One night I went to a bar with my friend Mike. There were bands playing, it was crowded, and we casually struck up a conversation with a woman named Heather. After an hour or so, Mike decided to leave. He was tired, he didn't like the music, and, increasingly, Heather and I were focused on each other. As he was leaving, he noticed that she and I had moved closer to each other, and he grinned at me just before he walked out the door.
Heather and I talked more, drank more, talked more. We were now sitting side-by-side in our booth in the dark lounge. We began kissing. After a few minutes, she broke away and laughed.
"Is there anything I should know before I get smitten?" she asked, and I realized that she somehow hadn't noticed the ring on my finger.
I held up my hand and showed it to her. "Maybe this?"
Her smile changed. "Ah. Like I said, there had to be a catch."
"Sorry. Do you want me to leave?"
She thought about it. "No, I'm having a good time hanging out."
We got more drinks. She stayed beside me in the booth, but we talked instead of making out. "I kind of want to take you home with me," she said. I stroked her hair and kissed her again and said, "Sounds good to me."
"Really? How long could you stay?"
"I'd like to stay with you all night, if you want me to."
A few minutes later, I was standing outside the bar, phone in hand, calling home. "Hey," my wife said sleepily.
"Hey, sorry to wake you. I just wanted to let you know I probably won't be home tonight."
"Oh… Is it anybody I know?"
"No, I just met her tonight."
She laughed. "I love you."
"I love you, too. See you tomorrow."
The next day, I got a call from Mike, "So, did you get with Heather last night?" he asked. "Yeah," I replied, "I spent the night with her. She's really cool."
"Do you need me to cover your ass with Anni? I can tell her you got drunk and crashed on my couch."
"She knows where I was," I replied. He was immediately alarmed.
"Shit, dude… How did she find out?"
"I told her. I wouldn't do it behind her back."
"You told her? For real?"
"Yeah, before Heather and I left the bar. She's okay with it."
"Barry, that's sick. I mean, gross."
"It's just wrong."
Anni was his friend too. For me to be unfaithful to my wife, his friend, was okay. For me to lie to her about it was also okay. Moreover, he was prepared to lie to her to help me get away with it. But telling her the truth? And her not having a problem with it? Sick. Gross. Wrong.
Mike was married too, and fucked around at least as much as I did. But he hid it from his wife, so that was okay, or "normal." This story would just be funny if Mike's attitude weren't typical.
When my marriage to Anni ended after seven years, most of our friends decided that our lack of monogamy had been the cause. Or, since few of them were monogamous, but all paid lip service to monogamy, I suppose it would be more accurate to say that they thought a lack of dishonesty had been the cause.
Our marriage had largely been happy. It ended for most of the usual reasons. I say "most," because infidelity was not among those reasons.
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