It’s happened to me several times, and I’ve always found it devastating because (A) I thought the person who said it was a friend; and (B) I realized what some people really think of me.
Many years ago, at a different publication, I happened to walk in on an editor saying unkind things about me. I can’t remember exactly what she was saying–all right I can, but let me not dignify them by repeating them here all these years later. Why dredge up the hurt all over again?
Anyway, I sashayed into her office just as she was going into full force on the topic of my alleged assholism to a coworker. (It wasn’t about my work, which is always flawless, thank you, but about my personality.)
When she realized I had suddenly entered the room, she blanched and said, “And then there’s Michael…”, trying to throw me off the scent as if she was now switching topics. But I knew it was me she’d been dishing. And dishing. And dishing.
Worse than that is when you overhear a nickname someone’s given you behind your back.
That could be suicide time.
I’ve also eavesdropped on people calling me tired, unattractive, and weird.
(When I walked in on that last one, the offender bullshitted, “Oh! We were just saying how great it is that you don’t drink!”)
But I actually might deserve all this because I was once the offender myself.
When I lived in a two-bedroom apartment, I had a roommate–a nice if introverted young woman named, let’s say, Joanne.
A friend of mine came over and we started dishing on Joanne since her door was shut, there was nary a sound coming out of her room, and she was obviously out.
We went on and on about how sad and friendless she was, and how she really needed to get a life sometime real soon or risk extinction. “The poor thing is such a loser!” we cackled.
Well, during a lull in the conversation, her door opened. Joanne emerged. She’d been in there the whole time.
Suicide time for everyone.
Be careful whom you dish–and where.