Monday, May 23, 2005

Everyone loves a charade

I pride myself on being a very good / loyal friend. I have always been a believer in the urban family being just as (if not more) important as one's "real" family. This weekend, however, entailed some of the more challenging acts I have ever done for a friend.

My dear friend Steve has been lying to his grandma who fully, fully financially supports him. Steve has been lying for various reasons at various times (boyfriend, more money, Gram's piece of mind, his place in the will, etc). The thing is, Steve was graduating on Sunday (yesterday) and his Grandma was coming to town to see her 100 G investment.

Needless to say, there were a few challenges, however the one challenge we could not fudge our way out of was his living situation. Steve lives over in the Shaw neighborhood with two girls at an okay apartment and has little to no furniture—his rent is about $550 a month. Gram has been paying twice that for an apartment with a doorman, fully furnished and lots of fancy facilities. He also lives with a nice Jewish boy.

As luck would have it, my roommate is out of town for a week on business. I live in an apartment that would fit (mostly) what Grandma is expecting. So, kissing my Preakness tickets as well as a slamming party goodbye, I spent the weekend in a fairly intense charade. I will not bore you with details, but in addition to rehearsing stories, changing backgrounds and sexual preferences, we brought in a cleaning service and moved my roommate out and Steve in.

And, the amazing thing is: it worked.

A cowed Grandma left for NYC this morning happy that her money was well spent and even more proud of her darling grandson. She is probably beefing up Steve's portion of the will, and it was all in a weekends work. And hey, that's what friends are for.


Blogger roosh said...

wow. that is awesome

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly, he truly should be ashamed of himself, stealing from a grandmothers heart, that's low.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Patrick J. Fitzgerald said...

apron and money strings are a powerful force...

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

he needs to buy a backbone with all that rent money he is saving

12:33 PM  
Blogger V said...

Anon: Your point is well taken.

But, is it better for grandma to have the truth / money or piece of mind?

While I believe in telling the truth whenever possible, I think in this case it is better to throw a charade and make grandma have her last trip out of NYC be one of her most proud.

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that Grandma should have piece of mind, but doesn't your friend have any sort of self-dignity. It's his Grandma!! I don't think that I could respect my friend for deliberately decieving his Grandma with the intention of scoring her money. Sounds like your friend is a good con artist -- he conned Grandma into getting her money and now he's conned you into helping with the plan. Sounds like you've been had too..

12:43 PM  
Anonymous cjt said...

Your point is well taken V and her peace of mind concern is valid. He should have never done this to begin with IMO, that's my point. I wonder if the possible panic of your freind was worth the charade from the start.

You helped your freind, fair enough and granny is happy.

12:44 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Although I couldn't do that to my grandmother - this is hilarious! Nicely done and way to go above & beyond when helping out a friend :)

12:49 PM  
Blogger Patrick J. Fitzgerald said...

Honesty is the best policy. Who knows, his nice Nana might be hip, watch BRAVO and taken him shopping at Loehman's or Filene's to celebrate both his graduation and coming out.

1:03 PM  
Blogger V said...

Anon: I think my friend does have dignity, and I know he loves his grandma very much. I don't think it is really a con...I can certainly understand the need to keep certain parts of your life from others. The fact that money is tied to it doesn't make any difference from my perspective.

In college, my parents paid for my apartment, but they never knew my boyfriend lived there, too (they are very religious and don't believe in living together before marriage). I wasn't trying to con them, I just didn't want to be stuck paying the rent because they disagreed with a choice I was making...I would rather keep them happy and in the dark than tell the truth. Maybe that's wrong in your eyes, but I think in these situations it's okay.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous cjt said...

In my case the story gave me a feeling similar to your "Self-restraint regretted" write.

Not knowing all the details as you list some of above may exonerate him. It all just gave me bad feeling for the generous grandmother.

My sisters transient IUD in college and resulting rupture and hospital visit was lied about to her religious/conservative parents so I get it. :)

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know, V -- money is either given with or without conditions. If rent money is given out with the assumption that you'd both be following certain rules/or a lifestyle then you should not have taken the money if you were not going to abide by the conditions. If the money were truly a "gift" then you would not have to worry about abiding by any rules and you wouldn't feel ashamaed living your life in the manner which you choose (you - living w/ your boyfriend in college and Steve living where he does)

I think it is a convenient excuse for you and Steve to feel better about yourselves by saying in the end you are making your parents and Steve's grandma happy. I mean, if you would have both been honest about your situations up front, what's the worst that would happen? Grandma and your parents would have experienced discomfort for a bit, but in the end would most likely continue to love you unconditionally. And, if they don't love you unconditionally then why oh why would you want their cash in the first place?

