After the burdens of learning family heritage truths, William's abandonment and Paul's debasement, it took time to put my shattered self-image back together. Often, I would break down and cry. Instead of being gregarious, I became reclusive. Seeing me so, hubby worried I was having a midlife crisis. I was, due to knowing too much; too much about myself.
With Paul’s debasement, I’d learned the dark side of who my secret puppet shadow was. I’d learned about Mom's past; my older brother was the result. She was sold to a Hawaiian serviceman brothel, and shipped to a San Francisco, Chinatown brothel. I’d learned my mother in law cheated on her husband, called her love child’s abortion a miscarriage, let a man she never loved raise a child not his and destroyed his life to save her own.
How do you inform the family, the central female figure is a liar, cheater, and a serial adulteress? How do you tell them, one grandma was in brothels, the other let her husband raise a child, not his? How do you reveal the central male figure doesn't know his real father?
The insidious implications of candor were profound. Why ruin everything? The truth wouldn’t set anyone free. Everyone would lose, me most of all. The cobweb of guilt had to remain on my shoulders, alone.
Then, who was I? The bitch whore, a serial adulteress caught in the act. Worse, my debasement, the things I did for Paul. Who could I transfer some of my unwanted knowledge onto? Tell Mom? Ruin her image of the good daughter? Hubby, destroy his happiness, the happiness of children and grandchildren? There was no one.
Bubble baths, lotions, perfumes, attire, cosmetics, none could soothe my soul’s blemish. I tried going to church but God wasn’t in to hear my pleas. My husband's concern and kindness made it worse; I couldn't kiss him on the lips. I needed forgiveness but like a spy, I couldn't reveal my secret shadow to anyone.
In 1995, two years after Paul's debasement, I became a grandmother. A joyous event, but one my soul’s blemish kept me from fully enjoying.
Soon after, however, serendipitously, I entered our bank with the office weekly business receipts and met Gabriel. We knew one another, not by personal or business relationships, but by community service. When the kids were in school, I volunteered for school fundraisers and hit on community businesses. I especially hit on banks.
My rationale, like Willie Sutton’s reply to why he robbed banks, was simply, “that’s where the money is.” I boldly told them I came for the one-hundred-dollar check they owed the school. If they balked, I scolded, charmed, and flirted to get their donation, consistently the top fundraiser.
Local businesses dreaded seeing me during school fundraisers. The problem of fundraising is reciprocity. Other volunteer fundraisers return the favor. Gabriel’s bank was good for two-hundred dollars every year but he was also a fund-raiser who then stopped at our office. He penciled out what I collected from him. He’d not come around in years because I stopped haunting him after the kid's graduation.
So, we smiled in recognition.
"Oh, hi Gabriel! You’re at this branch now? How much?"
"I'm not fundraising but I’m so glad to see you again. I often think of you. I admire you so."
Admires me? Because he doesn’t know me.
"Why do you admire me so?"
"Because you are the most honorable person I know and do so much to help others."
Honorable? After Paul? If he knew me, he’d shun me.
"Well, it's mutual. I admire you too. Why are you working at this branch, promotion?"
"Yeah, they made me a vice president of something with no raise. How's your family?
Better than I deserve.
"Everyone's fine, kids out of college, working, married, making me a grandmother. We're still slaving away. How about you, how’s the family?'
"Girls out of high school, out of the house, working, everyone’s doing okay."
He left out Judy.
"How's the wife?'
"You know Judy. Always searching, dealing with issues."
Issues wonder what issues he's dealing with for him to break eye contact.
"Well how about lunch, so you can update me?"
Gabriel was forty-seven, three years older than his wife. While having a steady bank income he was not well off, only "respectable" with an income which allowed a modest home in a nice area provided he lived on a budget. He was on the short side at five feet seven, my height, but had perfect features making him diminutive handsome. His skin was clear of blemish and he had natural red lips with a slight curl down. He kept his full head of black hair short which accented his pale blue eyes.
