Shocked and dismayed, you reflexively respond to him alone with a firm “chill out” and “back down” message, while asking why he would include the guys from your group in this conversation. This response lights him up like a match thrown into a puddle of gasoline. In a fit of indignant anger, he demands that you return the watch to him so he can disprove your “baseless and vindictive” allegations.
Following your well-meaning attempts to calm him down, diffuse his defensiveness and get him to stop blaming you, you notice that his personality shifts to one that is aloof, cold, and disinterested in hearing anything more about your experience of disappointment. Being confused and stunned by the sum total of his anger and apparent retaliation for your simple heads-up about the watch, you naturally comply by returning the watch to him. You don’t dare challenge his bizarre request because its abundantly clear that doing so would trigger him to an even higher level of histrionic and displaced anger. Plus, you are already embarrassed because all the guys in your group are now privy to this private matter. Little did you know that, by returning the watch, you also forfeited any possibility of clearing your name and restoring your reputation that has been tarnished by this unfortunate and unfair smear campaign.