Men in my life, I apologize in advance for the third degree I'm going to be giving you for the next couple of weeks. I'm going to be second guessing things you tell me. I'm going to assume there's a good chance that you're lying. When you look at your phone, I'm going to wonder if you're sending a picture of your bush to an underage social network user from Delaware. Chalk it up to The Weiner Effect.
When men whom I admire let their families down- Anthony Weiner, to use a timely example, or Bill Clinton, to use an example that Jay Leno still likes to use as joke fodder- I can't help but apply it to my own life. If men like that are capable of lying to their families and to the public, then who's to say that the men in my life aren't doing the same to me? When men in public mess up, they're making it a little worse for other men, as the more I learn about the level of deceit that seemingly good men are capable of, the more gun-shy I feel about what men tell me, the less inclined I am to believe everything a man tells me. I become a side-eye machine, cross examining, and disbelieving mundane things.
If it happened to Huma Abedin and Hillary Clinton and Sandra Bullock, who's to say it won't happen to me? I'm infinitely less fabulous than those three women, and infinitely more cheat on-able. (I wish Oprah was still around. She'd be able to help me.)
By all accounts, Weiner was a devoted newlywed who had just married one of the most graceful and eligible women in Washington, a hard working, hard fighting liberal who actually had balls. Unfortunately, he was so proud of those balls that he felt it was appropriate for him to share them, figuratively, in public with the American people and literally in private with random women he'd met on the internet. It seems that no one knew, and no one saw it coming, especially not his now- pregnant wife.
If Weiner can do it, then who's to say my friend's husband can't do it to her? Who's to say my boyfriend won't do it to me? Who's to say my father won't cheat on my mother? Who's to say that every man in the whole world isn't hiding his cock shot sexting secret life from the women he purports to love?
I know that every relationship is different, and, as others have pointed out, some women wouldn't have a negative reaction to learning that their partner was clandestinely having explicit exchanges with other women. Some women say it would make them laugh. Some relationships have built in wiggle room, and others encourage the exploration of fantasy outside of the relationship. That may be your relationship, and if it is, I salute you, because you exist in a magical field of trust and non-jealousy, and here I am caught on the Weiner roaster of doubt, cooking in my own suspicious juices, projecting dismay with male public officials onto all of the non-Congressmen I hang around.
Here's an unfortunate example. My father, an avid Minnesota Twins fan, texted me a couple hours ago that pitcher Francisco Liriano had a no-hitter going into the 6th inning. My immediate reaction? Why are you messing with me, Dad? He's already had one this year.
Liriano lost the no-hitter in the 8th inning, but that doesn't change the fact that the doubting of my father, a trustworthy, good man, was downright bizarre. Oh, Anthony Weiner. Why did you have to be so deceitful?
If I were to take The Weiner Effect to its logical end, there would be Red Scare-like tribunals, where men I trust sit behind a desk under hot lights and state, under oath, that they're not cheating bastards. I'd be the sweaty Wisconsin-bred Josephine McCarthy. In a post-Weiner Effect world, women would be able to read men's minds, like how Mel Gibson could read women's minds in that not-very-good movie with Helen Hunt, except with less secret anti-Semitism and no drunk driving. Maybe then, if I really know what they're thinking, I'll be able to trust men, instead of acting melodramatic when one dude lies. Maybe I'll remember that it's just as unfair for me to group "men" under one judgmental umbrella as it is for men to do the same to women.
At the end of the day (and Anthony's Weiner aside), that's what trust is- recognizing that the person in whom you've placed your trust isn't an indecipherable member of a homogenous group of liars, that the person is an individual who is telling you the truth and who won't ever advise a porn star on how to "aw shucks" her way through a press conference. Worrying that everyone is lying to you at all times is a pretty crappy way to go through life.
Until I internalize that reasonable and fair position, however, I'll be responding to all statements with a narrow-eyed, suspicious "Who have you been talking to?"
Image via AP