If you heard his voice on the phone, you’d think you were talking to a full-sized man. His attire, always unremarkable, was outright slovenly, a gray polyester suit, wrinkled JC Penny white shirt, scuffed black wingtip shoes and a nylon blue tie of outdated width. It was obvious he was stressed. At the next-door restaurant, I tactfully inquired what was bothering him as we waited for our salad.
“What’s up, Gabriel, birthdays getting you down? Judy's happy the kids out of the house but you miss them? You look stressed, like me, not thinking of starting another career, are you?
"Didn't realize it was obvious."
Hmmm, something big bothers him. He’s devastated, like me.
"It's ok, I keep secrets. Got lots of my own, skeletons too. Some would scare you, real boo-boos. Feel free to unload, I'll help by listening. It's the only thing I'm good at."
It was conversation talk, not a real offer to get involved.
"Judy's involved with another. She may leave me."
Surprise was my reaction, not about infidelity. A surprise because of her infidelity.
She’s having an affair? She’s not that attractive, on the plump side, dowdy even, aging too. She’s an idiot, Gabriel’s already above her marriage market grade. What’s she thinking?
The restaurant crowded, I replied.
"Well let's talk it over after lunch, in my car. We’ll keep it confidential. If I can help, I will."
A chance encounter with an old fund-raising competitor, a simple lunch. Keep it simple, don’t turn it into a commitment. My skeletons are too rattled to help another. Well, let’s hear what’s it all about, my interest’s piqued. Maybe I can save a marriage.
After lunch, I drove him to a quiet area, turned off the car, not sure how to start.
What’d be hubby’s mental state on finding me in an affair?
"Gabriel, how’re you holding up?"
"It's hard to talk about. It doesn't even make sense."
Well, that's sure as hell true. How'd she slip-up? I've been so careful but some want to slip-up, they leave hints.
"What you say, I’ll keep just between us. How’d you find out?"
"Little things, her anger over nothing, avoiding me, always complaining nothing I did was right. She worried about her weight, started dressing up more, sexy lingerie. Not wearing it for me, coming home late from work, disappearing for long bouts of shopping."
As we talked, I selfishly concentrated on my own issues. In response to his suspicions, my mind mulled over my possible exposures.
Oh God, have I belittled hubby, caused petty arguments? No, only when with Edward, did we argue. I’ve comingled the lingerie, guilty but safe. I wore them for hubby too. No, remember the logo panties?
I’m not late from work, it’s my skipping out of it. Too much? Did they generate suspicions? Too many absences? Oh, the shopping excuse. I’ve worn that out. Morose too, it’s a sign I’ve done something. I got to smile more.
I started to worry about my predicament as we talked. I continued to pump him for signs of my own “little things”.
“So, she wasn’t caught in the act, you noticed little things?”
He hesitated, then his story became a torrent of anguish. He had suspected for a year but she always fiercely denied. She said he was crazy until he thought maybe he was but then he hired a private investigator to determine who was crazy. A week later he got documented details. The other man was five years younger, a financial loser, tall but not handsome. Confronted with the evidence her reaction was a rage for his hiring an investigator.
Never should have belittled hubby for his suspicions, but what could I do? Never picked losers, well, Daryl, hubby would put Daryl in the loser category. Oh, God Paul!
An investigator, my biggest fear, always tried to keep suspicion level low enough to avoid an investigator. Always assumed there might be one. My nightmare, caught in the act. What if William’s love contacted hubby? She still might out of spite. Too late now. No evidence anymore.
Gabriel continued. Once her anger subsided, his wife admitted her affair. She needed love, had found it at last and told Gabriel she loved him but not romantically anymore. She told him she wanted time to figure things out, then listed his many faults.
During affairs, hubby was always first for me. No, how about Edward?
Hubby’s number one because I’m number one. I needed him to be able to be me. He’s always had my respect because he supports me. I’m selfish. I’m guilty too. I don’t nag, well just like any wife, little things, about how he knots his tie. I'm going to stop nagging about knots. I meet his sexual needs.
As he fell silent, I asked,
"Do you sleep together?"
"No, I moved to the daylight bedroom after confronting her."
He’s given up the marriage bed when she should. Now he’s a man not milked?
