Love ? Affairs
Sexual cheating on a spouse or a lover is euphemistically referred to as “having an affair.” I think it would be better to refer to it as “having a derailment,” both emotional and physical. The train has just come off the tracks, resulting in either a total wreck, in which the demolished cars are removed and taken to a train graveyard or, alternatively, whatever remaining pieces are deemed salvageable get reconstituted, re-railed and re-routed. Another good descriptor for having an affair is the commonly used term: ”cheating” because, in fact, it is the act of doing something that allows one person to hold a significant advantage over someone else. But because everyone has a different threshold for conscious self-reflection, whatever the exact advantage might be for the angst befalling the cheater, remains to be explained. After all, this is not the ordinary case of “I know something you don’t know” or the special advantage that comes to a card counting poker player. It’s more like the card cheater worrying that he’ll be busted for having an ace up his sleeve, which will result in either being shot by a competitor or rolled out the front door of a casino by a brute bouncer.
The “whys” of cheating are equally elusive and run the gamut of sexually addictive behavioral quirks, to the ‘grass is greener syndrome,’ to the ‘not getting any at home factor,’ or the rather bland ‘you do it because you can phenomenon.’ Men who enjoy positions of great power, fame or status in the society are particularly prone to the susceptibility of the free pussy that always seems to easily gravitate to the aura of that fame, or is merely a mercenary female attracted to their wealth like a moth attracted to a flame. It is also customarily the case that it is not only “if”, but rather It is necessarily going to be “when” the sordid relationship ends. This is because “discovery” is a principle that equally applies to one-night stands or single encounters with prostitutes.
The consequences after the fact of discovery are myriad and can result in a simple breakup, complete reconciliation, a bitter divorce, long or short-term stalking, depression, nasty confrontations, fistfights, a fall from grace, serious bodily harm and/or even murder. There are thousands of documented cases that went wrong enough to warrant airtime on television forensic shows, or the tantalizing sexual political scandals that periodically but predictably always surface from time to time.
My attempt to run with two girlfriends at the same time was as close to the first, as well as the last time, I ever had a derailment. I decided then that it if I needed someone else that badly, it logically followed that the original relationship must simply be lacking sufficiently enough to warrant ending it. Generally speaking, if I happened to be in a long-term relationship, I never cheated and specifically when I was married, never cheated either only because I was completely satisfied, or if not that, it required too much negative energy, craft, or deception to make it worthwhile. Unfortunately, many long term loveless marriages are too expensive to end, in which case, even though the players may no longer be mutually faithful, the mantra becomes “cheaper to keep her; or him;” as the relationship then graduates to the more sublime level of becoming more of a perniciously plain old fashioned living lie.
This is not to say that when I was single, I may have had a few short-term affairs with someone who was married. However, that was their emotional problem and not mine, except to risk the potentially disastrous encounter with a jealous husband—or God forbid, that the woman thinks she has probably fallen in love with you. See? It still gets too complicated even if you think you’re an innocent bystander who has stupidly crossed boundary of having sex. At this point all bets are off in the predictably unilateral emotional calamities that inevitably follow suit. One of the worst-case scenarios occurs when a married man traps a needy woman with low self-esteem into a relationship that lasts for years or even decades, as he perpetually promises every week that he will leave his wife. This is need-want-user-used psychopathology at its best.
I did have one bad experience when I went to bed with a female Resident who was in the process of getting a divorce. Technically, she was still married even though emotionally she was not. After two dates she began to discuss getting married to me; a ridiculous idea I equated as her going from the frying pan into the fire. Not even divorced and wanting to get married again? That sent a strong signal that there might be a few loose screws in her noggin—so I quickly backed off. That was a correct assessment, but too late for me, as I had already taken the lethal vaginal plunge. She categorically would not take “No” for an answer and developed a fixed delusional fantasy that she and I were going to be a couple regardless of my early precipitous good-bye.
The harassing aftermath lasted for two years beginning with a posted ‘letter a day’ complete with numerous personal photos. The themes ranged from maudlin sentimentality through outright bitterness, accusations that I was gay and she would rescue me from that fate, that I was a drunken drug addict who needed her to help my rehabilitation, then paranoid rationalizations as to why a Jew and Italian could still make it together, and ending with overt threats that if she couldn’t have me then no one else would. This was coupled with physical stalking, such as showing up at my house, my friend’s houses, my parent’s house, or worse—my workplace.
