Monday, October 7, 2013

I Don't Believe Them

There is an album called 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong. Ah, but can they all be liars? At what point do you trust what everyone else says, and distrust your own heart?

That question lies at the center of this song. A young man is in love, as in so many other songs: "Yesterday, you swore to me/ You'd be mine eternally." With this phrasing, however, we feel a "but" coming. That was "yesterday." Today..?

Well, "Today, my friends all say it's true/ You're going out with someone new." They "all" say it. How could it not be the case?

Nevertheless, our hero remains unconvinced: "I don't believe them," he asserts repeatedly, adding "No!" seven times.

But the rumor mill grinds on. Next, the "kids in school" say she is not just a two-timer, but a many more timer than that! In fact, that she runs around, like, um, Runaround Sue: "They say that when I turn around/ You head right for the lights of town."

It's not just that they are maligning her, but also him, calling him a "fool" to his face for staying with her.

So he looks at his own history: "I've been hurt so many times/ That I'm afraid to start." Oh, this does not look good. He is liable to chalk this up as yet another failed romance. So much pain, and still so young...

Only, no! He dismisses all of that. Instead, he decides that faith is the way, as the alternative is unthinkable: "If I believed everything they say/ It would break my heart."

While his stalwart trust is admirable, his next piece of reasoning is not: "So I'll go on trusting you/ I've got no choice-- what can I do?" Well, he could ask her, either directly or indirectly, or enlist her help in quelling the rumors.

He's not there yet, though. Where is he? Stuck. "I know that I would die/ If I found out you told a lie," he says. If he asks her and she isn't cheating, she might take offense at being suspected, and dump him. If she is cheating, she would lie about it (as she has been by hiding it all along) and act as if she isn't cheating.... and take offense at being suspected and dump him.

But what if he said, "I hate what they are saying about you. I know you're true to me-- why would they say such things?" Or, "If you wanted to end it, you would. You wouldn't string me along and go behind my back. You're not that kind of girl." Or "The next guy who says something like that, I'm gonna pop him in the face, even if they do kick me out of school." And watch her reaction.

In any case, he sees no way out except to keep saying "I won't believe them, I don't believe them" to them, and to himself. But not to her. You have to wonder why he doesn't find some way to bring it up with the person he wants to be with "eternally."

Maybe he, as Shakespeare had it, protests to much. Maybe seven "Nos" is a few to many. Maybe, on some inner level he doesn't want to examine, he does believe them. A little. Enough for it to bother him a lot.

No, they can't be right. Then he is a fool, and the one he loves is a cheater, and all those jerks are vindicated. That would be truly unthinkable. And so he doesn't allow himself to think it.

Playing devil's advocate, why would they all lie, though? For one thing, why would they bother to spend so much energy breaking up a relationship? Tarnishing her reputation and destroying his faith? Well, anyone who has spent five minutes around adolescents knows the answer. Because they can. For fun.

If they really cared about him, they would take him aside and speak in whispers, not throw it in his face at the cafeteria like so much food-fight meatloaf.

It's very hard to defeat a rumor. Some persist for centuries, despite mountains of evidence. There is so much dishonesty in human relationships that, sadly, we expect it instead of truth.

Next Song: Wild Flowers

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