Single-Minded: John Edwards, Rielle Hunter and Why Telling All Is Never a Good Idea

Sometimes setting the record straight has nothing to do with truth telling—and everything to do with staking out territory that wasn't yours in the first place.

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helenaedwards1
GQ

For some women, life would be easier with a penis. That way, whenever they wanted to lay unequivocal claim to that which is theirs, all they would have to do is unzip their skinny jeans, pull out the necessary equipment and pee. They wouldn't have to fuss with Facebook walls, Times Square billboards or GQ magazine.

But then again the rest of us wouldn't get the crazy cacophony of quotables that was Rielle Hunter's recent Q & A with Gentleman's Quarterly, a public pee shower if there ever was one. The ex-mistress of ex-presidential candidate John Edwards spent thousands of words to tell America (and Elizabeth Edwards) how much Johnny loves her. Just a few months back, another jump-off with a gigantic mouth, YaVaughnie Wilkins, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to show Times Square her love story co-starring the very married Oracle exec Charles Philips.

Besides being crazy, both women have one thing in common: They've got a married woman's taste on a mistress' back and when that bubble burst, something besides tears came tumbling out. Revenge is now a dish best served chilled with over share. And what's more, as part of their well-timed TMIs, both Rielle and YaVaughnie sought to recast themselves, leaping from the role of side piece to super hero, fighting for truth, justice and the American way.

"I'm not a mistress by nature. It's a role that I took on because I fell in love with him. And that was the role that was available to me," Hunter told GQ's Lisa DePaulo in a no-holds-barred interview for the magazine's April issue. She then elaborated on their profound connection, the divine timing of their love child, how she feels sorry for the current Mrs. Edwards and what she believes is the former politician's true calling: "I believe he's more aligned with being a humanitarian. That suits his true nature. Just like I wasn't a mistress," explained Hunter, whose business card purportedly read, TRUTH SEEKER, but according to Hunter, actually read BEING FREE.

The confusion makes a lot of sense, considering how, in this case, the "truth" entraps more than it frees.  Now, "Johnny," who in January finally admitted in a statement released to NBC's Today Show, "it was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter and hopefully one day ... will forgive me" is stuck. Hunter claims that his admission gave her the go-ahead to tell her story to the press and set the record straight. But everyone knows that the setting straight of records is less a public service than other women would have you believe.

When I was 23 and dangerously in love with a man who definitely liked me a lot, I spent an entire work day crafting an e-mail that started with this line, "I don't know what he's been telling you, but this is what this asshole's been telling me ..."

See, my boyfriend at the time was participating in some evasive behaviors. One weekend when he supposedly had to work in a city with apparently no cell phone service, I called, typed and texted him. No response. Three days later, he wrote back something about losing his phone temporarily. Right.

So in a brief moment of clarity (or insanity), I forwarded all of the mushy love e-mails he'd ever sent me to all the women in his contact list. The next day, he had to explain to his mother, aunts and a few other lovers why some maniac had hacked into his e-mail account and sent a message that ended with the phrase, "Do with this info what you must."  (Sure, he was enraged, but that mass e-mail was my Dear John equivalent.)

It was childish. It was most likely illegal. And it felt very, very good. I imagined myself a hero then, saving these clueless women from the same sleepless nights and puffy-faced mornings I'd been having. Wasn't ripping the BandAid off his lies the noble thing to do? Or did I want to justify our love by forcing other people to read about it? Truth is, I know lots of people, who in the age of notebook love consider it their part-time job to report love lost or gained on the constant ticker that is Facebook, Twitter and whatever else is hot in the streets.

A good friend, who is now engaged and happy and etc., once confronted a woman who was getting inappropriately close to her man at the time, but she eventually found the whole exercise embarrassing and actually sort of incestuous.

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Sept. 19 2014 8:34 AM