Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Pauper who said he was a Prince

My boyfriend makes friends easily. Almost everyday he comes home saying “I made a new friend today!” and then proceeds to talk about how epic his new friend is and how much I’ll love them. This is not always the case, but this time was an exception.
Scott started raving about one of his coworkers shortly after switching job locations. He spoke highly of almost all his new coworkers, but one in particular had really taken a shine to him. This coworker became Scott’s new best friend and in the weeks to come I heard no end of stories about him.

His name was Mike.

Scott spoke constantly of Mike’s good humour and generosity and after meeting him briefly in person I found all the stories to be true. Not only was Mike funny and giving, but also handsome and charming. He won me over right away and I soon wanted to be Mike’s best friend as well.

He was such an interesting fellow. He told us that he’d inherited a fortune from a dead uncle and really only had a job to keep himself busy. He said he had a swanky condo, that he was from Manitoba, but his family was originally from Paraguay. He said he liked to play hockey, but had to play on a non-contact team because of a head injury he’d received during a game that had landed him in a coma. His manner was so sincere and his stories so thrilling that I even wanted to set him up on a date with one of my best friends.

Mike became one of those people we thought we’d be able to depend on. Whenever he came up in conversation a “he’s a good guy” would inevitably follow his name. His charm worked on everybody, including the manager where he and Scott worked, who let Mike stay at his family home when his condo was having a flooding problem. We all welcomed this charming stranger into our hearts and homes. Lent him our books, cooked him dinner and called him friend, then one day it all changed.

Mike randomly switched job locations without really telling anyone and then within the week he was fired. The manager at his new location had caught him skimming from the till as well as stealing from coworkers’ wallets and bags kept in the backroom. Then they found out he’d been doing the same at his last location. Everyone was puzzled. Why would a guy with a substantial inheritance steal money? Then they started questioning all the stories Mike had told. Looking at his resume that was left behind they discovered that the “swanky condo” he claimed was his main address was really the address for a homeless shelter for men. Coworkers who had given him a ride home confirmed that they had dropped him off near that location.

After realizing this, the holes in all Mike’s stories began to appear. If he lived in such an awesome place why did he never have any of us over? He’d buy an expensive watch to show off to coworkers and then he’d claim he’d lost it while “out of town” (we suspect he just returned it). He’d brag about buying a new home theater and then when Scott offered to come over and help him set it up properly he’d tell us he’d smashed the screen “accidentally” while drunkenly swinging around a golf club.
At the end of it all we realized that we’d never really known him at all and that he’d been feeding us lie after lie. I was so dumbfounded by this revelation that I almost wanted to cry. I had liked Mike a lot and it hurt that he’d been lying to me about everything. He lied to my face, in my home, as I served him dinner. He’d been lying the first time I met him and the last time I saw him. His whole entire life was one big tall tale.

After coming to terms with this I started thinking about the rest of my friends. How did I know if any of them weren’t just like Mike? How was I supposed to trust anyone ever again! I guess this is what life really is, we let people in trusting them to tell the truth, but can we honestly say that we really know each other? People only give as much as they want to, no one is an open book. Look around you, how many of your friends might be a pauper telling you they’re a prince and vice versa… do I really know you? Do you really know me? Just something to think about the next time you let someone in.

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