On one occasion when I lived in Nyack, New York, I was forced to hole up in the false bottom under an ersatz loft bed I made by placing the bed frame on a stack of Sears cabinets. It was only designed to conserve space in my apartment, but then turned out to be a convenient hiding place instead. Not going to the mattresses, so to speak; but under them. My roommate intercepted her, and tried to dissuade her, while I almost suffocated waiting for her to finally believe his story that I was not coming home that day. In retrospect for that siege I should have laid in some supplemental oxygen, a few cans of soup, and a portable Sterno stove. However, because this was in the late 1970s to early 1980s, the police in Manhattan, Nyack, and eventually in Suffolk County sniggered at my attempts to get an order of protection.
- OK. Let me get this straight. A woman is stalking you and you’re afraid. What? Afraid to get laid. That’s a good one. Everyone should be so lucky. Haw, haw, haw.
One of the supervising Attending Physicians in my Cardiology training program was only slightly more sympathetic when he simply said:
- So. Have you seen the movie “Play Misty for Me?”
- Yes. And thanks a lot for that pleasant thought.
I even went as far as to lodge a complaint about professional ethics with the Manhattan Medical Society, as she then worked in that borough, but this organization took my plea with an amused and unsympathetic grain of salt. They told me there was little they could do. Everyone thought I was hysterical or that I was blowing the entire thing out of proportion; but they had not read the nutty letters and were not the ones who had to constantly look over their shoulders. Then suddenly one day, almost as if it were by magic, the stalking abruptly stopped. I scoured obituaries on the off chance she had met an untimely but welcome death, but I learned later instead that she finally found someone else to marry. That was when I said a small prayer of thanks to the great psychiatric God of Emotional Transference, put away my bulletproof vest, and saved all the correspondence in a large mothballed box. You know— for evidence—or just in case she changed her mind on the wedding alter, too.
What I find most interesting about affairs is the “inevitable discovery” and how like so many other things in life can be accidental, the jig usually comes up by a completely blindsided twist of fate. Some of my married golf buddies must have read the Manual on Not Getting Caught and while I was still a bachelor, made sure that when we went away on bachelor weekends, the charges for the call girls went to my credit card. Otherwise, if you are not ready to explain the six-hundred-dollar charge for “Discreet Jewels” on your own card you had better come home with a nice bracelet you paid for with the cash that would presumably also have been borrowed from me.
The irony here was that I was getting plenty of sex at home, could have cared less about having a hooker come over, and although the wives expressed dismay about their hubbies going off with a “notorious bachelor,” it was their own sleazy husbands whose behavior was at risk.
- You’re not going anywhere with him. I heard once he was married six times.
- Not quite. It was the opposite way around. He was only married once for about six minutes.
Of course, if you do then happen to come home with a nice case of a transmissible venereal disease instead of that expensive bracelet, you had better be in tight with the treating physician who is willing to cover it up with a phony diagnosis, which will then only apply to a few limited bacterial, but not to the newer more permanent, unexplainable viral versions. If not so lucky then, you will be left hung out to dry, just as your penis should have been while hiding inside of the safe comfort of a nice thin little rubber raincoat, instead of romping around bare-back. Herpes is much more difficult to explain away and is no longer simply referred to as being “the kissing disease.” Then again, a nice raging case of gonorrhea would not go down too well in the annals of easily explainable genital discharges either.
- Honestly honey, I don’t have any idea where that came from. Maybe you got it sitting on that filthy dirty airport toilet seat.
- Oh yeah? How about more like the filthy dirty bitches’ seat that squatted down on yours.
Here are some of my favorite blindsided discovery cases and situations where the Manual on Not Getting Caught could not anticipate the glitches.
My father got caught in the plain, simple, straightforward, old-fashioned way; and just like Bill Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky, only because that special somebody spilled the beans. The woman he was going with had enough of it, called my mother at home to tell her what was going on and said that she just couldn’t take it anymore. My father moved out for a while, leaving my semi-hysterical, semi-regretful, half-crazed vindictive mother alone at home to brood. Although she abhorred drugs of all kinds, for this calamity she acquiesced to a pile of Valium I took out of a hospital medicine cart and hustled up to White Plains on my first available night off when I was still working a Resident in New York City.
