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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fool Me Once...

I realize I haven't posted here for quite some time, but I intend to rectify that as best as possible. The reason I'm up late at night, writing to clear my head, is because I was reminded yet again that there's one aspect of myself I can't escape:

I can't handle being fooled.

This tends to crop up very, very rarely as I keep myself extremely closely guarded to such things due to two simple things. First, I stay humble about things I don't know. This means I don't claim to know something I don't and i don't insist I'm correct in a situation if i'm proven wrong. Second, I don't believe a single word that anyone tells me. Not really anyway. That's all a bit tricky to explain, but I'd best start at the origin for this whole mess. Let's go back to when I was a kid.

I was never a smooth child. I was about as gullible as one could be, believing anything anyone ever told me because, hey, why not? Things were pretty simple with cousins and friends pulling quick jokes here and there, making me believe they could teleport or that they saw a Ninja Turtle in the sewers for real. Most of this was and still is harmless. Children are naive by nature and dang it if it isn't fun to screw with them once in a while.

But it wasn't just simple jokes here and there. I had friends betray some deep trusts for me as a kid that I couldn't quite deal with. One 6th grade friend told me, a 2nd grader, that she was pregnant. I was scared and told my parents because I honestly cared about her, only to discover that she was just "testing me" and that she learned she couldn't trust me. Our friendship was very hard to deal with after that.

As I got older, it became common for my friends to make up some story to get out of playing with me because I was a wet blanket and didn't like taking risks or doing anything remotely "bad" (this is social poison if you're a boy). Tricking a kid so you can ditch him doesn't sound like the most despicable thing kids can do to one another, but it still hurts deep. It took me a painfully long time to come to my senses about how easily my friends were fooling me, which is even more pitiful as being alone so often you'd think I'd have ample time to think.

And that's actually what really did happen. Right around middle school my neighborhood diminished from a thriving manufactured home community with over 150 houses to something like 30 people within the span of a year or two. This left me without close friends and plenty of space to learn to over-analyze myself to oblivion.

By high school I couldn't be fooled, not in the traditional sense anyway. Nothing could surprise me as I'd over-analyzed every situation so much that there was literally nothing that could occur that I hadn't expected and anticipated. I have never been truly surprised to learn that someone was gay, for instance, because I've suspected and prepared for every person I've ever met to someday "reveal" their true self (some are easier to pick out than others).

This is...not the most enjoyable way to live one's life. It's not necessarily paranoia to the extent that I'm not going around actively looking for signs that people are betraying me, but I'm always anticipating that they could betray me any second. Absolutely anyone. My closest friends. My family. Myself. I know these people, and I know they're every bit as capable as those stupid kids when I was little. As a result I make it a point to try and always read people as quickly as possible to determine what, if anything, can be used as ammunition against them later should they choose to betray me. This is bad, the stuff of crazy people, but things got worse as I got older.

Some time near the end of my high school carer I made the mistake of trying to cram as many love triangles into my life as possible. One such all-time fantastic plot revolved around a girl I'd liked for three years, a close friend of mine fresh off a 13-month relationship, and depression-laden old me. To keep things short, my friend went after the girl, they initially didn't work out, I tried to convince her it was for the best, she was still heartbroken, so I got them back together. I dare any other high school senior to do the same thing, but I know you don't have the stones to inflict that amount of suffering upon yourself. The ironic twist? They acted initially as if I didn't realize what was happening. Suddenly I wasn't just be tricked; I was also still being treated like that naive little kid who believed Ninja Turtles lived under my street and 7-year-olds were capable of teleporting onto balconies when my eyes were kept closed for minutes at a time.

I've experienced this deja vu many times, each one with me stating to people that I know what's going on, that I'm not stupid and that I'm also an adult, only to have them assure me that I'm wrong. It typically takes about a week before they just break down and present the truth like it's some sort of elaborate Prestige in an illusion. "Ha ha, silly Chris! You had no clue what was going on this whole time! We're just too clever for you it seems!"

I bring all of this up again because, as I said in the beginning of this, I can't handle being really and truly fooled. A few months ago I woke up only to discover that my email had been hacked and I'd sent out a few simple spam messages to people on my contact list. I was mortified beyond all reason despite no harm really being done.

A few nights ago I got an email offering me a modeling job in Portland for $1,850 for 3 one-and-a-half-hour shoots. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a model. I've never even come close to the appearance of a model, despite my attempts to make it to the gym three nights a week. All of this seemed too good to be true, and I responded as such. They convinced me it wasn't. It was just that simple. Perhaps it was just God answering a prayer for help, for strength, for reassurance of my worth. But it still didn't add up. Tonight, after getting one last confirmation email, that voice in my head whispered gently into my ear, "No one wants your fat ass on their catalog... They're fooling you..." A simple Google search yielded results that pointed to modeling scams with wording dangerously similar to the email I received. "I told you... Who would want your stupid, naive face on ads selling things to good looking people...?"

No, I am not out any money, nor have I given away any information they couldn't already know (save for learning my waist size is 47" and my shoe size is 11). But I came too close to being a fool. I let my guard down and almost got in deep. And despite being able to finally have a night where I'm in bed before 12:30, I'm sitting here, still typing, all because I can't handle being fooled. You may say I'm overreacting, over thinking things. But have you ever learned that the actions you took for three years of your life were all a result of one simple white lie?

Perhaps that's a story for a different restless night.