“It takes a lot for me to say this, believe me,” he stared at me, looking for a response that wasn’t disgust, anger, or offense.
“I believe you,” I said. I couldn’t help but smile, either out of flattery or inebriation. How else is a girl supposed to react when a married man tells you he wants to go away with you for a couple of days?
We stared at each other for several moments, while I thought of something to say. He had both of his hands in front of his mouth, as though in prayer – his wedding ring glinting in the dim light of the bar. We were at a Mexican restaurant down the street from our office, our favorite place to go have a drink. I will always credit their cilantro margaritas in playing an integral role in our sordid affair.
“I’m somewhat surprised and yet not at the same time,” I finally mustered.
“How is that?”
“You strike me as the kind of guy that flirts with the idea of cheating, but doesn’t actually go through with it,” I lied.
“Well, normally, that would be absolutely true,” he lied right back.
We were in an epic battle of wits – one he didn’t know he was a part of. The waiter returned with another round of margaritas, briefly interrupting our staring contest. Behind him at the bar, were paintings of famous and accomplished Mexicans. I always thought it was funny that Frida and Santana had to witness this kind of depravity.
“I hope I didn’t misread anything,” he said somewhat nervously. “I don’t think I did, but I can’t be sure.”
“Not necessarily,” I told him. He was referring to our increasingly interesting conversation two nights prior at the same bar. Looking back, his idea was actually my suggestion. I had casually and somewhat innocuously stated that we should take a trip upstate one weekend. Did I mean us as a group or just us? I couldn’t be sure. Sometimes my own intentions and desires are a mystery, even to me. But after saying that, he had apparently mulled it over quite seriously.
He began to explain his feelings in more detail, which gave me time to further process my own feelings about the situation.
“There is just something about you that I can’t quite describe, something that draws me to you. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you for days. It’s a feeling I can’t quite shake, which makes it impossible to ignore. And you only get that feeling so many times in your life. I would feel like a fraud if I didn’t say anything.”
How ironic that of all the heinous things he had done to his wife, this is what would make him feel like a fraud.
“I’m glad you told me – that it’s off your chest,” I said. “But, Stan, you’re married.”
“I know!” he exclaimed. “And listen, I know that telling you this is worse than something purely physical. Sitting here across from you, having this conversation is worse. Don’t think that doesn’t weigh on me.”
I agreed with him. Sex can be meaningless – a passionate tryst and nothing more. Not being able to get someone else out of your mind is a much deeper betrayal.
“My immediate thought is that I know your wife… I like your wife. And I don’t want to come between you guys,” I said. He nodded in understanding. Though in reality, I had only met his wife twice. She was attractive for her age and perfectly agreeable, but I probably didn’t know enough about her to decide anything in particular about her or her personality.
“My more selfish thought is that this is a losing proposition for me,” I added.
“Why is that?” he cocked his head slightly when he asked questions like that.
“Because let’s say I agree to this, and we drive up somewhere for a couple of days, have a fantastic time… and then what? When we get back here, you get to go back to your wife, and I have to go home alone.”
“I get that, and you’re right. That is a legitimate concern. And I would understand if that’s something you’re not comfortable with.”
There was a pause while we sipped on our drinks, glancing around the place as though the words we were looking for were hiding at some other table.
“Can I ask you a question? Has this happened to you before?” I knew it was a personal question, but I didn’t particularly care. There’s a certain level of familiarity that develops when a topic like this has been breached.
“Once. And I did the same thing. I stayed true to myself, and we talked about it and nothing happened.”
I knew he was lying again, something that made me feel giddy.
“You know, talking to you about this just makes me want to throw this margarita right in your face,” I said to him bluntly.
He chuckled, “I would understand.”
And yet, I still didn’t totally dismiss his proposal. In fact, if there was any way this womanizing cheater was going to successfully sleep with me, it would be by suggesting a trip, and he knew that. Fueled by his deceit, I decided to up the ante.
“Where could we go? Montreal? New York?”
“I actually hadn’t considered anything out of state, but we can discuss that if you want,” he mused.
“Yeah, come on,” I spurred him on. “If I do this – emphasis on if – I don’t want it to be some cheap hookup in a motel or in the back of your car. I want it to be epic. If it’s not… Copenhagen, then it’s not even worth it. I want to change your entire perception of infidelity.”
He threw his head back and laughed emphatically, because that was the kind of attitude that I’m sure drew him to me in the first place.
“That would take a lot of planning,” he said putting his hands up in the air, “but I would love to.”
“Speaking of planning,” I chimed in, “how do you expect to explain to your wife where you’re going?”
“Well… since you’ve been placed on this project that requires us to work together, and since it’s an area no one in the company has a lot of experience in, I figured we could say there’s a conference somewhere.”
I was almost impressed by his forward-thinking and the calm way in which he explained it. This might have been the point in the conversation that sent up a huge red flag about the kind of person he was – someone this methodical had done this before. But I didn’t need any red flags; I already knew the kind of person he was. In fact, I knew he had conveniently taken advantage of a work conference to carry on another affair. Quite recently, actually.
For a brief moment, I considered the events that led up to this, and ironically, they had everything to do with the other participant in said affair.