- He’ll have to choose between her and me. And if he chooses her, I’ll break both of his balls…and his bank account, too.
I told her I did not understand why she wanted him back, and that I didn’t blame him for doing what he did because she always treated him like shit. I also suggested seeing a marriage counselor by telling her this was their mutual opportunity to start over with a new leaf—along with a new attitude. Of course, after he came home, not only did nothing change but my mother also never let him live it down. Counseling was entirely out of the question because only “weak” people did that sort of thing. God forbid anyone would want to get some real help or personal insight into the decades long festering sore that had ruined their relationship. Years later, my father told me he would have left if not for wanting to keep the family together.
I said: “What family?” because I could have cared less. I was twenty-six years old and already out on my own, my brother was independently out on his own too, and my sister had just turned eighteen—facts that only led me to believe that if he was telling the truth, the affair must have been going on for years.
Then there are those cases in which the situation occurs “in-flagrante;” and cannot even remotely be denied. I once had a patient, a very well-off local landlord, who owned several buildings on Main Street. He was as in his mid-forties. After being been cleared of having coronary disease on an Executive Physical style general work up and stress test, he decided to come back every year for another stress test anyway, “just to be sure.” He would also ask for an HIV test, something I thought peculiar because he was happily married with a young daughter. But one day his wife came home unexpectedly only to find him in bed with two other men, after which she promptly asked for a divorce. She told me if it had been a woman, she might have had a chance at successfully competing to get him back; but that she perceived this particular sexual proclivity as a battle she could never win.
- If it was only pussy, that would be one thing. But ass fucking and 69 position mutual dick sucking? How can I compete with that?
This situation was nearly as bad as the woman who worked at the hospital who told me she was leaving her husband of three years because his sexual preference was to masturbate while strangling the head of his penis with a rubber band so he could have a retrograde ejaculation into his own bladder. Self-love is hard to compete with too, unless the guy was just working on a uniquely effective form of birth control.
- I told him repeatedly to just let it go and cum inside me.
- So, did he keep his feelings to himself too?
- I don’t know. We never talked about that.
Nelson Rockefeller enjoyed the unique phenomenon of dying while sitting in a chair getting a blow job from a young secretary; being the classic example of literally getting caught with ones pants down. In this case, the only thing getting stiff by the time the detectives arrived was the half-dressed corpse. He probably forgot to read the then recent Japanese medical study that proved a clear direct increased risk of sudden death during sex, or Death in the Saddle Syndrome, but only occurring in men who had sex with their mistresses as opposed to having it with their wives.
- So, after all these years do you still find me to be sexually exciting, honey?
- Huh? Were you talking to the dog or to me?
The next scenario plays on the element of cavalier stupidity. I was on a vacation in Mexico when I met a young man in his mid-thirties, traveling alone, who after several beers regaled me with his sad tale. He told me he was severely despondent over his recent divorce because he had really loved and trusted his wife. Apparently, he worked for a telecommunications company, had a job that required him to travel almost every week for three or four days and had been married for only about two years when he happened to be rummaging in his basement for something only to come upon an entire wardrobe closet of men’s clothing that unfortunately he did not recognize as belonging to himself. When the dust settled it seems that his wife would simply move her boyfriend in for the several days her husband was on the road and as such had accumulated a nice supply of fresh shirts for the boyfriend to change into while he was there. Her excuse was that she was “lonely .”Yes, I guess and super horny, too.
Normally, lonely horny married women with husbands on the road will fill their emotional or physical voids with shopping trips or battery powered vibrators, but not necessarily with a full-blown surrogate attached to a torso. Or how about just being smart enough to have your paramour bring a suitcase; maybe even filled with the same brand of clothes your husband wears. then better yet, make it completely and secretively insulting by just letting the boyfriend wear all your husband’s clothes. After all, dry cleaners can do a same day turnaround.
I was once involved in something that was not really an affair and something I can only refer to as a “final fling.” One of my roommates in medical school wanted to visit an old girlfriend who lived in Springfield who was sharing an apartment with two other women. Michael came along for the ride and in the process of drinking and chatty small talk, one of the girls made it clear that she was engaged to be married in a few months. Michael lost interest, went after one of the other girls instead, which left me alone with the affianced.
