Last week I caught a guy I know screwing around on his wife. I didn’t actually catch him. I mean, it’s not like I walked in on anything…thank God. I just happened to be working while he walked into the store at 11:20pm, hand-in-hand, with a woman who isn’t his wife.
He looked at the condom display, picked out his package of choice and tossed it onto the counter. Then he saw me. Standing in front of the cash register. With his package of rubbers in my hand.
“Uh…oh. Hi Kel. Uh, this is…I’m…we’re–shit.”
Yep. Shit. Deep shit. That’s exactly what he figured he was in.
The Other Woman–whom I didn’t recognize–looked at him, then at me, then walked out of the store without a word. The guy didn’t speak. Neither did I. I didn’t know what to say. Finally I scanned the rubbers into the register and managed, “That’ll be four-seventy-nine.”
“You won’t tell [Wife], will you?”
“What do you think, I’m gonna track her down and give her a ‘guess what, your husband’s screwing around on you’?”
The truth is, I don’t know the couple super well. We exchange “hellos” at the market and pleasant chit-chat at school functions, but that’s about it. And at least he was practicing safe cheating sex.
“No, I guess not. But…you don’t understand.”
Then he gave me the reasons–pardon me, I mean the lame excuses–as to why he was screwing around on his wife: Been married for 18 years and that’s a long time…under a lot of stress because of bills-kids-etc, blah blah blah. He ended it with: “Besides, she’s working second shift now. She doesn’t get out of work until midnight, and she doesn’t get home most nights until 1am. Then she’s tired and…well, we don’t get to see each other too often. That’s rough.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I know it is.”
And I do know, of course. Because while I was awake and selling this guy Twisted Pleasure Trojans, my husband was home alone in our bed. That’s how it is three nights a week. On the fourth night I’m usually completely exhausted from spending three nights in a row awake, followed by three days of trying to catch brief naps in between parenting my kids. It sucks big time, and we frequently ask ourselves, “Why are we doing this?” only to answer, “Oh yeah…so we can eat and pay for oil next winter.” So yeah, Cheater Man, I know all about it.
I didn’t say that, though. I just took his money and gave him his change.
“So, you won’t tell her?”
He looked at me a little more closely. “What if she asks you?”
I rolled my eyes. “Do you actually think she’s going to track me down and ask me if her husband is screwing around on her?” Like I said, I don’t really know these people that well.
“What if she does, though.”
“I’m not gonna lie.”
He was silent for a few moments, just looking at me. And I waited for him to ask me another question. I waited for quite awhile. But he didn’t ask it. He just walked out of the store with his rubbers.
So I didn’t tell him that his wife’s shift doesn’t really end at midnight. It ends at eleven. And I didn’t tell him that she had walked into the store a few weeks earlier, hand-in-hand, with a man who isn’t her husband. I didn’t tell him that The Other Man had also bought a package of rubbers. And I didn’t tell him that I’d had the almost identical conversation with his wife.
Chapter 13 is up at Readers and Writers Blog today. Also posted: Chapter 25: Kentfield of Gerard Jones’ Ginny Good and Chapter 4 of J. Cafesin’s Disconnected; both of which are seriously excellent reads. Also, be sure to check out Sid Leavitt’s thoughts about animal cruelty, along with an excerpt from his book “Adrift in America”. I myself made a few thoughtless, callous remarks on the blog in question which I now regret…especially since we’re in the process of clearing a spot for a new chicken coop that’ll be filled–humanely–with a flock of laying hens next spring. I’ll no doubt blog–lovingly–about their many idiotic exploits beginning next summer.