Normal And Funny

I thought my first red flag in a relationship was hilarious

I don’t know what to call what we were doing. It wasn’t a discussion. It wasn’t a debate. It wasn’t bickering. It wasn’t even verbal sparring. It was a little bit of all of that, with a dash of lighthearted bragging and a pinch of rivalry.

We were on opposite sides of an issue. I can’t remember what the issue was — this was over twenty years ago — it was something unimportant, I think. Unimportant, but neither of us were willing to stand down from our point of view. Which is why we were doing whatever you call what we were doing.

So many of the details I have forgotten, but there’s this one moment that’s still clear as day in my mind. We were standing at the bus stop. He had just said something that I very easily debunked. And then he claimed he hadn’t said it.

He very obviously had said it. I knew it. He knew it. The guy at the bus stop who was pretending he wasn’t listening in knew it. And I knew that guy knew it, because I remember turning to the guy and saying: “Did you hear him say that?”

I didn’t even wait for the guy to respond because my question was for the sake of drawing attention to the fact that there was a third party listening in and he couldn’t just blatantly lie and keep face at the same time.

But even with a witness, he just plain denied he said the thing he said. He’d rather be a liar than admit to having made a weak argument.

This was the first big red flag in a young, soon to turn very toxic relationship. He’d deny things he said regularly, and it stopped being lighthearted or fun pretty damn quick.

I’ve made my peace with the fact that the “he” in this story is a full-blown asshole at best and a covert narcissist at worst. Someone who liked to put me in my place with such gems as “I don’t trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn’t die.” I’m not bothered by that anymore.

What bothers me is that first red flag. There are so many stories about people “ignoring” early red flags. I never ignored the red flag. We were having fun. He was laughing. I was laughing. The guy at the bus stop was trying not to laugh and failing. The whole scene felt like it had been lifted straight out of an sitcom.

I heard Eddie Murphy joke about this sort of absurd denial in the mid nineties (His movie RAW was almost a decade old but still very popular) and a few years later Shaggy would hilariously sing his denial when we all knew it was, in fact, him. I just want note I wrote that without a trace of sarcasm. “It wasn’t me” and the music video that went with it were funny. I laughed out loud when I first saw it. So did my friends.

So when I encountered it “in the wild”, that was just a good time. I wanted a partner with a great sense of humor — this is what humor looked like. Nothing wrong with a joke, right? He wouldn’t possibly do the same thing when it’s not absurdly funny, right?

Anyway, this is a long-ass rant because I noticed someone complaining about people being so quick to label other people as “narcissists” and incompatibility as “toxic”. Dude, I can get what you’re trying to say, but have you taken a long hard look at the sort of shit that was considered normal two decades ago?

I will deal with a bit of hyperbole and over-diagnosing if it means my kids no longer think being conditioned for gaslighting is funny.



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Aura Wilming

Aura Wilming

Writer of fiction, blogs and erotica. Frequency in that order. Popularity in reverse.