It's a matter of respect -- both for yourself and for the parents/grandma. You are, after all, an adult by the time you are 18. You are thus fully capable of paying for your own rent at this point (even when you were 18 and in college -- I did it!). Isn't it more respectable to say - "Hey mom and dad (or grandma), thank you for the money, but I can't accept it because of where I want to live/who I want to live with. I know you don't agree so I don't feel comfortable accepting your money."

The whole "I would rather keep them happy and in the dark" reason just doesn't seem to cut it because if they would have found out about your lies, wouldn't it have been even worse than if you were honest in the first place?

Lying to get your parents' or your grandma's hard-earned cash for your own selfish reasons (you - so you don't have to get a job and pay rent and Steve to get a bigger chunk of Grandma's will) is just not at all respectable no matter how you attempt to justify it. Oh well -- at least you and Steve seem to be two peas in a pod on this one!

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

"I would rather keep them happy and in the dark than tell the truth."

Let's not kid ourselves, V, isn't this really what you mean to say: "I'd rather keep them happy and in the dark while the money rolls into my bank account so that I don't have to buck up and pay my own way."

1:54 PM  
Blogger V said...

ctj and anon: thanks for these comments.

Anon: FYI: I actually did work all the way (and pay for) school, but my parents paid my rent.
I really do understand your perspective, and I think in a way you are right when using your logic to reach the conclusion. I think to say it's "selfish" really misses some of what I was trying to say. I not ashamed of my choices, but I also know my parents would not understand them because we come from different places and have very different opinions (Steven is the same way with his grandma). Anyway, it is not just money that is at issue, I haven't told my parents lots of things about my life and they the same with me. I think people get all bent out of shape when it comes to money (I am not one of those people), and I really don't think I am being selfish. I think what is more selfish is just saying "tell the truth" without considering what the truth really means and weighing its impact on other people. I imagine we just differ here as I am not a "black and white" person, I see the world as very complicated and very gray.

2:23 PM  
Blogger V said...

"I don't have to buck up and pay my own way."
Mike: What a riot you are, it cracks me up when people jump to these conclusions...that's so cute that you probably have this absurd idea of my life and my situation in your head :)

Excuse me, I am now going to go eat poor people on China my parents' money bought that was supposed to be used to help save dolphins...excellent.

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

V - I agree that not everything is black and white as I am very grey as well. Just one question, though, as I'm a bit confused about the Steve story. Has Grandma ever mailed anything to Steve? If so, then how come she didn't pick up on the fact that your address is not the address where she had been mailing him things? Just not sure how Grandma didn't pick up on the ol' apartment switcheroo. Afterall, don't you and steve have different apt. #s, etc? Was she just senile, perhaps?

2:42 PM  
Blogger V said...

Good question.
We had an answer all cooked up, but she didn't even notice. She was just "so happy Steven has such a nice place to live."

I mean the woman is 84 and hasn't been out of the city in 20 years or something. This was her last hurrah (she said) before she peaces outta of life.

2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grandma should yank that tuition and send him to Howard.

3:29 PM  
Blogger Patrick J. Fitzgerald said...

will schwill...break free from the past and be who you are without hiding it from the won't be the first nor last...

4:26 PM  
Blogger Cleveland Park Men's Club said...

V, no offense, but that you don't think this is a "con," says something about your character.

You helped your friend lie to an 84 year old woman.

9:03 PM  
Blogger Natty G said...

I must agree with the good men of the CMPC. This is definitely a great story, and could probably be made into an excellent 20-minute short film. But, ethically, your friend went about as low as one could go.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Patrick J. Fitzgerald said...

Live and learn...that's so, so what, now what? is a good way to learn and grow without wallowing in guilt...

2:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You and your queer friend make me sick

8:56 AM  
Blogger Patrick J. Fitzgerald said...

Lucy Ricardo and Jack Tripper would be proud...

9:01 AM  
Blogger V said...

None taken, fellas. I just differ on whether Steve coming clean to his grandma (which would have caused a lot of emotional stress for her and ruined the last trip of her life that she has been looking forward to since little Stevie was born) is better than putting on a charade.

