Chapter 1: Who's Cheating Who?

"I thought I knew her well.

I really couldn't tell,

That she had another lover on her mind.

You see, it felt so right,

When she held me tight.

How could I be so blind?"

Alan Jackson

Even though my name was really Jack—Jack Johnson—everyone always wanted to call me John. It was a particular problem when I (against my Dad's advice) joined the Army. There are sergeants scattered all over the world that are convinced they knew John Johnson. Now who would name their son John Johnson ... that's a pathetic name!

Lately I have been thinking thoughts I never expected to have on my mind. I'd always been impressed with the implied sanctity of that bit in the wedding vows where the bride and groom promise to love only one another, " ... until death do us part." That had caught my attention as being somewhat serious and I took it literally. I'd for sure assumed that Jenny Johnson nee Wilson had felt the same.

So I'd been musing: what is it that leads a man or woman into that sense that all is not right with their marriage ... that infidelity may be in the air? I hear men say that they never had a clue—that there was nothing that they could perceive that might have indicated a straying wife.

Other men indicated that there were clues: changes in behavior that, though they were small in themselves, led to an aggregate that said in big bold letters: cheater, cheater.

Maybe everyone is right: there is such a vast range in the personalities, attitudes, and learned and instinctive behaviors that each situation is different. For me it was simple. You live with a person long enough, and if you have any sensitivity or empathy towards your 'significant other, ' you can tell that the relationship is not right, that changes are taking place, possibly, even probably, unbeknownst to you. Now these changes may be sudden and strong as an earthquake or slow and so incremental that you aren't sure if anything has changed at all.

But, it isn't really being able to quantify and identify what the changes are ... it's just that at some subliminal level you sense that something has changed. You become uneasy without knowing why. Your comfort level with your spouse is not the same but you are not really uncomfortable at all. It's like there was some infinitesimal shift in the space/time continuum and one day you realize that the world is a different place ... but still awfully familiar. It would be like you had a neighbor that looked and acted exactly the same way but suddenly he was left-handed. You try to figure out whether he was always a lefthander or if all of a sudden maybe you were losing it.

I hesitated to talk to Jenny about it—I mean, what could I say? If I started talking to her about sub-atomic particles and how they were reflecting changes in our relationship she would give me one of those looks and throw away my beer. And dammit, I had about as close a relationship with my Shiner Bock as I did with her. It later turned out that Shiner Bock was more deserving of my love hands down. And that was without even considering longneck Lonestars. It was hell to realize that your beer was more faithful than your wife!

It took several months of ruminating over the intricacies of married life before all the little disturbances in the force crystallized in the firm conclusion that, "Damn, she's cheating on me." I didn't confront her right away. I came to be curious to see if I could detect any clear changes in her schedule, behavior or her attitude towards me. One thing was for sure though. If she had a problem that I could have helped her with that was serious enough, she could have—and should have—come to me about it so we could work it out. If she hadn't ... well, I wouldn't be feeling one whole hell of a lot of forgiveness.

She hadn't come to me about any problems so when (not if, I was way past if) ugly things came to the light of day, it was over. The image came to me of turning over a rotted log in the forest. All the dank, smelly, disgusting things that live in the heart of darkness scurry as fast as they can for another dark hiding place. Would that be the case with Jenny? The nasty things in life that feast on the darkness of infidelity are nothing but ugly and repulsive when seen under the clear light of reason and faithfulness.

Would I forgive her? Can America forsake Chinese imports and Middle-Eastern oil? It's not like I wasn't essentially a man that forgave, I mean I am clearly a forgiving man. When Jenny backed her new Mercedes into the dumpster at the local Kings Soopers, did I yell at her? No, I gave her a supporting hug and told her, "Dear, these things happen." When she forgot my birthday last year, I just smiled and said, "I'm not counting birthdays anymore."

But a man has to have some level of pride. Yeah, I know. Pride comes before a fall. But sometimes you have to take the fall if you want to be able to live with yourself. So I spent some considerable time thinking about what I'd do and where I'd go. It turned out later that it didn't make any difference. Circumstances sometimes happen to us and we go with the flow—it seems easier and logical ... even predestined.

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Story tagged with:
Romance / Drama / War /