Why we cheat – Lisa Taddeo

It’s this past summer at a country club in New Jersey where the pool twinkles like 1985. I am reading aloud to a friend from a David Foster Wallace essay in which he talks about how a man who puts his hand at a woman’s abdomen while his mouth is between her legs is selfish. Because he wants to know if she comes. He’s in it for his ego. Then we talk about cheaters, because I’m telling my friend about a man who was great at that, while he was married. And we talk about the fact that I’ve been with married men, which I feel taught me to be careful not to get hurt, to know that one day it could happen to me. And she feels it is because I’m worried about losing people, like I lost my parents, so I don’t ever put myself in a position to lose. She says I’m just a catalyst for more loss.

We stare across the pool at the families. Dark-haired fathers and blond wives and rows of blond-fur children in Vilebrequin swimsuits.

You shouldn’t ever see him again, she says. You’re ruining your marriage karma. I say, I’m not sure I believe in it. It’s weird you’re this fucked-up about marriage, she says. You grew up in a perfect home.

I argue in the general but also in the specific. The fucking moment. The married guy I’m talking about put a cashmere jacket across my shoulders in a downtown bar when the door was open in early spring. I’m happily married, he said in conversation. He had an odd bit of an accent, salt-lick after it’s been run through by ten thousand yellow cabs.

Four days later I e-mailed and said I wanted to interview him for a story. I trembled and smiled as I sent it. Six days later we met in a bar far from where he worked and where I lived, but cool and appropriate, and I walked in thinking I was crazy for what I had been thinking, that he was just another married guy, just another finance guy, just another moment in time and scent in a room.

I saw him and I had three beers and I had to run into the bathroom and scream, shriek for fuck’s sake. I looked at my face in the mirror and I thought, I have never felt this before. I may never feel this again. Something chemical and explosive. I’ll never forget the smell of beer on my breath, that particular evening’s smell of beer.

Another bar a few hours later, beer into gin and tonics, side by side on stools, my thigh against his. He says if he weren’t married, this would be the best first date he had ever had. He is eight years older. He has a six-month-old baby.

I have to go, he says. I have to go.

He hails me a cab and opens the door for me and I am about to get in, about to be innocent only because he is leading the way, and he puts his hand on my shoulder.

May I kiss you on the mouth? He says it like an apology.

When we saw each other again, he said he didn’t want to walk away, that he knew he should but he couldn’t.

This time we were in the bar where we’d met, where he knew everyone and he likened me to a jar of cherries beside his glass of Scotch and he kissed me there at the bar and it was the kind that doesn’t stop until a full stop. We left together and outside in the street he lifted me into his arms with my legs around his waist and he threw me up against a brick wall. On the way to my apartment a taxi almost hit us and we laughed. He carried me inside and the bottles in my bar stand shook. He threw me on my bed and it was the ideal mix of laughing and panicked desire and he took half my clothes off and his phone rang. We were doing midnight things but across the rest of the city it was 8:00 P.M. and with one hand on my waist, he picked up the phone and said, Yeah honey, don’t worry, having a drink with Brian, I’ll bring home a pizza.

More than the illicitness of the sexuality, there’s a sexuality to the selfishness. To doing precisely what you want to do. Being crudely, smilingly, on the side of the winners. I’m arguing for Wild Moments, because you never know what your last one will be.”

Read more: http://www.esquire.com/features/why-we-cheat-0412#ixzz20Qmpr4fH


Falling in Love

That’s better. That’s something I know about. We can talk about that. Falling  in  love,  I  said.  Falling  into  it,  we  all  did  then,  one  way  or another.

How could he have made such light of it? Sneered even. As if it  was  trivial  for  us,  a  frill,  a  whim.  It  was,  on  the  contrary,  heavy going.  It  was  the  central  thing;  it  was  the  way  you  understood yourself;

if it  never happened  to you,  not  ever, you would  be  like a mutant, a creature from outer space. Everyone knew that.

Falling in love, we said; I  fell  for him. We were falling  women.  We believed in it, this

downward motion: so lovely, like flying, and yet at the same time so dire, so extreme, so unlikely. God is love, they once said,  but  we  reversed  that,  and  love,  like  heaven, was  always  just around  the  corner.  The  more  difficult  it  was  to  love  the  particular man

beside us, the more we believed in Love, abstract and total. We were waiting, always, for the incarnation. That word, made flesh.

And sometimes it happened, for a time. That kind of love comes and goes and is hard to remember afterwards, like pain. You would look at the man one day and you would think, / loved you, and the tense would  be  past,  and  you  would  be  filled  with  a  sense  of  wonder, because  it was such  an  amazing  and  precarious and  dumb  thing  to have  done;  and  you  would  know  too  why  your  friends  had  been evasive about it, at the time.

There is a good deal of comfort, now, in remembering this.

Or  sometimes,  even  when  you  were  still  loving,  still  falling,  you’d wake up in the middle of the night, when the moonlight was coming through  the  window  onto  his  sleeping  face,  making the  shadows  in the sockets of his eyes darker and more cavernous than in daytime, and you’d think, Who knows what they do, on their own or with other men? Who knows what they say or where they are likely to go? Who can tell what they really are? Under their daily-ness.

Likely you would think at those times: What if he doesn’t love me?

– Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

Fable of the Mermaid and the Drunks – Neruda

All those men were there inside,
when she came in totally naked.
They had been drinking: they began to spit.
Newly come from the river, she knew nothing.
She was a mermaid who had lost her way.
The insults flowed down her gleaming flesh.
Obscenities drowned her golden breasts.
Not knowing tears, she did not weep tears.
Not knowing clothes, she did not have clothes.
They blackened her with burnt corks and cigarette stubs,
and rolled around laughing on the tavern floor.
She did not speak because she had no speech.
Her eyes were the colour of distant love,
her twin arms were made of white topaz.
Her lips moved, silent, in a coral light,
and suddenly she went out by that door.
Entering the river she was cleaned,
shining like a white stone in the rain,
and without looking back she swam again
swam towards emptiness, swam towards death.

What I want.

Look, I don’t want heaven, or any of the other ephemerals, the power or the glory, I just want this, this moment, this sunlight, the car in the garage, that music system in my room. These gross material things, I could make these last for ever. If I had any grand desires, they are only grist for lazy fantasy – Vienna and Hongkong and kink in Bangkok. This narrow, placid world, here and now is enough, where success means watching the rajnigandhas you planted bloom. I am not ambitious for ecstasy, you will ask me to think of the future, but the decade to come pales before this second, the span of my life is less important than its quality. I want to sit here in the mild sun and try and not think, try and escape the iniquity of the restlessness of my mind. Do you understand. Doesn’t anyone understand the absence of ambition, or the simplicity of it.

– English, August