AMBER FREY'S BOOK AND HJNTIY
A few weeks ago, I caught Amber Frey on Oprah; in promotion of her new book, Witness for the Prosecution, she shared the details of her involvement with the currently death-row-dwelling Scott Peterson. For various reasons, it was a truly appalling display.
Oprah made some interview choices that were alternately cruel and journalistically responsible. She asked Amber if she was in her right mind when she slept with Scott on the first date. She questioned Amber's intuition when she allowed Scott to pick up her daughter from school after she'd known him only a few days. Given what we know about Scott Peterson now, this understandably brought Amber to tears and forced rational audience members to ask ourselves if, faced with "the perfect guy," we would think twice or leap in head-first. Oprah's choice as an interviewer was to be less of a sympathetic ear, and instead user Amber more as an example of what not to do.
Now this article points out how Amber's new book is, in some way, the "evil twin" of He's Just Not That Into You. Although I hadn't thought about this before, it's a valid point. "It's a case study of the misguided thinking of a sector of the female population that quickly abandons common sense in the quest for fantasy romance," the article says. The article suggests a few safety precautions the single mother might have employed to make sure that she and her daughter were getting involved with someone trustworthy:
She might have Googled her new boyfriend whose home she'd never visited nor been invited to. Or she might have listened to her pal, Richard the Fresno cop, who said, ``You know why he calls you `sweetie?' It's because he doesn't want to get your name wrong. He doesn't want to confuse you with all of his other sweeties.''
Not a bad idea, either of them.
But what's the lesson for singles? What's the line between optimism/trust and self-delusion/naivete? How do we dare to open our hearts and trust someone new, when danger lurks behind every devilishly handsome smile? How do we know people are who they say they are? Do we demand references and background checks for our dates? Is Googling them enough? By exercising caution, are we distrusting our potential partners?
In the portions of the Frey/Peterson romance read on Oprah, the warning signs are clearly and glaringly present. Listening to Amber's account of the whirlwind of falling in love with the man who was pronounced murderer by a jury of his peers was like watching a piano falling off a roof and plummet toward an unsuspecting pedestrian who can only look up, and doesn't realize what is happening. You know that even if you yell "look out!" your warning will be too late.
Swept away by the promise of a beautiful, transporting romance, Amber made some bad choices, and never imagined that those choices would be subject to be entered into the court records and criticized by the entire country. Our own romantic choices might not be subject to entry by a court stenographer, but they might not hold up under scrutiny by a jury of our peers, either.
There's a fine line between trusting a stranger with the entirety of your heart and making small revelations that help to build the foundations of a relationship. And I hope that all of us--myself included--are smart enough to draw that line for ourselves in our dating relationships: to recognize the suspicious and potentially dangerous while daring to trust the people who have proven themselves worthy.