I get weird, morbid pleasure sometimes out of talking to my husband about cheating. Affairs. Scandals. I can’t help but bring it up while casually scanning his eyes for a glimmer of guilt, looking for a certain reddening around the collar, trying to catch the whiff of women’s perfume when he leans in to hug me and promises he’d never, ever forsake me for anyone else.
Despite continued vigilance, I’ve yet to find any clues that my husband is fooling around. The deepest recesses of his closet hold only lint balls. The messages on his voice mail at work are dull and mundane. The credit card statement contains no mysterious charges, besides the revelation that Hubs eats far more barbeque for lunch than he admits to. Okay, okay, I can be a snoop- but only after I’ve watched an episode of Cheaters and gotten tears in my eyes as Two-Toned Tammy screams “We got a baby together! We got a baby together! How could you do this to me!” at her philandering boyfriend-of-six-years after catching him in the Popeye’s parking lot with her roommate/sister/best friend.
I’m not alone in my snooping, either. Hubs likes to show up in the middle of the day sometimes, unannounced, just to “see what I’m up to.” When I went out of town with the kids a few months ago, I returned home to discover that he’d gone through my entire bathroom cabinet, searching for God-knows-what. He’s also admitted to Googling my ex-boyfriends. I find this kind of thing flattering. I’ve told Hubs I don’t ever want a boyfriend. But I’ve admitted that I would really like an admirer.
My admirer would be quite handsome, enough to give my husband pause, but he’d also be an advocate of courtly love and would have a “look-but-don’t-touch-EVER-not-even-when-you’re-both-a-little-drunk-and-there’s-no-one-around” kind of sensibility.
Instead, my admirer would content himself with sending me flowers (Casablanca lilies) and boxes of candy (Godiva) and books of poems (Neruda), with notes that say things like, “When I saw you in carpool this morning with the sun in your hair, I realized I had never seen anyone or anything more beautiful.” Or “You fold a fitted sheet with a grace and perfection that others can only dream of. Thank you for being you.” Or even “You are the hottest soccer mom this side of the Mississippi. Ah-OOO-gah!” I’m not particular. It’s the thought that counts.
My husband might not like all the attention my admirer would give me, but he’d have to tolerate it because he has plenty of admirers of his own. The nature of his job is such that people are constantly coming up to him and telling him how great he is. He loves to tell me these stories, to which I counter with something like, “Oh the same thing happened to me today. I was at the supermarket and this total stranger walked up and said, ‘I just love your ability to save at least 25% on your grocery bill every time you shop!'” Hubs generally snorts derisively while I quietly seethe. But my admirer would put a stop to this kind of behavior.
“Hubs,” he’d say, taking my husband’s hand and shaking it heartily, “I hope you know you’re a very lucky man.” Hubs would look slightly uneasy as he noted the firm handshake and kind eyes of my admirer. That night, Hubs would turn up with a large bouquet of his own and an offer of dinner and dancing. Or dinner and drinking, which is more our style.
“Admirer,” I’d say as he called me on the phone for the fifth time in a week, just to hear the charming lilt of my voice, “I really can’t accept your gifts anymore. You’ve been simply wonderful, but between you and me, I think Hubs is getting a little jealous.”
“Lucinda,” he’d whisper with just the right blend of regret and compassion, “I will be content to admire you from afar, if that’s what it takes to make your life easier. But I have devoted my life to you- and the evidence of that will be impossible for either of you to ignore.” Regretfully, we’d both hang up the phone.
After weeks of not hearing from my Admirer, my husband would silently bring me a copy of the Living section of the newspaper. “Local Artist Receives International Recognition for “Lucinda” Series”, the headline would read. Pictured beside his oil painting called “Lucinda with the Sun in Her Hair” would be my Admirer, his searing, questioning eyes burning through the newsprint.
A short time later, I’d be named Parent Magazine’s Mother of the Year based on an anonymous submission. Hubs would try to pretend he mailed in the entry, but the editor’s admission that my “ability to artfully manage the lives of my husband and three children while radiating an amazing inner calm and stunning the locals with my otherworldly beauty” set me apart from the other entrants would clue me in on who was really responsible for my resulting photo session and free trip to New York.
By the end of that year, “Lucinda (Love of My Life)” would top the Adult Contemporary music chart.
I’d join the super exclusive ranks of world famous muses. Occasionally, Vogue or Vanity Fair would do short pieces on me, despite my wish to remain anonymous. The only photos they’d be able to secure would be of me rushing between my minivan and my front door, using one arm to balance Baby and a bag of soccer balls and holding up the other in front of my oversized-sunglasses-and Pucci scarf-covered face. Yet readers would note the winsomeness in my frown, the hurried spring in my step. Soon, I’d have Admirers showing up at my door from all parts of the globe.
So you see, what’s an affair really besides some hurried bonking and a lot of postcoital guilt? An admirer is really the way to go. If you know of any good candidates, I’d be happy to review their qualifications…