This is a descriptive term that describes the following real-life story.
My best friend in the whole wide world is V. She's awesome in a million ways - good hearted, animal-lover, realist, self-aware, devoid the slightest bit of overt hypocrisy and is always striving to do better.
Anyhoo, last year V tells me that her brother and sister-in-law's development project in Atlanta fell apart and that her sister-in-law's sister is going to sue them because they'd deposited 30K into a house that never materialized and that she had solid legal ground on which to sue them. Now, we're not talking about people in the Trump sphere where they can sue one another for tens of millions and still be friends 'cause it's a pittance and the win is merely for bragging rights. No, these are normal people who were hit hard with the housing crisis we're now in and last year, they put their last few bucks into starting the Atlanta development which fell apart. They were left penniless themselves when the project crashed. So they didn't have the 30K to return to the sister.
Oh and here's the gravy on this story - V's sister-in-law is suffering IF so they had to come up with 20K last year for a round of IVF in their only bid to conceive - and now they were going to be sued by the sister.
So last fall V tells me that her sister-in-law was going to spend Thanksgiving at her sister's house (the sister who was suing her and her husband for 30K) and I said "V, I find it very hard to believe that she is going to enjoy a social event with the sister who is suing her." Again, I'm not saying she shouldn't be sued, just that it would be difficult to spend time with someone who was causing you pain - justified or not. V said that her sister-in-law was madly in love with her young niece and told V that no matter what, that she could never cut them out of her life because"family is family," etc.
I remember my response as clearly as if I'd just said it, "V, has your sister-in-law had to write a check to a lawyer regarding the lawsuit yet?" and V said "I don't know, why?" I said "find that out and then we'll talk." I told her I would enter into a 1K bet that her sister-in-law hasn't had to write one single retainer check to the lawyer yet, not a single dollar. I said, "I don't care if she gave her sister her eggs that produced her niece, if she has had to write a retainer check to her lawyer brought on by her sister's lawsuit, that's when I'll believe 'family is family'."
V didn't feel strongly about this. Weeks later I got a call, "you're right - she didn't fund the defense for the suit - it's being handled by the lawyer of the developer."
There you have it folks. I knew it. There is no way you're going to tell me that if I'm a working class stiff like everyone else and my only sister sues me, no matter how much I "adore" her and my niece and no matter how family-oriented I am and no matter how justified the lawsuit is, there is no way I am going to remain in a loving relationship with the person who is costing me much-needed money directly out of my checking account - money that could have funded my IVF, money that could have funded a much-needed new car, money that could have saved me from financial ruin.
Hey, it's possible, of course. This is a great big world with millions of personality types. But I was willing to bet good money that odds are in your favor you'll never find someone quite that "understanding" and objective.
Somehow, I just knew V's sister-in-law hadn't forked cash over to a lawyer to defend herself from her own sister as a plaintiff and was still willing to break bread across from her at the holiday table.
So when people tell you a story that's oh-so-hard to believe, find out first if they've actually had to "write the check" yet.