Because it got too late to drive back to Boston, we were offered couches or sofa beds to sleep on, but as we settled in, the woman who was engaged invited me to sleep with her. It was simple. She said she was going to get married soon but wanted to have one good final free-love-fuck before the final commitment.
She also said:
- Don’t get any funny ideas about this either. Meaning I like you all right, and I want to get laid, but don’t think for one second I ever want to see you again. So, don’t even think about it.
- OK. OK. Don’t worry. I think I can handle it.
I got laid while the only thing my other two friends got out of the deal was a good hangover. You see; once again it’s hard to ever judge a book by the cover.
A similar situation with a different outcome occurred when I was a Resident and went to a large dinner party primarily attended by couples. Being single at the time, I did not really want to go, but as luck would have it found myself seated next to the only single woman at the affair. She was not unattractive and pleasant enough, but as the small talk proceeded over the next hour she let it be known that she was married. Losing interest, I spent the rest of the night talking to other friends while virtually ignoring her. As everyone was leaving, she walked over to me and said:
- You know. You aren’t a very smart person.
- What are you talking about?
- Well I really liked you.
- I liked you too.
- But then you ignored me.
- Not on purpose.
- Yes, it was. As soon as you found out I was married, you stopped talking to me. But what you don’t know is that my husband and I have an open marriage, so this was my night out. All you had to do was be a little bit more attentive and I would have had no-strings sex with you in the bathroom.
Another situation highlights the fact that no matter what you think, in this modern world there are eyes everywhere, meaning that anyone had better think twice before having sex in anything even vaguely resembling a public venue. Spy satellites can even spot you doing it at home with your own wife on your presumably private outside deck.
A married Cardiologist in a very high profile local tertiary hospital was dismissed from the staff when he was discovered having sex with a nurse, live on the video camera that was set up inside the small hospital chapel where relatives were supposed to be praying for their loved ones who were going under the knife on the open-heart table or dying in the ICU. The nurse who was being operated on by the dull round point of the swordsman’s thrusts and parries was in fact repeatedly praying “Oh God, oh God, oh my God,” meaning at least that component of what turned out to be a successful procedure was entirely appropriate and ecumenical.
The security guards must have had a field day.
- Hey, Joe. You stand outside the door. I’ll watch the monitor. Then I’ll give you the “all clear signal” to bust in right at the orgasm. Then we’ll go back and watch the tape together.
- Great. It’ll be a perfect end to an otherwise boring day.
This was almost as good as the married Anesthesia doctor at our hospital who was caught banging a locum tenens nurse in his call room when the security guard, upon hearing a series of loud screams and thinking someone was being brutally assaulted, burst upon the scene after employing his master key to get in. Christ, I thought. Why didn’t the idiot just stuff a sock in her mouth? Or maybe have her bite down on an endo-tracheal tube. Or even sedate her with a short acting anesthetic for that matter. The nurse, who was an itinerant substitute anyway, known in the trade as a “Travel Nurse” was fired on the spot and simply went on to her next gig in another State. But for the doctor it was only after a prolonged period of marital counseling that the couple finally reconciled. However, his wife told me one night at a party that she made him pay through the nose for his little dalliance; and that his little indiscretion had come at a high financial cost after the much higher cost of the repeated emotional brow beatings. New house. New car. Diamond watch and earrings. New metal spiked dog collar. Very short leash.
The next case plays on the element of blindsided bad luck. A woman and her husband went to see a Woody Allen movie in which some of the scenes were shot on the streets of Manhattan. Suddenly in the backdrop the woman caught a quick celluloid glimpse of a man who just happened to be her husband, escorting a beautiful blond, arm in arm, lip on lip, as he plopped her into his sidewalk parked Mercedes convertible. There was no way out of the documentary evidence as well as the fact that the man worked thirty miles away in the New York City suburbs and had never mentioned the fact of any personal trips into the heart of the big city. Arm in arm perambulation with French style osculation will also heavily discount or negate the alibi of the “business lunch” or the long lost “kissing cousin.”