I certainly wish he would have been telling her the truth, but as it was, I agreed that the best thing to do would be to let the lie go on.

If that says my character is flawed in some people's eyes than so be it.

As much as I dislike JSM: I think "the ends justified the means here."

9:02 AM  
Blogger Cleveland Park Men's Club said...

Truth is neither good nor bad; but it is the best thing.

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Liar, liar, pants on fire.. said...

"I certainly wish he would have been telling her the truth, but as it was, I agreed that the best thing to do would be to let the lie go on."

Here's my take -- fine, the lie goes on at this point, but it is his mess and he should have been the one to lie in it. I know that I would be pissed if my friend put me in that position. Nor would I offer to help my friend out in deceiving his Grandma. Like CPMC said, V - it truly shows a lot about your character (or lack thereof) that you would help a friend lie to his Grandma. Friends are supposed to be there to support one another, not contribute to them conning and lying to others. Friends are supposed to cushion the blow when they make a mistake like lying, not aiding and abetting them in their schemes.

10:40 AM  
Blogger V said...

CPMC: I agree with you in theory, but I learned long ago not hold too fast to any maxims of belief. Life is damn complicated and all you can try to do is the right thing. Character is not sticking to those principles we are told we should stick to, I think it is much, much more than that.

Thanks for the comments. I think we just have a difference of opinion here (and perhaps difference of character).

12:21 PM  
Blogger Cleveland Park Men's Club said...


2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who are you to decide for someone else what is harmful for them and what isn't? You try to take the moral high ground and say that you (or at least Steve) were doing was in grandma's best interests - but who are you to decide that? What gives you the authority to decide when a lie is better than the truth? What gives you the right to lie, cheat, and deceive someone else? Put yourself in grandma shoes - would you be happy if someone lied to you to position themselves in your will? What happens if grandma finds out that Steve was lying to her later on - doesn't it make the whole situation far worse than if Steve had just come clean? The whole thing is just a grand rationalization for less-than-questionable actions.

2:57 PM  
Blogger DCCurves said...

Everyone may have a charade... but I can't believe anyone would prey on little old grandma. That's just wrong! Unless she's rich of course.

3:14 PM  
Blogger V said...

Anon: Take a deep breath. I think I have covered your accusations in previous responses, and when I am 84 and on death's door, I think I would say ignorance is bliss. Furthermore, I didn't decide what was best for her, Steve did based on his relationship with his grandma, and as his friend, I supported him because I thought it would be best as well.

I am a little surprised at how many people are up on their moral pedestal on this. I just thought it was an interesting turn of events, I guess when you mix money, grandmas, a stranger-blogger (me) and a questionable act then people like to look their long noses down at you.

3:31 PM  
Blogger Elvis said...

V, just read this and what you did is commendable. You helped a friend who needed help. Period. People are saying you lied, covered up, etc. They haven't walked in Steve's shoe. Life is complicated, messy. There are people out there who would disown their children if it turned out they were ever gay. There exist, sadly, in this world families who will turn their backs on grandchildren if they aren't doctors, lawyers, in a family business, a family profession, or a family set path. Whatever his motives, he made his decision, and all he asked was that you help.

3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


If Steve had murdered someone, and asked V to cover it up, will that still be commendable if she helped out? The guise of simply helping one's friend should not be a license to do anything one wishes.

3:55 PM  
Blogger Elvis said...

I hate wading into this... but here goes. Someone named "Anonymous" wrote: "If Steve had murdered someone, and asked V to cover it up, will that still be commendable if she helped out?" Nice touch. Examples of the extreme and OBVIOUSLY wrong are crutches of the inexperienced.

I'm willing to wager that this "Anonymous" person has lived in the United States their whole lives, has never been in a situation that they didn't know every exact answer to, and is just as magnificent with pronouncements on all things righteous in this world. I will also wager that Anonymouse has never been to places like Uganda, Pakistan, Somalia, or some place that doesn't exist on a map. And that Anon has never heard the sound of safeties going off on an AK-47. Or that Anon can't possibly relate to someone lying to save face, save honor, or save feelings (cause if feelings are hurt, there's a whole lotta pain going down). The point is, until you've lived a long time and seen some rather distressing situations, save the anger and high horse speeches. Anon should just chill, enjoy the read, and ask whether there are situations out there that don't comport into a tiny little box they neatly stack on their desks at home.

4:43 PM  

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