In a small town in Arkansas, I was leaving a social gathering of divorced women who had found solidarity in their situations. Many are women who, later in life, have found themselves divorced from influential men.
And, as far as I could decipher, none of the divorces were of their choosing.
I was in town for a speaking engagement and had been asked to join them for their monthly gathering of pot luck and chit-chat, because I am friends with one of the ladies.
At the door, one of the women grabbed my arm and said, "I love all your books, but the best thing I have read is something you said in your first book."
"What's that?" I asked.
"You said that any self-respecting, smart Southern woman never talks bad about her ex, because we don't want the rest of the world to know how stupid we were to marry him in the first place! Amen, sister!"
All of the women and I threw back our heads and laughed. It's so true, you know. Bad mouthing an ex-husband or boyfriend looks as bad for the woman as it does for him. What does that say about her judgment and common sense?
This I thought of when I received an e-mail from a reader who admitted that she is such a fan that she once dated a man, just because he had told her that he once dated me. She concluded sweetly, "I now know why you no longer date him."
Curiosity has killed more than one cat. Something I think of every time I watch the orphaned cats I took in, snooping around the yard or garage in a nosy way. So, like Itty Bitty Kitty or Mississippi Kitty, I had to be nosy. I had to know which one from the Rolodex of my life's dates, she was talking about.
I responded, "I have dated a couple of nuts. Which one are you referring to?" I was pretty sure I knew, but in life and dating, I have learned not to assume.
Bingo. Right on the nose. I was right. It was exactly who I thought.
Then, just like a couple of men, she and I began comparing notes in an enthusiastic manner, and it was all eerily similar. Same excuses. Same behavior. Same last-minute cancellations. Same lack of respect. Now, to both of our credits, I would like to point out that we did not marry him or even consider such, nor did either of us tarry very long in a dating situation with him.
By the grace of God, we got out lickety split.
You would think less of me, if I were anything less than honest. You've come to expect that of me, because I candidly lay out the details of my life. We have no secrets, you and I. In that regard, I'll admit that dating such a rascal doesn't look good for either her or me. We made a mistake in judgment, but we quickly corrected it. We both agree, though, that this blemish on our dating life is a bit embarrassing.
Still, it reminds me of one of the great lessons I have learned in life: Be careful who you date, because it reflects back on you. It lingers like the dew on a spring morning and will always cling to you a bit. We all make mistakes in judgment.
Too, I have learned that you can't count on the opinions of folks who make introductions. There have been a couple of times when I uncovered someone totally different than the person they knew. These things happen.
When it's all said and done, take it on the chin and keep your mouth shut. You don't want to look any worse than you may already look.
Remember that the next time your girlfriend wants to talk bad about her ex-husband.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of "What Southern Women Know About Faith." Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her weekly newsletter.