Tag Archives: consent

“(He) Said, (She) Said” – why is getting the last word so important?

he-said-she-saidWhat is it about getting the last word? Sometimes people don’t care if they are right or wrong, or how much they hurt each other or themselves. Ending a conversation, or hurtful action, on a dismissive note  is all they need. That’s why getting the last word is so important: it reinforces who you are, that you matter, and that your vision of the world is the true one. (To hell with someone else!)

Such is the case with the two characters, young professionals Danny and Meredith, in the second story of my first collection of three stories, Trio 1, The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes. As the title suggests, who do you believe? It’s a ‘he said, she said’ situation. But doesn’t the person with the last word often get to re-write what happened? Isn’t history written by the victors, and the quieter, smaller voice, gets erased?

Danny and Meredith, old school fiends who lost touch during ‘the university years,’ meet up for a drink in a London pub. They were never romantically linked, but outside of the friendship circles of their younger days, dressed formally and working, and with a little alcohol in their bellies, perhaps now is good as time as ever. But do sparks fly, or signals get misread? Are they being friendly, too friendly, or just plain abusive?

And who do you trust? Who encourages whom? Who gets seduced, and who goes along for the ride? Everything looks so much worse in the morning, when explanations are needed, and self-justifications. Social shame can be a powerful force, not to mention having to text with the same person the morning after about the night before. Who wants that?

To see how far Danny and Meredith go in the battle of the sexes (and of whose story is to be believed), my website has the first page of “(He) Said, (She) Said.”

More importantly, will they talk again after the fact?

Introducing “(He) Said, (She) Said” (Trio 1, Story 2)

beer-wineThis story was influenced by a 2014 court case at the Old Bailey, London in which a public schoolboy was accused of raping an ex-classmate. There were also a spate of similar stories in the US, often on college campuses or fraternity houses, and a debate grew around the subject, particularly the idea of consent. (According to the University of Georgia’s University Health Center, “consent is sexy,” the strange notion of using sexual appeal in trying to get college kids excited about asking permission.)

The accused man in the London case, Archie Reed, was eventually cleared of all charges, which is not to say that plenty of cases have judgement passed that neither side feels satisfied by. There must always be a friction in such cases, two sides to one story, often taking place in confined space and time, and yet resulting in such polarizing, violently different interpretations, especially once the law gets involved.

In effect, the story “(He) Said, (She) Said” grew out of these media stories, particularly the Archie Reed case, although ultimately the story’s intent is to remain finely balanced over the question of guilt, on both sides, as well as other ideas of reconciliation, remorse, memory, and reputation, especially among friends.

It’s an ominous subject, and yet certain absurdities are revealed from such cases, especially in the case of an acquittal. They becomes tales of character and personalities, of people unleashing forces more powerful than their ability to control — forces of social, legal, and individual judgement.

Judge for yourselves!