Well, why not? Seems like many people are alleging that the Russians are responsible for so many things, why not this? Ah, Mitt Romney…are you chuckling somewhere?Capture

Don’t panic…this is NOT a political post, it’s about people and character. Actually,…..hmmmm……..okay, as I was saying…

About twelve or thirteen years ago I lived in a community where I had helped organize a monthly Bunco night. If you don’t know what Bunco is click here. It was for women only. There were those that called it Drunko, as the game requires little concentration. You could have an extra glass or three of wine and your gaming skills would not suffer. As long as you could throw dice without hitting someone, you were good to go.

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Despite having helped found the group. I quit long before it disbanded on its own. It had devolved into a mashup of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and The Lord of the Flies. There were evenings where I observed many spoiled, self-indulgent, willful, dirty-minded, liquor-ridden women. It made me frantic to gather up some of the more stable gals while imploring them to come away, there’s going to be trouble. That’s a fancy way of plagiarizing saying it just got too exhausting for me from a social standpoint.

It was disappointing as I had belonged to another Bunco group when I lived in Northern Kentucky from 2000 to 2002. I had a great experience with that and was eager to replicate it in Canada. Alas, it was not to be, despite the group having one or two gals that were fabulous examples of normality. We were simply no match for the insanity that some of the evenings provided. There was one evening close to Christmas where things devolved into a shouting match between two women that resulted in the aggressor visiting the target the next morning begging for forgiveness. The Housewives of Atlanta could not even come close to comparing to that epic evening. I remember sitting and watching, stunned beyond comprehension. It was awful, but clearly not awful enough for me to quit, at least not then. I was holding out hope that things could change. It was not going to.

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The particular evening that cemented my decision to exit the group did not involve, funnily enough, an outrageous incident. It was simply a character expose. I had arrived early as I was designated as a helper to the hostess. When I finished my duties, I joined a small group of women who were engaged in conversation. As we were talking one of the members arrived. My eyes were assaulted by an outfit that would not have been out of place on The Dukes of Hazzard or Americas Next Horrid Designer (*completely made the latter one up, but I hereby announce this concept as my intellectual property).

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She was very pretty with a killer body. I actually liked her. She owned a small dog that I sometimes looked after when she went away on vacation. Her ability at dressing herself, though, was abysmal. This was a woman who desperately needed a stylist. Her absolute niceness always overrode my natural inclination to tell her that she did not have to shop in the infant’s section for her summer tops. She had never asked me for fashion advice, so I refrained from volunteering. It was none of my business, although I was certainly allowed my opinion on her lack of style. I just kept it to myself. When you got to the bottom of things, though, how she dressed was less important than how kind she was.

The women with whom I had been exchanging pleasantries with immediately snickered at her appearance. All of them noted that once again, she had a fashion miss. I wish I had just told them to shut up. I did not. Daisy Duke headed over to our group so naturally, all their mocking talk stopped.

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We greeted her, and then much to my gobsmacked surprise one of the women told her how great her outfit looked. Another woman chimed in with her agreement to this obviously insane statement. I kept my mouth shut but still greeted her warmly. As Miss Hazzard County walked off to say hello to the other women at the party, I turned to the group and I mouthed ARE YOU ALL INSANE? They told me that they were just being nice. I told them I was pretty sure you could be nice and keep your integrity at the same time. Their compliments were cheap and false. Which started me thinking (yet again) about them as people. If they could so easily toss out an insincere compliment, then what else would they find easy to do? I already knew the answer.

Personally, I find truthfulness attractive in a friend. Writer Rayya Aelias has a mantra on truth worth embracing; “…When everything else in the room has blown up or dissolved away, the only thing left standing will always be the truth. Since that’s where you’re gonna end up anyway, you might as well just start there.” The truth, if given to her right at that moment would have been cruel and pointless. I’m not advocating that at all. However, uttering falsehoods is repulsive to me, under the exact circumstances of that evening.

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Listen, if I’m visiting a friend in the hospital and they look terrible I am not going to tell them they look awful. Again, pointless. Truth-telling has its place and time. There are occasions, like the hypothetical hospital scenario, where telling someone they look great when clearly they do not, is socially acceptable and perhaps even a service to the person asking. Likely they know you are lying anyway. To deliberately offer up a compliment to someone when not more than three seconds earlier you were disparaging them makes me ill.

Yes, I realize that it sounds like I’m basically a hypocritical buttoned-up Quaker, as I was also rolling my eyes at her outfit. I also think there is a difference between having a firm opinion in your mind and then uttering the exact opposite thought in the next moment. I simply value truth, and I need to believe that the people I spend significant amounts of time with appreciate it as well.

My decision to leave the Bunco group was based solely on this principle. It simply got to the point where I asked myself why I was surrounding myself with women I did not really care for. I did not admire them. I was always mentally exhausted when I finished spending any amount of time with them. I found myself biting my tongue (at least a few times) so I would not cause a scene. Lastly, with two or three exceptions, not one of those women added anything significant to my life. I was staying in the group based on the hope that things would change. I wanted a cadre of women that I could learn from, laugh with, and exchange ideas with. When I helped organize this group, it was the desire to have a sense of community within my neighborhood that drove me. I wanted friends. I wanted connections. Not at the emotional price I was paying, though.

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Some of you might be thinking that a monthly Bunco group is hardly something to get worked up over, and that being exposed to bad behavior for a few hours once a month is not a big deal. I would disagree with that. Charlie “Tremendous” Jones once said that “You are the same today as you’ll be in five years except for two things: the books you read and the people you meet.” I did not want to be anything like those women. Not one bit.

Much like the recovering alcoholic that wisely avoids spending any time with his old drinking buddies, or the person trying to lose weight and sensibly stays away from cheat foods and cheat days, I avoid spending any time with people I don’t respect. As the author of the blog: Fit Recovery wisely said in an outstanding post: “…I don’t tempt myself because I know the one truth that keeps me on the right path:  Spend enough time in a barbershop and you’re going to get a haircut sooner or later.” Like the author of this blog, I prefer to stay out of the barbershop.

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