Thursday, April 11, 2013

Do I Know You?

I was watching a docudrama about Diane Pikul, who was murdered by her cross-dressing husband, Joe Pikul, on the theory that Diane had threatened to expose Joe’s secret to the community, his coworkers, and his family.

Diane Pikul had been estranged from Joe Pikul, and her divorce attorney Raoul Felder commented during the docudrama that you really can’t know anybody. 

I agree with him to a point. I don't think it's possible to know someone who doesn’t want to be known. And, in my experience, this definition fits a lot of people.

I remember sitting with my mother as we listened to the news reports about Scott Peterson, and she saying “Damn! Women all over the country are going to be looking at their husbands cross-eyed now,” because none of Peterson’s friends could believe he’d committed such a horrific crime. In fact, to this day, the website claims his innocence.

Because Peterson, it turns out, is one of those people who don’t want to be known.

Not wanting to be known is not about seeking a quiet, solitary life during which you more or less mind your own business. Instead, not wanting to be known is about not wanting people to know what makes you tick and instead preferring to keep your motivations, your true worldview, and your true opinions under wraps. I suppose there are as many reasons for someone to adopt this raison d'etre as there are people, but unless you are a sociopath, I don’t understand this real well because my personality falls way on the other side of the spectrum, and I’m always trying to tell everyone darn near everything about what makes me tick. I think life is more interesting that way.

At the same time, I appreciate the complexity of human nature and don’t normally take my ability to know someone for granted. Which isn’t to say that I can’t be surprised or hurt by someone’s behavior that I didn’t exactly see coming, it’s just that I understand that people aren’t always what they seem.

I’d been thinking about this before I saw the docudrama, actually, because of an exchange I’d had a few weeks earlier with a new friend and professional colleague.

I’d forwarded my friend a resume I’d received from a young lady who told me she wanted to get into HR. This young lady knows a relative of mine, and upon hearing of her interest in HR, my relative agreed to make an introduction for whatever help I could provide.

I asked my friend to share the resume with her HR network, and she responded by asking how well I knew the person.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I tend to overthink my responses to what others would consider simple questions, but so what?

So, anyway I responded that she worked with my relative, she’d graduated from thus and such school, and she was looking to get into HR. At which point my friend said something like, “I can see that from the resume. I want to know what she’s like as a person,” and I thought to myself, “Hell, I don’t know what you’re like as a person,” and the question just struck me as funny.

So I guess my point in all this is that if you’ve ever been fooled by someone because you thought she was one thing and then it turns out she was something else entirely, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you’re a rotten judge of character. Some people just go out of their way to not let you see their true colors. Like Pikul did. Like Peterson still does. It’s the way they are.

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