"No, no, not since the confrontation, before excuses not to, if we did, acted as if she was doing a favor.
Never, ever, let hubby go around un-milked!
“I'm trying to correct my shortcomings she pointed out, try to be romantic. I tell her I love her, give her time to figure things out. I bought her an expensive necklace but she simply said thanks then wore it when she went to see him. She’s financially irresponsible, spends lavishly on clothes and I expect gives him money. I don't know what to do. I want her back but nothing I do helps."
She doesn’t care if she belittles him. She’s paying her lover boy for the attention, probably some bum with sweet words. Gabriel’s living alone in his basement while she acts the queen bee in the master bedroom. How can he face the night?
"How much have you been drinking?"
"Too much, I drink when she's gone to sleep then wake up at 2 AM and toss and turn until I get up to work."
"Are you eating?"
"I lost ten pounds. You may have not noticed because I gained that much before this all started. I don't think now this is her first time."
Oh God, me with Paul, only reverse, hating myself.
He was crying as his torrent of anguish finished. His revelation resurrected my guilt. It was obvious; however, if he wanted his wife back, he was doing everything wrong. I asked.
"She ever acted like this before?"
"Once but she snapped out of it after a couple of months."
I figured it was her second affair. The first probably ended when she was tossed under the bus by her lover.
Judy was a stay at home mom until the daughters left high school. She then took an office assistant job. What she made she spent on herself but it was not enough to live on. She needed Gabriel to finance her lifestyle, her Beta backup man. The last time I saw her she was fighting aging with all weapons, maybe a little too much based on her makeup and length of dress. She was in midlife crisis.
With my amoral life, I couldn't criticize. I put my arm around Gabriel and his head to my bosom until he stopped crying. As he calmed, I told him I was not the honorable person he assumed, there were sins. There was an Edward in my past but blamed my husband's swinging agenda. I cried too but for myself, not Gabriel. Spent, I asked if he still admired me. He was shocked at my revelation but said he still admired me, maybe more. He thought less of my husband.
Calmed after the catharses of tears I told him.
"You need to change. You're never going to win her back trying to please her. She’s in a fantasy. You need to destroy her fantasy with reality. Currently, you're supporting her fantasy. Distance yourself; don’t let her take you for granted, think about how great Gabriel is. Don’t let her put you down. The marriage with the woman you married is over. Instead of pleasing her, please yourself. “
“I’m trying to bring her back to love me!”
“No! What you’re doing is driving her away. You got to drive in reverse to go forward. Tell her while you love her, you’re moving on, you know the marriage is over and are accepting it’s over. Inform her you are in the process of and making plans for a life without her. Tell her if she wants to stay married it is up to her, not you. Tell her if she wants to stay married, she has to fix the marriage because she broke it.”
“She’ll just say great, go.”
“No, she wrecked the marriage but she stays in the wreckage for economic security. Tell her it’s time she leaves the house. Tell her to go and live with her true love because she’s ruined the marriage you gave her. Say it calmly. Never raise your voice, don’t engage in conversation. Only talk about the kids, household stuff and finances. If she asks why you don't want to talk, tell her you've departed from the wrecked marriage, the marriage she crashed. Remind yourself constantly the marriage is over and she ended it. If she gets upset, tries to argue walk away even if you need to walk outside. Leave her to yell and scream, alone.
Reclaim your marriage bed. Tell her to sleep in the daylight basement until she moves out as she’s violating the marriage bed, not you. If she doesn't, move her things when she is with her boyfriend. Put a lock on the bedroom door if necessary. Take control of your finances. Only you pay the bills. Do you think you can do that?"
"It's going to cause big arguments. She pays the bills now. She might kick me out."
He needs a total workover. He’s got to go from five-foot-seven to over six feet. Helping him regain respect, may help me too.
"Don't do anything yet. First, I'm going to have you think Alpha, not Beta. Currently, you are only B&B to her, beta backup. For now, no drinking. Watch a movie, read, exercise, go for a walk or whatever helps get your mind at ease and eat and sleep as best you can. You're no longer going to chase her, it's time she starts chasing you. Can you come up with two thousand five hundred dollars to spend even if you have to take it out of a savings account?"
