My recent but ended affair had made me an "Affairs Circle" star among local wanton wives. They sought trophy rings from men after they saw mine from former lovers.. They also sought my advice. My consul was put family first, avoid young alpha males, pursue Omegas but best pursue your husband, words which fell on deaf ears.
I stayed friends with Erica, the wild Swedish blond who enticed my return to wantoness but ended contact with the others after becoming a member of their infidelity group due to fear their gossip would leak out to those not in the circle. Erica was different. She was a neighbor, our boys played together and I liked her. We stayed close but I avoided futher indiscrections despite her urging.
She continued to narrate her escapades even if I was out of action. She dated a Japanese produce man we nicknamed Tojo. He was short, married, a Zeta and enthralled by his Nordic goddess. He delivered produce to restaurants which demanded the best and she had fruits and vegetables unattainable in the grocery with me also placing orders.
He bought her a trophy ring but she continued dating young alpha males. I avoided visiting when they came to her house.
Within a year of ending my last affair the "Affairs Circle" imploded. By 1983 AIDS reared its ugly head.
Over half the Affairs Circle members divorced. Most of those who divorced did so due to a husband's discovery of the wife's infidelity. A few wives, however, left to marry their lover. No wife who divorced moved up in mate or economically. For most it was a steep step down.
One married her young alpha stud then tried desperately to find him a high paying job like her ex had. She wanted to continue the life style she considered entitled and accustomed too. Her precipitous fall ended as a twice divorced, middle aged woman with weekend kid visitation baggage. Heresperate search for a high paying job ended as a grocery store clerk. I once checked out at her cashier stand but could tell as we exchanged plesantries she was embarrassed to have me see what fate dealt her. In empathy, I shopped at a different store thereafter.
Erica divorce too, caught with an alpha male, by her husband's private investigator, with photo finish proof. Avoiding barhopping with her and not being at her house when men were there saved me. Her husband demanded child custody and no alimony. Nervous about receiving a subpoena to testify in a divorce, I cut off contact despite friendship to avoid being dragged into the muck. It was unnecessary. She eagerly agreed for a cash settlement, packed up and left to where the action was, LA, sans son.
The father having custody was best. The boy continued to play at our house and eat my cinnamon rolls. She visited occasionally for a couple of years after and titillated with her LA international amorous exploits. She worked at the LA Airport Hertz rental car agency, perfect for her to meet executive alpha males. After a few years, however, she met and married a controlling, dominate male. He managed her by never letting her out of his sight. They soon had 2 kids. She visited with her new husband once but we only got to talk in whispers when he was in the other room. She no longer had anything amorous to say and was happy to be controlled. It’s what she needed.
Those who avoided divorce by evading exposure or threw their lover under the bus for a husband who forgave them dropped affairs club membership. Some gained weight, dressed slovenly and risked losing their husband while faithful. Others kept trim, attractively adorned themselves and continued the battle of the sexes, with their husband. I was among the latter.
The 70’s were over. Promiscuity was again out. The Red Guards of AIDS and other STDs crushed the Sexual Cultural Revolution.
I was a survivor, happily married with children, due to stealth but also luck. Luck, luck I didn’t slip and trip and luck my husband didn’t stumbled on the truth. Maybe it wasn’t luck. Maybe it was my guardian angel, or my husband’s or the kid’s. Maybe God saved me. It didn’t matter, I accepted my survivor’s fate and skipped the “what if’s”.
The kids needed attention as their school activities expanded. I was a full-time mom and faithful wife. I stopped flirting.
Then coming home from work one evening in 1984 my husband announced.
“We need to talk. We need to talk about something serious. It’s about us and the future. It requires you to tell me something, not necessarily tonight but by tomorrow. It’s complicated. We’ll discuss it after dinner.”
“What is it? Tell me what you need to know now.”
“No, no, after dinner, after the kids are fed and watching TV. I got to think how to say it too.”
I switched from cooking to panic.
Something’s up, he’s been moody, withdrawn, even disinterested in sex.
The economy’s bad. He’s lost his job? Neighbors are losing jobs, their houses, getting divorced.
Oh God, divorce, he knows something! Oh, please God, not my wanton secret puppet shadow! Please God don’t let him ask for a divorce. What’s he need to tell me? What does he know? Is it another? Please not another.
