I’ve been trying to decide how to write this blog all morning. I didn’t even write the blog yesterday – my head was not in the right space. I’m sure some are wondering what could have happened, still others think they know, as they continue reading with a knowing, unkind smirk.
A very wise ex-band member once said that you should never meet your idols because they almost always disappoint. Maybe so, maybe so. In that sense I guess I’m lucky – I haven’t met the band with the exception of one – and in that case I met him before I idolized him. The situation there is different. Has their been disappointment at times otherwise – even without having met? Yes, I’m talking about with this band specifically. Sure. That’s life though. We struggle sometimes with decisions and judgment calls that others make. We wish that they could see things the way we see them. The fact of the matter is though, we can’t really see things the way they do, either. No matter the case, it’s not always easy to give one another a little grace. I see that here based on the comments I receive on the blog quite often. Duranies are horrible at cutting one another slack. We’re hard on one another. It’s a tough world to be in, and I’m no better at it than anybody else, as some of you are so fond of pointing out. Even so, I think anybody has the ability to disappoint once in a while. Perception is everything. It boils down to balance. What are you willing to give and what are you willing to take in return, which is something I’ve been struggling with as of late. The question I’ve been struggling with for the last 14 hours, give or take – is what to do when that someone is somebody you’ve already met. Someone you know, someone you deeply love and respect. What then?
Last night, a very dear friend of mine from high school made the effort to find and contact me on Facebook. I happened to be online, which is unusual for me at the time he found me. Anyway, he said he needed to deliver some news. I knew something was up when he asked if I’d been following a news story here in LA about a Sheriff’s Deputy that had been charged with sexual contact with a 15 year old girl. I had heard about the story, but I hadn’t really thought much of it. So he shoots over a link to the story and warns me of what I’m about to see. I clicked on the link and immediately realized it wasn’t just someone I knew, but it was one of our closest friends from high school. This deputy wasn’t just some anonymous face, but someone that I knew, loved, and deeply respected. He was like a brother to me. He was one of the very few people I took time to go hug on graduation night, and he is one of the handful that I tried to keep track of over the years. The shock that came over me was incredible, and it is still coming in waves. I just couldn’t believe it. I’m not sure I can even now. My friend said “You’re speechless, aren’t you? This is OUR John.” Yes. Yes I was speechless. Yes I am. I didn’t know what to say or how to feel. This guy is being charged with 17 felony counts of sexual misconduct with a minor. A 15 year old girl. The individual charges are heinous at best. I can’t get over it. He has a son that is the same age as my son. I know this because his wife and I were pregnant at the same time. Truthfully, we’d lost touch as each of us gave birth – I mean at that point I had two children under the age of three, and there’s no time for chatting when you’ve got that going on, but I’d always wondered how he and his family were doing. A few years back or so I saw he’d been awarded a Medal of Valor at work for saving a woman (who was suicidal) and her children from a fire. I was so proud of him because that’s exactly who he is. That’s the kind of person I’ve ALWAYS known him to be. This man, who sat in a courtroom yesterday with a yellow jumpsuit on is not the guy I know. Not at all. So I struggle. I can’t imagine what his wife must be going through…or his son…or his father, who was a pillar of our community growing up. And naturally, I can’t wrap my head around how the family of that young girl must feel. I really can’t. I’m a mom of a teenage girl. If someone like that was with my daughter or any one of my children – well, I’d end up in prison myself because I’d be after them relentlessly.
I’m having such a horrible time trying to understand how someone can change that much – because the guy I knew wouldn’t have done this. No way. As I was mulling over this last night, a vague memory came back to me from high school: the guy I had been dating at the time hit me in the school parking lot (oddly, we’d broken up that same day…gosh, I wonder why) and John saw it, unfortunately. As I was running into the band room after the incident John was running to grab the guy and probably tear him to pieces – but he took off in his car before John got to him. (probably the best thing that could have happened). I doubt John even remembers that, but I do. He came flying into that band room and got right in my face. He pointed his finger at me and told me that there was no way I was going out with that guy again. No, John and I never dated. It wasn’t that kind of friendship. He was just that kind of guy. And then this. I can’t understand it, I don’t know what he was thinking, and since he’s only been charged – I really don’t know how much of it is true. My sister, ever the attorney and optimist, told me this morning that it could be a whole lot of nothing. “They’re only charges, Rhonda“, she said. I suppose that’s possible, except that the department completely stripped him of his badge and gun and placed him on leave without pay. Our department here is notorious for standing by their guy until the very end – paying them all the way up until they can’t justify doing so any longer. Given that they are taking incredibly large steps backward from him – even on the news – makes me think it’s a pretty slim chance that it was nothing. His life, and the lives of everyone involved are forever changed if not ruined. He faces up to 13 years in prison. For what?
I did idolize John, absolutely so. I always felt he should go into politics. He was smart, good-natured, and did everything to the very best of his ability. He was just cocky enough to go the distance, but his family insisted that law enforcement was the way to go – its a family thing – and John didn’t want to disappoint, so that’s what he chose. I always felt he could do so much more. And he did, by earning a zillion accolades and being amazing. John never did anything wrong. If he played water polo, he was the best at it. In school, he was a straight A honors student. In the Demolays (A Masonic Fraternal organization here in the states) he was the highest rank. Until now. Maybe he finally decided to do something incredibly stupid and wrong. As I said last night, this has made me question everything I thought I knew, in a way that only things like this can. Please don’t get me wrong – I think what he did was absolutely disgusting and the fact that he used his position authority as some sort of mechanism to get it makes it so much worse. I am just having trouble uniting the John I knew with this disgusting piece of humanity that did this to this poor girl. I need to get a handle on reconciling all of this, and I’m sure I’m not the only one of his friends to feel that way.
So, when I think back on meeting my idols and knowing that they’ll probably disappoint – the fact is, we ALL disappoint one another at some point or another. None of us are perfect. I’m certainly not. I have many, many faults – a lot of which I’ve named here at one point or another. I think the problem is that when you idolize someone, it’s natural to assume they’re perfect. It’s the fantasized image of them that remains in our hearts and in our minds in their absence. I think most everyone tries their best, but sometimes we falter. Sometimes we falter in tiny ways, and other times – we falter in ways that ruin the lives of people around us. Humans are faulty. Our idols (in the case of this particular blog) are just humans. Really good looking, rock star humans.