I was drawn to affairs prematurely.
When I was twelve I so desperately wanted someone else’s boyfriend I reverted to entertainment tactics -lacking the breasts necessary to lure him away from the hormone-pumped girl of his fancy.
On a ferry, on the way back from France, I made him laugh so much that he cried.
I went to the ferry toilet, still wishing for fleshy lumps on my chest, but happy with my impact. The girlfriend was in the toilets, crying, but not with laughter:
“Bitch! I could never make him laugh like that!!”
Then when I was 15 I had a fairly substantial affair with my friend’s boyfriend. He started it. But I gleefully went with it. He’d turn up to find me in my school uniform, we’d snog in my room for hours, then he’d go. God knows what my mum thought. Let alone my friend.
As karma dictates, I have been paid back in kind. Speeding down the highway knowing my acid-dropping friend was committing to several rounds of action with my very-fresh ex.
Staying with men even though I knew their balls were regularly in other women’s courts.
Threatening a girl in Australia with a cricket bat should she attempt to come any closer to me.
Untidy, nasty, spiteful things, these affairs. God knows, I have paid for my slip-ups, both with harrowing guilt, and also literally. I once bought an ex one of those scientific clocks that projects the time onto the ceiling. All because I climbed into a stranger’s bed one night and woke up to him attached.
And so far as I can fathom I have no excuse for this inclination. My parents are still together, after nearly thirty years of hard slog, with relatively few hiccups.
My only hunch, caveated to the above, is that as neither of them had affairs, they somehow gave covert permission for me to spray myself over all and sundry; no matter what package is attached. Make your own mistakes and blame the parents anyway.
I by no means condone affairs: I have disapproved openly of my friends who wanted a taste of how the other half lives.
I detest the mock-love and big-tittedness of those who say: “It’s great, he comes raand, bonks me rotten then goes again! It’s been going on for years”.
A married man defining boundaries on his convenient terms, keeping his throwaway hole on the side for seconds. Reserving enough thrust for distraction.
It’s easy to cast judgement on other people’s misgivings.
It’s also fairly difficult to accurately define an affair. A slip of the tongue with no real intention behind it is not an affair right? If you do not intend to play away, then you are not being unfaithful, right?
But somehow I have in recent weeks nearly got myself into an affair. A different kind of ‘one’. Not a ‘cock-in-your-face cum remedial-massage’, love in the afternoon-type affair.
A real connection with someone, who happens to be with someone else. A meeting of minds online turning into a brief encounter in person.
A possibly intended affair.
Uncomfortable with this, I turned to Wikipedia for guidance; or at least for definition:
It eased me in gently with ‘political affair’. Phew – not having one of those, opinionated though we both may be.
Next up – romantic affair. Now I am taken by this concept. “An affair is by its nature romantic”. Yes, yes, go on – “an agreement within an open relationship, where some forms of sex are permitted and others not.”
Though we have only kissed, it is without permission from his wife.
The Wiki goes on to define ‘extramarital affairs’. Gulp. ‘Online affairs’. Glug glug. ‘Polyamory, infidelity, betrayal of trust and integrity, gaslighting, lying, covert manipulation and deception’.
Oh. So that’s what we’re doing.
What is this monster we have created? A monster fed by the intravenous dripfeed of facebook messages. A monster that makes me write doolally poetry and turn to Wikipedia for wisdom.
Though I by no means intend to excuse myself, the allure of affairs lies in the theoretical independence they grant me.
After all, I am not the one committing the affair (though I could be prosecuted for the intention in eight states of America).
I can be as ‘unfaithful’ as I like; flitting man-to-man, knowing that a ready-made someone-else’s is there to fall back on (when the wife’s back is turned).
This safety net, this buffer is the attraction:- I could be up a mountain in Scotland right now making wild mushroom love to a Russian.
But that thought fills me with nothing but insecurity. What if I fell off the edge? Shattered my equilibrium? Had to deal with undefined emotions out there in the real world?
Whereas the parameters set with my mystery man suit my purpose; providing me with just the measure of angst needed to feel like I have a love life, whilst not being detrimental enough to heed me from my reckless personal business. I am a busy woman.
I can slot him into a back suspension file in the cabinet of my mind. A vague rustling comfort. An excuse to occasionally cascade into neuroses as I tap away at him on facebook.
And when we meet I can be a perfect, glittering, free all-woman for him to desire. And we can be wonderful together until wonderful fades into next-day’s nine-to-five. An affair borne out of creativity and nurtured in cyberspace. An affair not mucked-upon by big-tittedness or disrespect.
I sound quite keen, don’t I?
Moral theory goes out of the shuttered window when it comes to a real affair of the heart. But I truly did not mean for it to happen, and I truly intend for it to stop.
Wikipedia is not going to tell me how.
And soon enough, as I gaze into his guilt-free face, I will start to wonder: “Where is this going?”
And Wikipedia is not going to tell me where.
Logic and reason scream at me to cut this tomfoolery dead.
So I have decided to ride out the waiting game.
Throw the charade into the passage of time to fade away.
And I have learnt that although there is no good excuse for the first kiss, it happens – people having more curiosity than sense, wanting to see what’s on the other side of the mountain.
That affairs can be as complex and difficult to get out of as the relationships suffering behind them. Affairs; messy, unromantic destructors of reality that provide no refuge from the truth of the matter – go home to your wife, your dinner is on the table.
And if my faux-lover’s wife ever found out about us, the affair would immediately lose its allure, and I would lose several organs. Hell hath no fury. The curtain would come crashing down to reveal us, red-faced in our pants. A fizzling balloon colliding with the cold thump of day.
I am no Mrs Simpson, no Mrs Robinson. I will not end up in a semi-detached in Tunbridge Wells, popping placating pills with my Pinot Grigio to anaesthetise the fact that what sits slumped next to me was not mine to take in the first place.
Knowing the thing I have taken was not earned.
Not worth the betrayal of solidarity to a fellow woman who loves her man.
Better to mourn briefly a love never known, than spend a lifetime knowing that I stole love from someone else.
Better for her to keep him; him and his vagrant ways, better for him to open his eyes to appreciate what he’s got in his own backyard, rather than barking up my tree in the mythical garden of temptation.
This is goodbye.
The moments we stole fading into a nonsensical history, scattering themselves as leaves to autumn. Suspended in golden-glow in the time-space continuum, waiting to be found one day in a time capsule.
An incomplete portrait of me and the man I nearly loved.