Women Do Lie, Folks..

Shortly after the birth of my first child, I became passionately and adamantly pro-life. For me this meant I was passionately anti-abortion as well. I was in my late twenties, even more unsparing in my rhetoric than I am now, and excited to have a place on CompuServe discussion groups where I could hold forth on the matter.

One night, my wife and I came home, unlocked the door, our baby car seat in hand, to hear the phone ringing.  Mary rushed to the bedroom, sat down on the bed, and picked it up.  Attending to my baby daughter, this is what I heard:

Mary:  Pardon me?  You’re nineteen?
Mary:  Who are you?  Can you tell me your name?
Long pause..
Mary:  So you’re nineteen and you’re pregnant and you say my husband is the father?

I can’t remember the look Mary and I exchanged with each other, but put yourself in that situation.  Use your imagination.  It was a surreal, ugly moment, not because we had any doubt about each other, but because we knew we were in the presence of pure evil. I made the connection to my CompuServe discussions almost right away, and instantly remembered advice from other correspondents about masking your personal phone number in your account profile.  These would have been the early days of identity theft and anonymous harassment, without Caller ID.

Fortunately, my wife has a very unsparing view of her own sex.  She took a breath and started in on the the little whore, (a term that I think, under the circumstances, is very generous).

Mary: “So when did this affair take place?  Where did it take place?  Why did you go for a married man?  What does that say about you?  Go ahead.  Tell me.  Details.  Details.  Where were you doing it with my husband, young lady?

(Mary probably should have been a prosecutor.)

The caller hung up. We looked at each other and gritted our teeth, tried to laugh about it, but we also understood that someone knew where we lived — someone willing to spread the most vicious kinds of slander. What else were they capable of?

As it happens, Mary and I are together almost all the time, because I’ve always been a telecommuter, or a work-out-of-the-house living historian, (a job title that does not yet turn up on Census Bureau forms.)  We both wondered what that exchange might have been like if I had been a traveling salesman, or a teacher, or someone who commuted into a corporate world full of unattached singles?

Someone who I had likely shamed in a discussion about abortion, (or an angry lurker) was willing to take out her guilt by telling lies that could destroy a marriage and leave children without a father. God might forgive such a person, and I can too, but I think she should have been horse-whipped in the public square to answer the temporal harm she was willing to cause.

To make the matter more emotionally difficult, consider this: men struggle with lust, ladies. I know I do. I know what I hear from friends my age, as well — and it just doesn’t stop.  It colors our response to even the most absurd charges, because if your husband hasn’t told you this, he’s a good, chivalrous sort and careful of your feelings, but it’s the truth. We’re adulterers at heart. When we get falsely accused of indelity, after the outrage, there’s a part of us that is failing a “heart” lie detector test.

I can imagine, full well, what Roy Moore is feeling: oh, my word, yes, well, was I guilty of being attracted to women?  Well yes, I suppose I was.  Is that okay?  Younger women too?  Well, uh, yes, I guess so?  Roy Moore probably comes from a very legalistic branch of the Christian faith I would find annoying, so his sense of self, and spiritual worth, is likely on trial in a way that most of us can’t imagine either.

To make matters worse, there is the problem of time.  I’m planning a 40th high school reunion right now and I’m surprised by the number of people I don’t remember — some of whom remember me.  If you were to examine the story I’ve related here, and ask me about specific dates, and specific things I wrote on CompuServe, I might get some of the details wrong — after decades.  Obviously, I can’t remember everything my wife said on the telephone, and if someone opposed me in a political campaign, I can imagine the headline: “Riley’s Account of False Accusation Differs In Three Key Areas.”

In the face of a man protesting his innocence, on this occasion, you folks who want him to step down would be very happy in the 1690 Bay Colony.  You’re on a witch hunt — and you should be ashamed of yourselves.