Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Bullet In My Head--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Saturday, April 20

     I had lunch with Melanie and Marcia, two old friends who waitressed with me and helped me boost my boobs and cinch my waist at the Playboy Club. Melanie and I’d run into each other at the doctor’s office two weeks ago and I mentioned I was getting divorced.
     “You and your husband were going to Spain last time I saw you,” Melanie said. “You couldn’t go to Vegas with us. Everything seemed fine.”
     “I found out he was cheating on me the last five years.”
     Melanie looked horrified. “You, Marcia, and I need to get together. I’ll be in touch.”
     My Playboy friends and I had seen each other last at dinner last fall. Ruthie'd flown in from New York, pounded drinks, and when she and I had a smoke outside, she told me she’d had an affair with an east coast blue blood who’d dumped her the second she told him her husband knew. Ruthie’s husband, Pete, was staying, but their marriage felt ugly. Ruthie stubbed out her cigarette with her Jimmy Choo shoe and smoothed her Versace dress, clothing she borrowed from Marcia. We walked back into the restaurant, ordered dessert, and Ruthie leaned over and whispered that Marcia and her real estate mogul husband were having problems.
     I arrived for lunch and Melanie and Marcia were already there.
     “You’re getting divorced,” Marcia said. “What happened?”
     I filled her in.
     “Ashley Madison has popped up on Ivan’s computer,” Marcia said. “For ten years I’ve been looking for evidence that he’s cheating. That’s what I’ve been reduced to. Spying. I made Ivan give me his credit card statements. There are a lot to go through. I recently noticed months are missing. I know he’s cheating. I know it but I can’t prove it. He spends nine-thousand, ten-thousand dollars a month on God knows what. Cash is gone from our accounts. He comes up with excuses that don’t add up. I’ve confronted him and he denies it and tries to make me feel crazy. And he’s constantly after me for sex, just like JB was after you.”
     “Make him wear a condom,” I said. “Seriously.”
     “Oh come on,” Melanie said. “They wouldn’t be that stupid. They’d protect themselves.”
     “Yes they would be that stupid,” Marcia said. “They're just thinking about their dicks and where to stick them.”
     “Only reason I found out was because JB thought he gave me something. I’ve been tested for everything.”
     “I’ve been tested, too,” Marcia admitted. “I told Ivan and he got angry. Accused me of going to the doctor because I was screwing around on him.” She shook her head.
     “My friend,” she continued, “her husband claimed he developed a Madonna complex after they had children. He stopped having sex with her because he was screwing a lot of hookers and got STDs. He got help and things got better for awhile, but he went back to it, gave her STDs. He’s a developer, too. Very wealthy. My girlfriend drops twenty-thousand dollars shopping without batting an eye, so she’s staying with him.”
     “I’d rather have a bullet in my head,” I said.
     “I still love Ivan,” Marcia said. “And I don’t want to lose, lose to some young girl. I just want Ivan to be nice to me. How sad is that? I’m spying on him and I just want him to be nice to me. At our office Christmas party, it was apparent Ivan and his receptionist were having an affair. They were standing across the room from each other and Ivan kept shaking his head like, don’t do it, don’t do it. She was staring at him with her arms folded across her chest. I know she wanted to confront me.”
     “You deserve better,” I said.
     I drove home, fed the dogs, and met Paul for dinner. Paul and I were seeing Carl Palmer, formerly of Emerson Lake and Palmer, at a small theater. We ordered an appetizer and Paul started giving me knowing nods and looks like we were finally getting together, I just didn’t know it.
     “I watched an episode of ‘Louis,’” I told Paul. “Louis C.K. had a crush on a friend. She knew he wanted more and told him, ‘That stuff down there, it’s all shut down.’” I waved my hand over my crotch like she had. "That stuff down there, it's all shut down Paul."
     Paul winked. “For now it is baby.”
     Paul has been one of my best friends for thirty years. Thirty years ago I told him we were just going to be friends. I don’t want to have that conversation again. I don’t want to hurt him. I don’t want to see that hurt look on his face. I love Paul. Just not like that.
     “You know what I’m going to order, don’t you?” Paul asked. “Lamb. That’s what you order at a Greek restaurant. What else would you order?”
     I ordered the whole grilled sea bass and had the waiter fillet it for me at the table.
     “That fish is really fresh,” Paul said. “See how the bones are coming out of that? They wouldn’t be coming out that clean if it wasn’t fresh. That fish is really fresh.”
     “It’s fresh,” I said irritably.
     “And you’re all shut down down there,” Paul said. “Today, my cousin said, ‘You’re going to have fun after dinner and a show like that.’ I’ll have to tell him you’re all shut down down there.” Paul laughed loudly.
     We went to the show and it was fabulous. Afterward, Palmer sold and signed drumheads for fans. I wanted one for Tom and Paul quickly threw down cash for one. We got in line, a very long one, and I started thinking about my dogs and the hour-long drive I had.
     “I’m going to see if the guy selling merchandise will swap this head for the signed one on display,” I said.
     I walked up to the counter. The merchant swapped heads with me and I gave Paul the let’s-go motion.
     “You sure know how to pour on the charm when you want something,” Paul sneered nastily.
     I snorted,  kissed Paul’s cheek, and drove away.

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