My friend “Elyse Lombard” has been living in Boca Raton, along with her entire family, for almost 30 years. For at least the past 10 years, she’s been working in the family moving business as VP of Sales and Marketing, which affords her plenty of opportunities to meet all kinds of people and customers throughout South Florida. She’s also been actively involved in both the Boca Raton and Delray Beach Chambers of Commerce for as long as I can remember, having met her in early 2001 through a mutual friend.
A mover and shaker, “Elyse” is beautiful, smart, gregarious, charming and hard-working, and her family’s business is well-known and respected in the area. For this reason, it’s often very difficult for her to attend any sort of midday networking events, as she’s typically booked with at least five moving estimates per day. It’s all she can do to keep up with her early-morning leads group meetings at the chambers of commerce — and oftentimes, she exceeds the allowable absences, although she’s never asked to leave because she’s such a great networker.
But one day in January of this year, she was able to attend a luncheon event she’d previously declined when a customer canceled their scheduled appointment. Feeling very strongly that she would bump into “Erin” at this event (a woman she’d never met before), “Elyse” contacted me on the way to the venue to obtain “Erin’s” real name, which I then shared with her.
Did I mention “Elyse” is very intuitive and quite often correct in her hunches?
Later that afternoon, she called to breathlessly inform me that her psychic premonition had been right on target. Even stranger was the way in which it all went down: they didn’t simply “bump” into each other, “Erin” actually strode right up to my friend (who’d been chatting with a few other women) specifically to introduce herself — which is normally the kind of thing good networkers do at such gatherings.
And “Elyse” — in spite of her intuitive awareness — was still quite taken aback when it took place for real. She also thought it rather odd that for someone who’d gone out of her way to initiate an introduction, “Erin” exhibited a strange unfriendliness, a noticeable aloofness. To the best of my knowledge, she’d had no prior inkling of “Elyse’s” relationship to me, but this description coincided with the one put forth by my photographer friend’s friend — the woman who’d been unhappy with “Erin’s” professional services.
Speaking of which, soon after I hung up the phone with “Elyse”, my photographer friend called me on behalf of her friend — “Erin’s” former, dissatisfied client — to obtain “Elyse’s” phone number. Normally, I’d think nothing of it, but coming on the heels of what had just transpired at the business luncheon, I found it all very curious.
But the story doesn’t end there.
A few weeks later, “Elyse” had the good fortune of being able to attend yet another midday event (again, highly unusual for her), where she just happened to be seated diagonally across from “Erin”. She’d discovered this after greeting another mutual friend (who’d been assigned to the table directly behind her) and exclaiming in her boisterous, effervescent manner “Isn’t it great we’re both gonna be on Daria’s show!”, referring to The Liberty Belle Hour.
When “Elyse” took her seat, “Erin” (whom “Elyse” is fairly certain heard the exchange) kind of gave her a strange look. And apparently, throughout the course of the event, she kept trying to make eye contact with my friend, who kept averting her gaze. If memory serves correctly, I believe they did briefly say hello at some point.
Being the protective “older sister” she is, “Elyse” related her discomfort about the whole interaction and the thought of developing a professional association with “Erin”, but I assured her that business is business; there was no reason to feel awkward about talking to “Erin” at all. I am secure in our enduring friendship and have never been the kind of person who makes unreasonable demands like, “If you’re my friend you won’t talk to so-and-so”, or “If you’re really my friend, you’ll do this or that”. That’s not how I roll. Besides, I’ve done nothing wrong.
If anything, “Erin” should be ashamed of posing as her husband on a social media site and attempting to “trap” an innocent woman whose only “crime” was fictionalizing some real life events into a novel. I might further add that I also put myself through some pretty intense and nearly debilitating heartbreak by pretending to be thrilled when “Ken” asked me point-blank how I felt about his engagement back in 1995 — because I didn’t think it was fair to hurt a woman I didn’t even know.
Would the outcome have been different if I’d been honest with him? Well, as Maddy muses to herself in Chapter 19:
At least the reason for the change in the tone of his calls had been revealed, though Maddy couldn’t quite decipher the timeline of events. Not that it even mattered at this point. She wouldn’t dare hurt a woman she’d never met by coming clean with Ken about her real feelings, about how she still loved him deeply in spite of everything. Even if she did go out on that limb, there was no guarantee he’d return the sentiment, or assuming he did, break off his engagement to Erin to pursue a renewed relationship with her.
One other curious thing that also took place concurrently with the “Erin/Elyse” events I’ve described: another one of my friends happened to come over to my house one night, unexpectedly bearing a particular product that had been on sale at the store, thinking perhaps I could use it. This product just happens to bear the name of the person upon whom “Erin” is loosely based. Very interesting, indeed.
So 2010 certainly started out on an interesting note; funny that this all happened exactly one year after the LinkedIn incident and the Boca Raton Entrepreneur Meetup. In this town, six degrees of separation is simply a way of life.