Then there is the quintessential case of blindsided bad luck and bad timing being complicated by a combination of serendipitous good fortune while also paradoxically at the same time; good timing. On the fateful day of 9/11/2001, a woman watched TV in horror as the Twin Towers collapsed in a heap of dust. Her husband was a high-profile broker whose office was on one of the higher floors and was assumed to already be at work. She had been frantically trying to locate him by landline as well as by his cell phone on which she had left numerous messages to “please call me back as soon as you get this.” Finally, he called her back with a curt inquiry as to why she had left so many hysterical calls on his cell and what was oh so important that she just had to interrupt him while he was at his “oh so important” stock trading job.
- So, let me get this straight then. You’re at work in your office right now?
- Yeah. Where else do you think I’d be?
- Well, I don’t really believe that.
- Oh. Here we go again with the same old tiresome accusations. Where are you, who are you with…on and on and on. Always the veiled implications. So, when are you going to stop it?
- No. Not this time. This time I know I’m right.
- Look. How many times do I have to tell you…?
- Stop right there. I don’t know where you really are or what you might be doing, but if you are anywhere near a television set, you had better turn it on right now. You can’t possibly be in your office because your office doesn’t exist anymore. And we’ll discuss the rest of it when you get home.
He looked over at his girlfriend in the hotel bed next to him and asked her to hand over the TV remote.
The final scenario involves a perverse situation relayed to me by a drug sales representative one day on the golf course and highlights one of the reasons that HIPPA medical privacy laws occasionally turned out to be a good idea. She told me that she had known two couples that were extremely close to one another as mutual best friends. The two men played golf together every Saturday and the couples socialized very frequently with dinners in, dinners out, parties, etc.
One day, one of the men arrived at home before his wife and picked up the messages on their telephone answering machine. One of these calls happened to be her Gynecologist letting her know the great news that her pregnancy test had come back positive and so “congratulations. “The only problem was that the couple had not had sex with each other in about six months.
It turns out that the two golf buddies were not only sharing the same tee time but were also sharing the same putting hole. Then to make matters worse, the affair had been going on for about six years, meaning that even if lust had been the militating factor, love certainly was not.
I told my friend that if the two couples were truly all that close, they would have been better off doing full swaps or foursomes. I also said that if it had been me in cuckold the most insulting part of it and what would have hurt more than anything else, would be that not only was my best friend sharing the same golf hole, so to speak by banging my wife—but that I was also having to pay him those golf bets when he beat me.
Lately we just have the more blatant phenomenon of the politician or celebrity the likes of Rick Pitino or John Edwards who just never seemed to grasp the concept known as “pulling out in time” and are left with the proof of their indiscretions residing in the DNA of their “love children.” Or what about Tiger Woods, who was so dumb that he kept his private cell phone out in the open where his wife could find it, when instead, he could have had ten private phone accounts, with the call girl dialer locked in a safe. Although some women who trap these stupidly susceptible men only do it to get a leg up, some extra cash, or more likely some celebrity themselves where none existed before, I doubt that the porn star Jessie James would ever stoop that low. Well, maybe not.
Then there is the sad case of House Representative Gary Condit whose misfortune it was that his lover killed by a Mexican itinerant in a random act of violence. It’s only too bad that it took years to catch the man who really did it —while all along Gary was felt to be the most likely candidate for the dirty deed. Or what about Senator Craig, an otherwise intelligent man being stupid enough to come out as a closet gay in the public bathroom of a large metropolitan airport when he solicited sex from an undercover cop by playing footsie with him from the adjacent toilet stall.
I did have an affair with a married woman I met a work. I was recently divorced and the last thing I wanted was a serious relationship. It was her idea, not mine, and I decided to say “okay” instead of reporting her to the HR Department for sexual harassment. Sure. How many men would turn down an offer like that? She told me at the beginning it was because she was polyamorous, and no matter what, I should not fall in love because she would never leave her husband. I didn’t say, ‘Oh, shucks. how disappointing.” It lasted for several years and we never got caught.
When I finally got re-married I told my second wife that if she ever thought about cheating on me, I would appreciate it more if she would just bring the guy home so that at least I could then have the satisfaction, entertainment and vicarious pleasure of watching them. She told me “No” because that would take all the fun out of it.
At least she had a sense of humor.
When I said the same thing to my first wife, she slapped me.
A person cannot mount two horses
Or bend two bows
And no one can serve two masters;
For either he will hate the one and love the other
Or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.