Cause for Pause

JANUARY 2, 2010 11:16AM

Betrayal Twice Removed

Rate: 6 Flag
If you're there, Pete ... call me. 

I have a celebrity last name. Savvy strangers assume a connection to that fame.  Most of the time, when they hear it, they cannot help themselves, and ask instantly and directly how or if 'we' are related. Happens nearly every time I say my name. 

Tell a banker that your last name is Rockefeller, or let a War'shington insider hear your surname as Obama.  Watch what happens.  

A person I loved very much used that feed, took my name and betrayed not only a trust, but a relationship, the after effects of which have lasted 22 years, until today. 



Pete, a brilliant writer, was blocked on a rough manuscript for over three years. To help him out of that dormancy, I offered to edit and prepare his book for publication.  He took me up on the offer and brought it tucked safely in a brown paper grocery sack -- all mixed up.

A month later, he took his new, neatly organized, 3-ring binder filled with a First Draft, made quick changes and self-published.  

In typical "Pete-the-Publicist" style, he managed guest appearances on Sally Jesse RaphaelThe Phil Donahue Show and Morton Downey Late Night. I have the tapes.

Before his first appearance, we role-played possible on air-questions at my dining room table. Needless to say, our investment in each other, in our friendship and in his book was not light.

 The book did well at first. 

Sales began to wane as he conjured new ways to increase his profits. One creative marketing technique, free, was to get high visibility in the now defunct, Houston Post, 7th largest newspaper in the US. 

Ken Hoffman's column had a huge following and a distinct draw.  Everybody knew it – get a letter in the Post, and watch your ratings...and sales...escalate. Fast.  It was hard enough to get one letter published, let alone two.

Pete timed his submissions for the sole purpose of getting the letters published  on high circulation dates, aka, Sundays.

He was good at working a plan. 

Pete knew I rarely had time in those days to read the Post, so a letter for Hoffman's column would go unnoticed, he thought.  It was a beautiful set up. 

The first fictitious letter asked for help in 'dealing with a struggling marriage.' Fatal flaw: I was single.

I missed the first, but I certainly did not miss the second ... where he skillfully thanked the columnist, in my persona, for 'steering' ME in my "search for answers" to his all-capped, waning-in-sales and bolded, book title

Divorced debutantes added his title to their coffers, just so they could mention Hoffman's 'recommendation', at the next social event, where Ken more than likely was in attendance. 

People love celebrity.

Story short: Pete took something precious from me, albeit short-lived; he used my name and created a whole life for me in those letters.

Stupid move.  

During an In-Service seminar that week, wish you could have heard a colleague congratulating me about my letter in the Post the day before. After a bit of confusion,stunned disbelief and argumentation on my part, I asked two questions and knew what Pete had done –

(1) "Did the letter have anything to do with a book title?" and

(2) "Did it happen to mention a local author?"...


"Why YES! That's the one. So it was yours, BR!" 

I raced home, got the Post, saw the letter and reference of another, short as they were, and called Hoffman, demanding disclaimers.  Hoffman called me back after talking to Pete who, of course, denied the ruse. If he hadn't, he and the Post as well, could have faced some very stiff fines, and possibly litigation if I'd pressed the issue. The problem: I couldn't prove this perfect crime and they knew it.  Especially Pete.   

Hoffman's return call response:  "Mr. D" has no knowledge of any letter, and feels very badly that this has happened. He sends his deepest regrets.  In consolation, he wants to send you an autographed copy of his book." Hoffman even offered to be a celebrity guest at our next "Career Fair" as another consolation. What a prize, you say?

My flashing response: "Mr. HOFF-man, I have the original in a brown paper bag in my closet as we speak, remnants of the book that I personally edited for "MR. D." 

Tell him this: I do not want or need his gift of remorse.

I wish I could remember word-for-word what I said in the final confrontation.  It went something like: "I will write an article for a rival column, and create a whole life for you, Pete – and as you know, it will get published. Only mine will be much longer, and more detailed.  Call it war if you like, friend.  Which do you prefer, the pen or the sword?"  

His cavalier response set the betrayal in stone: "Well, BR, some publicity is better than none at all!" 

He used my name, not my writings, thinking no one would be the wiser. 

His wife called about 8 years after the 'break up' and simply asked, "Is it over, yet?"

I know he was standing by the phone letting her test the waters, but I told her that the multiple betrayals were too great, where they have remained for twenty-two years.

Recently, a person I barely knew betrayed my trust, and the trust of several of my friends. The confrontation was simple and almost mono-syllabic:  I asked him directly about the betrayal, and he responded directly with a heart-felt, remorse-driven reply.  His sincerity convinced me, just like that.

Reading his words of remorse rang true, and with a flick of the wrist, it was over. Just like that.   I forgave his stupidity, if that's really possible to do.  I even think I told him he should be 'horse-whipped, drawn and quartered,' but left him with the notion that it was futile because he was mercilessly doing it to himself. 

I never gave Pete that chance... for 22 years.

The one I loved, I banished from my life.  The one I didn't, was accepted with no reservations.   Just like that.

