It was the usual day at work. Bending over a drawing board sketching and rendering type and illustrations to sell a washer or automobile or house then the phone rang. The phone was shared by two artists in their cubicle bins and would swing back and forth for both to share. I don’t remember if I answered the phone or it was answered and then pushed to me.
“Hello” I said figuring it would be my wife because no one calls me at work. A blubbering voice came out of the other end with a confused message asking me to come straight home. I hung up the phone puzzled.
Since all the artist who were so close in proximity and desired by boredom, they noted my expression and asked if anything was wrong?
“It was my wife” I calmly yet perplexed said, “She is probably having an affair.”
Now some background to make sense of this improvable situation needs to be revealed. Several years earlier, I don’t remember how many, we had gotten married in a nice little wedding in a tourist town chapel with close family and friends. It seemed the perfect union, but there was no union. We lived together, but didn’t know each other.
Now back to the story.
I came home and walked up the long stairs to our second story apartment. My wife greeted me with tears of a secret she had kept from me for an unknown time. She was having an affair.
I sat quietly trying to take it all in. My mind raced in every direction with questions. “Who?” “When?” “Where?” all confused the moment. As I assimilated the information she continued to cry. I don’t remember any statement of “I’m sorry” or “I love you” but they could have been said.
My first question was “Do I know this person?” My worst thought was that this invader into my marriage was a friend. She said it was not one of our close friends we had enjoyed Christmas celebrations and wild flights of fantasy in college.
Before hearing any details I asked her to call the individual and invite him to join our conversation. Have him come over here. Now!
Little did I comprehend her anxiety of the request? Somewhere along our days together she must have asked, “What would I do if (some unknown person) was having an affair?” My response must have been drastic.
We sat in silence until there was a knock at the door. She stood up slowing and walked down the step to welcome this third character to this play. To my amazement, it was an older gentleman. The two walk timidly up the steps to meet whatever was to come next.
We gathered in the living room with certain pleasantries but no refreshments were offered. Both tried to explain the situation as they stumble over each other’s statements. Finally she became quiet and let him speak.
“I love her,” he said with some conviction without holder her hand and shyly glancing over and then back at me.
I didn’t want to hear an explanation or details of their meeting or reasons for her desire to wander. I was faced with a crossroad and had to make a decision.
“What do you two want to do?” was my question to the pair.
I found out that he was also married. He was somewhat older than we were with graying hair and a rumpled look. What surprised me the most was he was a school principle. The principle of the school she was teaching in.
He tried to soft-shoe around the levity of the situation with quirks and humor trying to divert the subject but I was laser on focused. This was a life changing moment to me and I was going to drag it out. It was painful to the couple but I could feel the power building.
If we were playing poker, I held all the cards.
No decision was made that night, for I knew a passionate response would probably turn out bloody and not be productive for any of us. Instead, we parted to contemplate the future.
He realized he had skidded disaster and warmly invited my wife and I to dinner at his house. I had still not made a decision on what I would do.
He had a nice house and an attractive wife and the dinner conversation was pleasant enough but I wondered why he was trying to be so friendly. He was a smooth operator talking ancient authors and classical music while refilling the wine glasses. Then the tone took a different turn.
It seemed he considered himself a swinger and without so much in asking hinted that he and I could do a wife swap. My mind was dizzy with the wine and the proposal that my wife did not seem to object to.
Our last meeting, as I recall, was my final decision. I told him I had him by the gonads. He was a public school principal responsible for the community’s children and was bonking the teachers. I could ruin him and his career.
In the end I let him go. No one can control emotions and even with all the licensing, vows, promises and certifications; the attraction to one another cannot be restrained by a word called “marriage”.
As for my wife, I learned an invaluable lesson. I had been naïve enough to expect your girlfriend to not look at another and find them more attractive or appealing. It was a good life lesson, but a rough one. I think, in my fuzzy memory, we went on to buy a house and live together for several more years, but the damage was done.
Our lives went different directions and we formally declared an end some eight years later.