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  • Writer's picturePenny Sterling

Some Lessons

Oh hey here's a question I need to start asking sooner: "Are you married?" You'd think I'd learn. But I apparently don't. It's happened so many times I've got a witty response loaded to end the thing: "I haven't been a woman long enough to be the OTHER woman." So quick. So cute. So Penny. But it's not what I WANT to say.

I want to say "What the hell is WRONG with you? Does your word mean nothing? How do you live with yourself? You tell me 'my wife's not interested in sex. She knows nothing about this.' Perhaps if you were interested in sex WITH HER and not with someone you met online, she might return the interest. Or maybe she IS interested in sex, but she knows YOU are not. Or at least, not with her. Do you really think she knows nothing about this? She knows. She may not know the exact nature of your indiscretion, but I'll bet all the money in my pocket against all the money in yours that she knows SOMETHING's got your interest, and it's not her. She may think it's drugs, or gambling, or any number of things other than me, but she knows. '"I'm staying in the marriage for my son/daughter. I'm a dutiful father."

I want to slap those words right out of your mouth. A dutiful father does not lie and cheat. A dutiful father does not act one way in one circumstance, and another way in another. A dutiful father lets their children know they do not have to break a vow in order to be happy. That's what your actions are telling your child, pal. You're telling them with your actions that when they grow up, they must conform to societal norms and keep their pleasures dirty and hidden. And thus, by association, you make me dirty as well. An object. A fetish. And they know what's going on, too. Just like their mom. They may hide it from you, but they know, and it's killing them. Or maybe they've internalized it, and assume this is normal, and are setting their lives up to be just like dear ol' dad. How does THAT feel? Or are you just using that line to cover your cowardice over this situation? You're making your child an unwitting accomplice in your duplicity. How is that being 'a dutiful father?' I can tell you it sucks. It sucks for me, and I barely know you . How will it be for them? Maybe I'm misinterpreting the situation. Maybe she is the one who pulled away from you first. Maybe you truly tried to have an intimate, loving relationship with her, and cannot. Maybe you tried talking to her, or suggested therapy, or maybe even TRIED it but it didn't take. I doubt it, but it's not impossible that you did these things. Is having an affair really your best option here? This is not a rhetorical question. I want an answer. Okay I'll answer for you. Hell no it is not. It is possibly the worst. It is the option of a coward--of someone who is more concerned about money, or appearances, or status, or maybe even keeping your god-damned vintage airplane than he is about truly being happy. And about truly being a dutiful father. Take it from someone who has lost just about every material thing she's ever had in her life: Stuff is overrated. It is the people in your life that will make your life worthwhile, not your twelve-cylinder beemer. And until you realize that, no amount of 'dirty' pleasure seeking will fill your soul.

That's what I want to say. Instead I breezily dismiss you and sit here, alone and crying over how I let myself be duped AGAIN. And I'm not even a cute crier.

As Melody Gardot sings: Some lessons are learned the hard way. And I get the feeling your lesson's gonna be WAAAAY harder than mine.

So I got THAT going for me.

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