I was eating peanuts off the floorboard of my car yesterday when I had an epiphany.
The bag I had bought from the station vending machine had split open and spilled as I was driving to a shoot. As I was picking up the 5th or 6th peanut, brushing it off and popping it in my mouth, I thought, If I caused a wreck right now, I would be that ‘floorboard peanut eating TV lady who caused that awful crash.’
The peanuts made me think of Brian Williams — Brian Williams and pretty much every other person who has suffered a public fall from grace because of their actions.
This is what we do. We attach a tag line to people in trouble. Actually, we attach tag lines to all people, all the time, trouble or no trouble.
I am queen of this. Allow me to show you. For example, there is that vicious newsroom gossip, that horrible hateful pundit who spews vitriol, that self absorbed mom who won’t let me get a word into any conversation. These are all real people — that I know.
Is it possible that the gossip loves her mother, that the pundit gives money to charity, that the self absorbed mother is lonely and wants someone to listen to her? Well yes, of course it is.
Do I want to think about that? No! Because then they would be human, then they would be like me, and that would mean **gasp!** we are more alike than different.
I’m not saying people shouldn’t suffer consequences for their actions.
I am saying that defining a person’s life by a mistake or a character flaw is a super easy way to make sure that we keep our lives separated into them and us.
Them are the liars, the cheats, the blowhards, the gossips, the malcontents.
Us? Well — all that matters is we are not them. We are so much more than them. I’m a longtime journalist, a happily married mama who wrote and delivered her grandmother’s eulogy and makes a mean crab cake.
I am also horribly, seriously flawed in ways I will never confess here.
My life is big and messy (ie. floorboard snacking) and perfect for me.
It’s also fragile enough to be blown apart by a gravel covered peanut.