When planning for our wedding, my MIL provided lots of referrals to me. She had distant relatives that were florists, photographers, caterers. She promoted all of them to me, gushing their praises.
“Ben is a great photographer. He did the photography for Kristin’s wedding and it turned out lovely,” she wrote to me in an email. “He’s even done work for National Geographic!”
My MIL was quickly learning how to get my attention. She knew I liked doing photography as a hobby and that I took it seriously. My ears perked up at National Geographic.
He must really be a good photographer, I thought.
“Really?” I responded. “How cool!”
MIL supplied me with Ben’s contact information and I reached out to him. He suggested that we meet at his office to see some of his portfolios.
When the day came, I arrived at the office and greeted him. As I found after chatting with him for a bit, he was a great guy, very easy going. We talked through ideas and prices. Unless his work was terrible, I was certain I was going to use him for the wedding.
Ben pulled out his photography portfolios and we began flipping through them. Much of the work was portraits and landscapes, and was all very good.
As I neared the end of flipping through his portfolio pages, I asked, “Which photos did you do for National Geographic?”
He looked at me with a slightly amused smile, “National Geographic?”
I smiled back, “Yeah, Lilith told me you did work for National Geographic.”
His smile, and his look of amusement, slowly grew a bit. After a pause he replied, “I’ve never done any work for National Geographic.”
I smiled and laughed, “Oh, I must have misunderstood something Lilith said. Nevermind.”
The conversation moved on, but a small knot grew in my stomach. I briefly wondered, did MIL make that up to try and sell me on using him as our wedding photographer?
During my next encounter with MIL, I brought it up. “Oh hey, I’ve been meaning to tell you – Ben said he’s never done any work for National Geographic.”
“What?” she asked with a sudden frown.
“Ben, your relative that does photography.” I said, “I met with him the other day to talk about being our wedding photographer and he showed me his portfolios. You had told me he did work for National Geographic, so I asked him what photos they used. He said he’d never done any work for them.”
My MIL looked exasperated and shook her head at me, “No, you misunderstood. I never said he did work for National Geographic. I said his work looked like it could be in National Geographic.”
For a moment I was thrown off. “Oh, I guess I did misunderstand,” I said, feeling confused.
Jack had previously warned me before that his mom will do anything to “win” an argument, including making up things. The confusion ate at me, I was pretty certain she had said that he had done work for National Geographic. So later that night, when I was home, I checked.
Sure enough, there it was in black and white. “He’s even done work for National Geographic!” she crowed her email.
I sighed, made a mental note of everything that had happened, and moved on.