they've told that person some things about ME, and that person disapproves, so, the friend ultimately pretends they and I are not that close. Or worse, they told them some complete bullshit about me, in which case, they don't want to be caught in a lie when their new friend meets Shelly The Honest One. It happens.
All of this Being Less Than Entirely Honest stuff creates some interesting situations. Personally, I'm not a big fan of juggling a lot of different "truths", so, I work very hard to keep it to a minimum. I'm certainly not against pumping oneself up a little, but so many people lack the skill to do it without tearing somebody else down, that I have to advise against it, always.
I'll go against conventional wisdom and say that the web has made us not less honest, but more. We have so much contact with so many people, and the people we communicate with communicate with each other--this doesn't allow us much room to tell one person one story, and tell a completely different story to someone else. To the point of overload, there are no secrets. There are people that I barely talk to, of whom I could tell you what they had for dinner, who they ate with or where, how they felt about the whole thing, etc. In fact, I'm one of those people. (Quick! What did I have for lunch today? Well, look it up!)
At this stage in the game, the people I trust the least are the ones without a web presence. No Facebook? No Twitter? No blog? What are you hiding? And it's weird--those who don't use any or all of those tools, citing "privacy" or, just declaring the whole thing stupid, are now among the people I look at almost with suspicion. At least if you're joining the conversation, or even if you're just talking, even if it's about something inane, eventually you will expose what your "version" is.
And then I can decide whether or not to reveal to you that I'm a smoker.
But wait! You already knew that, because that is something for which I have only one version. (And to my adult friends? The ones who are STILL hiding the smoking thing from their parents? Are you serious?)
We all have versions--our preferred version, the ones we tell our conservative friends, the ones we tell our party friends, and a few generic versions that are slightly funny, but don't reveal our soft underbelly, just for use around the office, or with the convenience store guy that you kinda know.
But because I am a writer, the crazier, the more outrageous the version, the better. Did I tell you about that one time I was sitting in front of the TV and knitting a sweater and the most INSANE thing happened? Yeah...even the least stimulating activities can be interesting if you can make up a good "version".
But I swear it's all true. Every word.