Saturday, April 29, 2017

On The Down-Low--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Tuesday, New Year’s Day

     I woke up at five a.m. shaking, sweating, and feeling like I’d slammed five shots of espresso. JB was going to drain our retirement funds, rob our kids’ college funds, saddle me with his debt. His story, which got worse each time he tweaked it, would get worse again. He admitted he carried secret debt our entire marriage. Did he have sex with other women the whole time, too?

     “Have you been sleeping with other women throughout our marriage?” I emailed. “Were many of your ‘business trips’ not business trips? Were many of your hotel and airfare expenses not work related?”

     “Good morning,” JB immediately responded. “No, started cheating when I said. Basically when the Internet made it easy. I never did a ‘business trip’ that was really a getaway with another woman. Did spend on local hotels here and there but never airfare or out of town. I am happy to meet for coffee or dinner if you want to talk about this more.”

     His cheerful, chipper minimizing and picturing us bantering about it over dinner enraged me. I threw on my bikini, pulled my pajama bottoms on, swiftly left the room, and rode the elevator to the penthouse gym. I pushed my ear buds into my ears, cranked T-Rex, and sprinted barefoot on the treadmill. The sun was rising over Lake Michigan. It was glorious. I ran faster and faster. I ran like crazy but couldn’t wear myself out. I jumped in the swimming pool and swam laps. Finally, I hit the sauna. A beautiful African American woman walked in. She said she was from St. Louis and was staying at the hotel with a platonic male friend, just like me.
     “I think I’ll stay another night with him,” she said. “He invited me to and I think I’ll take him up on it. Relax and get away a little longer. My nephew just killed himself.”
     “I’m so sorry. Are you okay?”
     “I’m okay. I work in hospice.”
     We sat in silence a while. “I’m getting divorced,” I finally said. “Been married twenty-one years. Found out my husband was cheating the last five.”
     “I got divorced, too,” she said. “My husband was on the down low. You know what that is?”
     “Men saying they’re straight but getting gay sex on the side.”
     “Yeah. He still won’t admit he’s gay. I saw him on the news. They were doing a story on an all-male nude yoga class. He was in it.”
     “Do you have children together?”
     “Two daughters. They’re grown now. They don’t have much to do with him. He didn’t pursue much of a relationship and I didn’t help. Can’t say I never said bad things about him.”
     “I’ve made comments I shouldn’t have. But I don’t want to be false. I struggle with that.”
     We left the sauna. As we parted ways, we wished each other a wonderful new year.
     Paul was awake when I got back. We had brunch and said good-bye outside in the frigid cold. We gave each other enormous bear hugs.

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