I have an opinion on everything. When I played youth hockey (ice not field) my coach came up to my mom and told her, “I’ve never met a more opinionated child.” I didn’t think I was– in fact, in my family I was downright demure. Quiet. Reticent. All of this of course was only in comparison to others, and as I’ve grown I’ve come to have “takes” on just about. The one thing I can’t seem to reach any conclusion on is cheating.
My family was broken and recreated by my father’s own cheating, which started only 10 days before I was born if my math is correct. Many of my close family members have cheated and do cheat. Cheating to me has always seemed normal. And vile. And completely understandable. And unfathomable. And exceptional.
Most mornings one of the first things I do is log into Reddit Relationships and read about other people’s infidelity. How’d you get there? What made you do it? Is it forgivable? Should you confess? Does it make you a bad person?
For the last question, I can almost without a doubt answer that it does not. After all, my own father whom I love dearly and look up to immensely has done it, and I don’t think he’s a bad human.
However, I can’t get over the idea that if you knowingly hurt someone, if you knowingly do bad, you’re bad. You’ve chosen. Maybe it’s not forever, and certainly no person is a monolith. But how are you to redeemed and by whom? Is redemption even possible? Even necessary? After all, don’t we all make mistakes. Or is a moral mistake not a mistake?
As I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s Blackmail (1929), I couldn’t move on from the story’s initial deceit: the main character, Alice White, plays mind games with her beau, Frank Webber, until he gets fed up and leaves, making room for another man (Mr. Crewe) to join her. The movie doesn’t address why Alice wants Mr. Crewe’s affections in addition to those of Mr. Webber. And in fact, upon finding out that Alice has cheated, Mr. Webber doesn’t seem to care much – he’s too involved with the fact that Alice has killed Mr. Crewe in self-defense. But I cared.
Alice: Why didn’t you break up with Frank before going off with Mr. Crewe?
Frank: What made you want to stay with and defend this woman who has so wronged you? Did you forgive her? Why?
Ultimately, Alice lets another man take responsibility for the murder and shows no hint of remorse.
The lack of empathy that allows you to cheat and the lack of empathy that allows you to let someone else take the fall for the crime: are the two things related?
I suppose cheating isn’t damning, it just shows who you are, and what you’re capable of.
Sophia Benoit is a comedian living in Los Angeles. In her six years on Twitter she’s amassed nearly 60,000 subscribers. She’s 24 and has apparently been working on a book for three years now. She knows every line of dialogue in The Grinch.