I've been rereading Peni's excellent post and trying to figure out which would apply to my former friend M. I met her when she was a law student (make up your own joke
). I was about 26-27 and she was about 41 then. As I got to know her, I "learned":
- her mum was Scottish, dad was status Indian but lost that status when he enlisted in WW2 (yes, they did lose their status, don't ask me why) in one of the UK armed forces and wound up on Churchill's staff (!)
- she went to the 1972 Olympics, competing for Britain in the high jump, but never actually got to compete because after the terrorists struck they sent all the young'ns home (she would have been about 16) (don't ask me how someone from Nova Scotia wound up on the British team)
- she enrolled in the Royal Navy (GB not Can) herself and was a chemical weapons expert in the Falklands doo-dah (although her daughter would have been about 6 wks old when the war broke out; I don't know if they'd have sent out a woman with a child that young at home)
- at one point she was an automotive journalist, then worked for one of the major car companies but quit in disgust when they wouldn't make her a vice-president because she didn't have a degree (why the hell did she do film studies then?!) She *did* know a fair bit about cars but was mysteriously hazy about which journal she actually worked on. One of my friends wondered if it was one of those "Auto Trader" mags you get free at the corner store or in laundromats.
- her partner/husband was a native liaison officer, or some equivalent position, in a pen in Nova Scotia, yet he wouldn't transfer to Kingston (Kingston is to penitentiaries as Las Vegas is to light bulbs) because he didn't like the town. It baffled me why she always had to be home at 9 p.m. when he phoned
- her previous husband was a Scot in the Royal Navy (there's that damn British military popping up again!) and their daughter went to the same daycare as Prince William! (Wills was in daycare?! wtf?!)
- she was hard to track/trace because she went by a variety of names, e.g. we all knew her as Maggie Fletcher-Ridoux, her father's last name was Martin (I made a point of asking him his last name when I met him, and btw he was a real sweetie--never had the nerve to ask him about Churchill though), her phone was in the name of Patricia Brown (I think Patricia was a middle name) etc. I asked her teenage daughter once where she got the Brown name and she smiled sadly and wouldn't tell me.
It's all very Forrest Gump-ish and we never believed a word of it. Re: her husband working at the pen in NS--another friend, who went to law school with her, finally snapped one day as we were discussing the oddness of it all, and told us that the guy was actually in Collins Bay Penitentiary here in town (same one where my bf worked for 15 yrs) and was doing time for accessory to murder! When Maggie or whatever her name was said she was going back to NS to see him, she was just lying low in her apartment, not answering phone or emails, before suddenly reappearing with tales of her wonderful vacation. She had to be home at 9 p.m. when he phoned because cons can only call collect, even though Collins Bay is local; perhaps she was billed the equivalent of a pay phone call, I dunno. I don't get a lot of calls from convicts and frankly I prefer it that way.
The friendship only lasted a year or two. When the ice storm hit in 1998, I wound up staying at her place for a week. Hers was the only place I could go to because she was the only one of my friends who never lost power in her part of town and could accommodate both a cat and a smoker (she smoked). She'd taken Sam for a week or so when I was away for Christmas and he became great buds with her cat, so at least I didn't have to worry about him. Needless to say it drove me crazy; her lying and her overbearing ways were driving me crazy. After my neighbourhood got power back and I could go home, I found out from another friend that M. had been telling people that *I* was claiming to have given people money to make up for their losses in the storm! When I asked the person (who was totally reliable) where in the hell I'd get the money to hand out to people and why I would do that in the first place, she just shrugged and rolled her eyes.
M. was a classic example of a person who was always reinventing herself. She was bright and superficially charming and always had a stock of entertaining stories. OTOH she was also overbearing and tried to dominate social gatherings, i.e. once when a bunch of us were at a bday dinner held in my honour, she dismissed our plans to go to someone's house to watch a video and started recruiting people to go to a pub after--and she didn't even drink! She was very controlling; when I was staying at her place, she'd go out for the day and leave me alone, unable to go anywhere even though the mall next door was open, because she wouldn't give me a key. I actually spent a night there longer than I wanted to because she came home from work one day, told me my place had lights again, then said I'd be staying another night because it would be too cold. Her teenaged daughter saw the look on my face and smiled sadly. I didn't argue with her because (a) I was young and (b) I had no money with which to call a cab, and it seemed easier to just take a deep breath and endure another night, then go home and forget about her forever. She was constantly screaming at her daughter too. She had a computer in her room which she let me use, but she'd stay in the room while I was emailing my bf and say things like "Oh, you said 'Hi sweetie'! That is so awesome etc." and when I shut the computer off and left the room, she spent the rest of the night alternating between chiding me for my petulance and apologizing for being nosy. Unfortunately the building wasn't high enough for it to be fatal for one of off to go off the balcony so I just sucked it up. (man, I was young then! I'd never put up with that kind of crap these days!)
Anyway, she continued her pattern of flitting from one thing to another. After finishing her law degree, she cast around for something to do and decided to take an MA in military studies at the Royal Military College (a program open to civilians). She started dating one of the officers from the college (never mind her husband rotting in Collins Bay), then abruptly quit to take a job in the far north. We figured she'd worn out her welcome here; certainly everyone had seen through her. I sometimes wonder where she is and what she's doing, and what she tells people about her time here in Kingston. Even her Indianness was in private dispute; her dad had a Scottish accent and looked about as native as I do (granted, that's not foolproof, there *are* blonde/blue-eyed status Indians walking around, but it just didn't add up). We figured she exaggerated a wee bit as to how much Indian she actually had, or perhaps she had been adopted. There's really no way of knowing.
She certainly was an enigma.