Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Better Version Of Myself--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Wednesday, February 13

     I met with Yosef.
     “Tell me about yourself,” he said.
     “I wrote a book called, ‘Diary of an Alcoholic Housewife,’” I said. “I haven’t had a drink in ten years and work a twelve-step program, so I’m in the habit of examining my motives and being honest with myself. I’m also getting divorced. My soon-to-be ex-husband was on Ashley Madison the last five years we were married.”
     “What is this Ashley Madison?”
     I explained and watched shock register on Yosef’s face.
     “I have never heard of such a thing!” he exclaimed. “This thing exists?”
     “This thing exists. I’m having a hard time dealing with it. I know if I handle this challenge well I’ll transform into a better version of myself, bring on light, not darkness. But I’m all over the place. I’m grateful and excited for my new life one minute—I sometimes pray for JB. The next I’m visualizing violent ways to snuff him out.”
     “I’m divorced,” Yosef said. He looked at me with compassion. “I’m married for the second time, but I know what it is to get divorced." After a moment he said," Email me the bullet points of your life. I suggest you sign up for Kabbalah U online so I can give you assignments.”
     We scheduled an appointment to speak by phone in three weeks and I left the office. I ran into Mike, another Kabbalah student.
     “I was assigned to Yosef, too,” Mike said. “How did it go?”
     “I’m going to like working with him, I think. He seems like a really good guy.” I told Mike about Yosef’s reaction to Ashley Madison. I watched Mike’s face fall.
     “Really?” he said. “There are websites like that?”
      Tears filled my eyes. “You don’t know about that site either? You have no idea how good it feels to see men shocked and saddened by this, too.”
     “What he’s done, it’s really bad karma. You know that, right? There’s nothing worse than committing adultery with another married person. The chain reaction. All the people’s lives you ruin. Bad things are in store for that guy.”
     Mark nodded solemnly. He looked sad for me. We hugged and parted ways.
     I sat in the car, pulled myself together, and drove to an indoor driving range to hit golf balls. A pro teaching lessons a few tees away walked over.
     “Let me tell you something,” he said. “By the way, I only give free tips to pretty girls. You’re not turning your hips. You’re never going to get any distance.” He put his hands on my hips, had me take a backswing, and twisted my hips back. “Now swing,” he said, turning my hips forward as I swung.
     “My twenty-year-old son has been giving me lessons,” I said. “He told me to keep my hips square to the ground. That’s what I’ve been doing.”
     “Some guys do that, but don’t,” he said.
     “What you showed me feels a lot better,” I said. “It frees up my arms.”
     “Yeah. You’re athletic. You should pick this up just fine. What do you do?”
     “I’m a writer and I teach yoga.”
     “Call me,” he said, handing me a card. “I’ve been working with someone who teaches yoga and I might need someone else.”
     I stuffed his card into my pocket and left. Golf Guy was cute. Maybe I could trade him golf lessons for yoga. I drove home and my mother arrived fifteen minutes later. Tom’s talent show was starting soon.
     “I’m not looking forward to seeing JB,” my mother said grimly.
     “Me either,” I said. “He’ll probably walk over and say hello to you.”
     “I’m going to stick close to you,” my mother said. “I feel like crawling in your pocket.”
     I hugged her.
     We left for the talent show and sat front row center. As the auditorium filled, Terry came out from backstage and told us how our boys were doing. I noticed JB lurking by a side door watching us.
     The curtain went up. The level of talent was impressive. Gamma Ray went on and began playing “Lonely Boy” by The Black Keys. They killed it and the audience went nuts.
     When the show ended, I began chatting with other parents and spied JB slithering my way. As he neared, I narrowed my eyes at him and heard him grunt as he skittered past me. He stopped next to my mother, who was standing twelve feet away. They exchanged words and JB put his hand on my mother’s arm before walking away.
     My mother took Tom and me out for dinner. As we ate minestrone before our entree, Tom ran his hand up and down his shiny tie.
     “Dad spent fifty dollars on our ties,” he said.
     I stared at Tom’s orangish necktie and rolled my eyes. “That thing might be worth a dollar. You have an orange tie from your Halloween battle of the bands. Why didn’t you guys wear those?”
     “This one’s not orange,” Tom said. “It’s red for Valentines Day.”
     “Your napkin is red.” I held up my napkin. “See? I can’t believe Dad spent fifty dollars on three cheap ties. Fifty dollars?”
     “Yeah,” Tom said. “I think they were seven or eight dollars apiece, plus tax. Shipping was more than twenty-four dollars for express.”
     “He’s a retard,” I said.
     My mother, who was sitting across from me and next to Tom, stared at me sternly and shook her head.
     “It’s not nice to say that word,” Tom scolded.
     “Okay then, he’s an idiot.”
     Tom shot me an angry look. My mother shook her head more rapidly. “Don’t,” she mouthed.

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