For the last couple of months, he’d been staring off in space, thinking of something but would never "talk" when I asked what was up. Now my mind raced from the "talk" being an announcement he lost his job, to he discovered my infidelity, to he loved another to he was divorcing me. The latter 2, between his finding about my wantoness, to his finding another, to renounce me and divorce me made losing his job sound wonderful.
During dinner, my mind churned between who he might be in love with to what secret of mine had leaked out that he’d discovered. His losing his job turned into the only possible good news. During the meal, I excused myself and ensured my diary’s hiding place remained intact. It was.
With dinner finished, the table cleared, the dishes in the sink, the kids sent to watch TV, I went from the kitchen to the dining room with fresh coffee to learn my fate.
He sat, sipped his coffee and mulled over what to say, perplexed how to start. While he gathered his thoughts, I was a doe eyed deer, caught facing the glare of an incoming revelation which would determine my future. My wanton secret puppet shadow scrambled for a global innocent explanation or deflection if the “talk” was about her. I searched for the proper “stiff upper lip” response if he loved another. I resolved not to beg if he asked for a divorce but knew I would with tears.
At last, he looked up from his cup and asked.
"Would it be okay if I quit my job? Not quit work, my job. I want to start my own business, our business. I know business is bad now but that's the best time to start. What do you think?"
Relief swept me. NO, it was exhileration. My wanton secret puppet shadow hopped back into her hole. There was no other woman! I couldn't suppress the open smile which revealed my delight. I didn't want him to think I was ridiculing his quitting but still couldn’t suppress my joy.
"Come on now, I'm serious. I've given it a lot of thought. It's risky. I know. I don't know if my job will last. We can borrow on the house to start. What do you think?"
Still smiling, and then giggling, I replied.
"Honey, where did you take me from when we met?"
As soon as the words were out I regretted them. It was an unfair question which placed him in a quandary. I didn't intend to, I just wanted to start with a simple question so I could readily agree to his decision. He struggled for a safe answer. I suspected he thought.
“If I say the east San Jose slum of Tropicana Village she’ll think I’m saying she was just a poor girl, a nothing until she met me, her opinion worthless. To say from her dysfunctional family is even worse.”
He mulled it over, smiled and replied.
"From behind your Pee Chee folder you shielded yourself when walking home from school as we first met?"
I broke into laughter at his clever reply, jumped up, hugged and kissed him.
"No, No, Tropicana Village! That's where you found me. That's where you took me from. That’s where we found each other. That’s where we came from!
I’ll gladly go back there as long as it’s with you! Do you understand? I'm your wife. I go where you go. We’re together for better or worse! It's been all better, so what if it gets worse as long as we’re together. When are we starting? "
As we hugged and kissed the kids came over, looked at us as if crazy. They stared as if something incomprehensible was about to be announced. Our daughter asked if I was pregnant. Our hugging and kissing over the announcement we were starting a business was considered by them inconsequential. They returned to TV thinking nothing was up but it was; a new business, a major change in our lives for better or worse.
I was the first employee, bookkeeper and problem solver. My life shifted from chauffer mom to swirling in the chaos of starting a business. It provided enough adventure and income uncertainty I didn't have room for wanton thoughts. Although we didn't restate marriage vows we did by our actions.
As the business started to make money, our social circle changed. Many "friends" became jealous. To retain prior equality status, they disdainfully attributed haughty attributes on to me. We tried not to antagonize them with displays of wealth but some spread malicious rumors to level the playing field.
It was easier to develop new "friends" who accepted our higher economic status than keep jealous old ones. Only a few “old” friends made the cut.
Soon we could afford a large custom home, travels to Europe and Asia with the kids in tow and expensive toys, mine being a 1986 Mercedes 500SE, V-8 with manual 4 speed transmission.
Hubby bought me trophy rings more expensive than any other. First a big 4 carat diamond wedding ring and then an emerald, appropriate for his past jealous suspicions.
In middle age success, I attempted to retain sex appeal with upscale apparel, cosmetics, and mannerisms. Female news commentators were my fashion role models.
My husband's, business, however, seduced him and became his mistress, an obsession. He was in love. He thought about it 24/7 including in his dreams. I couldn’t compete. He’d found another after all.
I needed to find my own.
Author Notes: Relief sweep wife as she learns she is not being divorced.