"I could charge it on my bank card."
"Good, take tomorrow afternoon off, I'll pick you up at noon; we’re going shopping. Tomorrow is the start of “AG”, Alpha Gabriel. Don't worry."
Back at the bank, we hugged before he got out. He was nervous hugging in the parking lot but I told him his wife was doing more than hugging and if anyone saw and told her it was just part of the new Alpha Gabriel, Gabriel the Archangel.
The next afternoon we drove to SeaTac Mall and had lunch with wine.
I paid the tab over his protests. After lunch, I took him to an upscale men's clothing store. Thumbing through the racks with the salesman we agreed on a dark blue wool suit costing $1,000 then selected a light brown sports coat and darker color matching slacks which totaled $500. The remaining $1,000 we spent on shirts, boxer trunks, aftershave, silk ties and two pairs of shoes, one oxford formal the other casual which I bought as his allowance was spent.
The oxfords made him appear a little taller. He wore the new suit, a dress shirt, and shoes back to the car. In the car, I asked,
"I'm in shock."
I leaned over and kissed him on the lips. He was stunned but didn’t pull back. I dropped him off at the bank without further conversation. When he got out, I told him.
"It's time to tell her to move to the other bedroom. If she asks about the clothes just say you got them at the Mall, that you need them as you move on now that the marriage is over. That's all she is entitled to know. If she refuses to move or tries to argue, go for a walk, read a book, or go to a movie. Move her out of the bedroom when she’s out. I'll check up on you in a couple of days. Let's see her reaction. Remember to take over the finances. Don't ask her, just start changing the accounts."
I called the next Monday. Not wanting to talk on the bank phone he asked me to lunch, saying he was buying this time. When we met, we kept the conversation to pleasantries to avoid anyone hearing. He wore the brown blazer and looked good in it. His stride and posture were sturdier than the downcast stance of a few days ago but he was still a beaten-down man. I ordered a second bottle of wine.
In the car, I asked.
"Well, how did ‘it go?"
"She did not comment on the clothes but looked at me oddly. I got the courage to ask her to move from the bedroom. She simply nodded but didn't move. I started changing finances but she doesn't know about that yet. "
"Wait until she’s out, preferably with him and move back to your bedroom. Pile everything of hers in the other bedroom. Without sex, are you masturbating?"
He wouldn't answer.
"It's normal. Many times, I’ve taken soapy showers to relieve sexual tension."
He needs more than new clothes. His libido needs milking by a woman instead of his hand. He needs to climax thinking he’s a man.
I drove north on Interstate 5 as we talked and pulled off to a new Holiday Inn Express. Parked, I told him to get a room and to use his credit card.
He looked at me with uncertainty, hesitated.
"I don't think this is a good idea."
"It's okay, just go in. I’ll go with you."
After we checked in, we rode the elevator to the fourth floor and walked to the room in silence. He slid the card in the card lock and when the green light lit, I opened the door and walked in. He stalled on the threshold but I grabbed his hand, led him to the bed and sat him down.
It was unexpected but a strange sensation overcame me. It had nothing to do with sex. Other affairs were as if I was my father. Now I was my mother, an innocent whore milking a man. Well, it wasn’t exactly like that but it did cross my mind. I wanted to help him, to help me.
Undressing him, he made minimum movements to assist, as if an innocent led astray. I tsk, tsked at the old underwear under his new clothes. He was limp. I took off only my blouse, got a wet hand towel and bathed his pubic area. He remained limp but soon oral and finger simulations overcame the wine and fear he was experiencing.
Despite being small in height, his penis was full length, seven inches and circumcised. His pent-up frustrations soon spewed out on a motel towel. Depleted he lay back on the bed with me next to him. We stared at the ceiling. I let his male ego coalesce then continued re-building his Alpha.
"Gabriel there's nothing wrong with you. Judy should be satisfied."
"I watch porn. It's one of Judy's complaints."
"It's a common male disease. It's okay. I catch my husband looking at it too.”
Author Notes: You help yourself by helping others.