Savannah, the strong

30Oct08

Savannah and I crossed paths as we were both spying on our respective spouses. My wife was having an affair with her husband. She found me hiding in some shrubs with binoculars and formally introduced herself. “I’m the wife,” she said. We decided to meet up once a week to compare notes at a local bar.

We talked about our spouses together, all the things we both loved and hated, and why we couldn’t just drop it all because of this affair. There were so many things to consider—the mortgage, the car, our record collections, the dog. And besides: we loved them. Or so we kept telling ourselves.

We discussed the ethics of infidelity, ruminating that perhaps it wasn’t the act itself that was so bad, but rather the shattering of whatever illusions we had built up around the person. He or she was a character in our life’s narrative, and he or she wasn’t a cheater. This we told ourselves. The real pain came in realizing that we never truly knew them the way we thought we did.

“It’s like someone came in and rewrote my favorite character from my favorite book,” she said. “My Prince Charming became, I don’t know…that guy.”

Savannah and I never hooked up, though it almost made too much sense that we would. We were attracted to each other. Our spouses were cheating on us both. We were both hurt and vulnerable and we were the only people in the world who knew it. “But we can’t be like them,” she’d say. “We can’t be weak.”

Going to spy on my wife one day, I saw that Savannah’s husband had packed his things and was leaving her. I suspected my wife would do the same. I watched her pleading and crying with him, begging on her knees for him not to leave her. He walked briskly, annoyed, not speaking when he loaded his things into the station wagon. When she reached for his arm, he violently jerked it away. “Please,” she cried, “Don’t leave me alone. Please please please. . .”

As he backed out of the driveway, she started grabbing handfuls of dirt and stuffing them into her mouth—some sordid kind of last-ditch effort to get his attention. He paused for a moment, confused. Then he continued on, off to his better life with my wife. Watching his taillights disappear, Savannah and I just sat there in her yard, stupidly still, together yet alone.



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