Last week, conflicted, I e-mailed Pete from his website under "Contact Us" using a pseudonym. No response. Last night I braved a call, but had to leave a message on his recorder. I don't know even if he is alive.  

If you're reading this, Pete -- "Yeah, it's over." Call me.

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It's definitely over.
yeah, I'd have to agree.
Hmm. I think that you were wise to stay away from Pete, *has* been so long....maybe he's dunno...
I think you're right, Delia...
I hope Pete reads this. Even the Petes of the world must have a bone of conscience, no matter how deeply burried.
I don't know, you sound a bit like a drama queen. It also doesn't sound like you did all that much for his book, except put it in a 3 ring binder. I'm going with professional jealousy as the explanation for your breathless screed.
Well, now.

Welcome to OS, Mr. Accrington. I think.

P. S. Is your first name Pete?
Why play old songs when there are so many new ones to enjoy? You ditched him because he was an asshole and if the play started over tomorrow the roles would only be different for a few scenes. I also am so sad when women abuse themselves.
Did you read my first, second and third comments, Dr. Spud?

This revelation happened well over a year ago. He returned my call. We chatted for 30 minutes, caught up and laughed like no time had lapsed.

I didn't bring IT up and he didn't either. It's done and my first comment: "It's definitely over," takes on a different slant, doesn't it?

To me, coming to terms with wrongs and attempting to bring closure to them is never self-flagellation. I grew that day.
Sorry I did get it right...Yes, forgiveness is a good thing. So I am happy for you.
So the evil Pete faked a letter praising his book, but signed it with your last name, and some doofus in Hicksvillethen ran the fake letter in his column.

And you're still fretting about it. First of all, getting a letter printed in a Houston newspaper is not the pathway to riches that you seem to think. Of the small number of Houstonians who can read, most are too poor to afford a newpaper. (Which is why the Post went bust). And of the people who can both read and afford a newspaper in Houston, hardly any of them care about saps who are obviously puffing some book, whether it is the author himself, or his erstwhile friends with celebrity last names.

It's barely worth talking about, and certainly not worth pitching a hissy fit over. Tell him to use a different pseudonym next time (why didn't he do that in the first place?)
If you knew my last name, Stan, you'd have to delete your entire comment. ;)

You've got a great piece of fiction about Houston goin' on there, though.


P. S. Your voice is very familiar, by the way.
I might add that this revelation is not about Pete. It's about the title and the recognition therein.
Thanks for sharing your personal experiences between you and Pete. I'm glad that you're not holding any grude, despite what happened. I understand the feelings of betrayal...

Happy New Year, BTW!
I let go of this a long time ago, Kanuk. And really, hadn't given it much thought in years until the second event. Thinking about the differences in the two registered as somewhat of an epiphany at the time.
Forgiveness is hard to discover. Understanding the reasons for one's missteps is necessary to move on. Life is too short.
I agree, Chuck - and sometimes it takes a lifetime.
All I can think of that will seem so goofy is`
Pete? Pete at the farm was a bantam hen.
Barnyard stock at farms get odd names.
Male sheep get named Lucy. Male pup?
I call`
I call`
Here lilac Bagel.

Male lab is a-`Ring-o.
Female poodle`Lu Lu.

Oh change a name`Ed?
Talking horse`Wilbur?
Neigh. heehaw. meow.
Love avatar`Blue Rose.
Capital Hill's hellholes-

Politicos`Ed F. Uckers.
I say name them`Fools.
Art - Lie lac Bagel. Perfect.

Love your images. Did you know that one of my nicknames (from former students) was Lu Lu? Cool.
Barkinglot - I never thought about Pete much over the years, until the second incident last year.

You're right. I've never seen a leopard change its spots.
Concerning the following from acrid accrington:
"It's barely worth talking about, and certainly not worth pitching a hissy fit over."
Those with no horse in the race or an empathy gene use this.
It's plagiarized from others who don't give a damn about others.
If you have suspicions that this may be the "pete", that's reasonable because this one sure sounds like it is/has a little 'peter".
I hope you can dump this issue where it belongs.
"Those with no horse in the race or an empathy gene use this.
It's plagiarized from others who don't give a damn about others.
If you have suspicions that this may be the "pete", that's reasonable because this one sure sounds like it is/has a little 'peter".
I hope you can dump this issue where it belongs."

XJS and Me: I think I love you. ;)

At first I thought the commenter had the same mettle as peter... but with the second comment, he reminded me of a ruthless troll from another writing site.
I really enjoyed this post.

Why do we read blogs if not for some vicarious appreciation for the trivial (and not so trivial) ups and downs of others' lives?

It floors me that some people have the time and energy to read a long, deeply personal post only to comment in a totally snarky and dismissive way.

Anyone who claims that you are wasting time or emotional energy dealing with these issues in this forum, really ought to take a long look in the mirror and evaluate their own reasons for being here and commenting.

"Mr. Pot, you have a call waiting on line two. A Mr. Kettle; he says its concerning your level of pigmentation".

Stan spoke of professional jealousy, and we shouldn't discount the possibility. Maybe Stan is a struggling writer who wishes he had a friend's reputation to co-opt?