Currently listening to:You can’t hurry love by The Supremes
I bought the cheapest wedding band I could find—$59.95 at Kmart, and worth every penny. I started wearing it to bars not so that men would leave me alone, but for the opposite reason, so that they would take me home with no strings attached.
There are plenty of men looking only for casual arrangements. The trouble is that if you are a woman and you claim you want the same thing, men think one of two things: either you’re lying, just trying to get your hooks in and next thing they know you’ll be talking about china patterns, or you’re a slut. Men, I’ve learned, are suspicious if you are too willing. They want sex without commitment, but they balk when it is actually offered. Marriage frees a girl from these things. When I meet a man, I am trapped in a dead-end unfulfilling marriage. I am looking for someone to make me feel desired for one night, or maybe a succession of Saturday nights. I cannot possibly be seeking all the stickiness of commitment; I’m already up to my eyeballs in that. Nor am I trashy. I’m simply lonely, unappreciated, unloved. Men are free to date me, even to pine for me, without the threat of any expectations. I am exactly what they’re looking for.
For me, the arrangement has been no less perfect. Everything is on my terms. Men cannot call me because my husband could be around, so I have to call them. We cannot ever go to my place. If I want to break it off, I need only say that I am weighed down by guilt, that I want to make an honest go of working this whole marriage thing out. Men accept boundaries and ground rules from me that they would never tolerate from a single woman. And late at night, I go home to my own apartment, my own life. I stretch out in a bed that is only mine.
It sounds hopelessly naïve, but I never saw any of the ways this could become complicated. I counted on myself to not fall in love. I’ve been sleeping with David on and off for nearly a year now, though, and I am trying to decide whether I am willing to leave my imaginary husband for him. David has not ever met my parents or my sister or my friends. He has never seen my apartment. And yet there are strings attached, anyway. Sticky filaments wrapped around us like a web. I’m pretty sure that I love him. I’m just not sure if that’s enough.
“Martin doesn’t deserve you,” David tells me. Though he has never met Martin, because he does not exist, David feels qualified to make this judgment. What I’m thinking about is what I deserve, and what I don’t. Once, this kind of having my cake and eating it too seemed harmless. All the rush and excitement of the affair, without the betrayed husband sulking at home. I look at David now and realize he’s the one I’m betraying. The one I owe more than this.
Sometimes, I pretend Martin is out of town for the weekend on business. David and I stay up late and sleep in, and he brings me coffee in bed in the morning. “It could be like this everyday,” he says. “Don’t you want this everyday?” I’m not certain of the answer, only certain of how it would crush him if he knew the truth: that I am the only thing in the way. David slides back under the covers next to me, drapes an arm over my waist. I imagine sitting down with all of my friends and family and calmly explaining the situation: so when he talks about my first husband, just smile and nod, okay guys? I allow myself to pretend it could be that simple. David breathes into my neck, and I remember how I thought I was un-complicating my life, once. How it never occurred to me all the ways a lie can grow, become impossible to undo.
David traces a fingertip down my arm, stopping on the band around my finger. “When are you going to leave him?” he whispers.
“I don’t know,” I say. Real tears catch in my throat. “I don’t know what to do.” That much, at least, is absolutely true. I clench my hand into a tight fist around the cheap, thin ring and think how easily it would bend, how easily it would break. How I feel every bit as trapped as I have ever pretended to be.
Spent most of the day sick as a dog, hidden under the furry throw in my dorm room, and only tumbled out of bed at about 545pm when i had to go to school to conduct hss idol auditions. What a depressing scene, all these contestants serenading a sniffing sad girl sucking on lozenges. How very morbid. Im hungry, andrea told me, and i replied I want to reach down and tear my throat out.
I really am slightly worried, re Voice presentation tomorrow. Have been practicing my sad puppy dog expression in the mirror. Will let you know again if the professor lets me postpone- how does one sing with a throat like mine, really.