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.

13 thoughts on “Unspoken

  1. Dear R.J.:

    About the blog in question, it wasn’t your remarks that I found unkind. In fact, I agreed with your observation that chickens aren’t the smartest animals around.

    And I know from your writing, both here and in Waiting for Spring, that you are one of the kindest people around.

    I’m sorry if my words made you feel uncomfortable. That wasn’t their point. I just wanted to expand on the inadequate words I had left on the blog in question.

    By the way, thank you for all the kind words you’ve written in behalf of our blog, and continued success with yours.

    I never miss it.


  2. Hey there, Sid! 🙂

    You certainly did not make me feel uncomfortable. I was raised on a farm, so eating meat–and knowing the whys and wherefores about all that entails–doesn’t bother me. But because of my background I so often come across as glib about that subject when I’m speaking with my many vegan buddies. It’s especially hard to know how your words come across when they’re written, since it’s easy to misread the tone. That’s why I felt it necessary to examine my own remarks.

  3. Hey Kells!

    You certainly get to see life in it’s crudest, rawest form in that job – and all you can really do is be there as an observer. That’s tough stuff. How sad that this couple has lost whatever they once had and are reduced to cheating on each other – sounds like that marriage is in injury time already. That has to be one of the saddest posts you have yet made.


  4. This is excellent! I don’t mean to be dim, but did this really happen, or did you conjure it? Either way, it is very well written.

  5. Damn, I meant to mention this in my original comment — that is, your entry today is great.

    You know, I see a lot of similarities between you and Tess Dyer. Both are people I’m glad to know.

  6. Hey Elle!
    It does get pretty rough sometimes. I think the best lesson I can learn from the crap I see is to be grateful for what I’ve got personally, and to never take it for granted.

    Mars…great to see you here! And another welcome to WCB, to. Yep, the story is true. All of the late night chronicles I post here really happened.

    Thanks for the kind words, Sid. Tess & I are alike in many ways. Fortunately, I’m a little smarter than she is. 🙂

  7. Kel, you should write another book… another shift that has me in stitches, hehe.

    Only way this could get more twisted is if they bump into each other…

    Miranda, welcome to WCB. If you thought this was strange, go back to the lady with no pants shift….

  8. Most likely the one that “finds out” about the other first will feign righteous indignation and cry a river about the indignity of that “cheaten spouse”.

    Do you have security cameras. Maybe the store needs a “Customer of the Day” photo….. ha ha

  9. Hi Kel. I’m not sure where or how to ask this, but I am intensely interested in finding out how you became a work-at-home proofreader. I would love that job but I suspect I am vastly underqualified, having nothing published and no practical experience in the field. Do you have any advice or maybe a path I could start on that would get me there eventually?

  10. Hi Matt! I’ve been filing lots of work incidents away for future fictionalization. For the most part, if it makes it on my blog, that’s where it’ll stay.

    Crystal Lynn, we do have security cameras and it makes for some very interesting entertainment for my boss during the day. Especailly No Pants Lady.

    Jen, you can totally name one of my chickens. I’ll keep you posted.

    Mars, the proofreading I do (did…they haven’t used me for awhile. I hope they call again soon!) is for a local free newspaper. They emailed ads and articles to me at home, I’d fix ’em up, then email ’em back. (You’d be surprised how many ways “Car for sale, $1000 or best offer” can be misspelled.) Seriously, if you have a paper like that in your town, I’d check it out.

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