Sometimes they give us ladies something nice to look at during endless football, soccer and baseball games.
Sometimes they just give us the creeps.
Husbands of other women were never attractive to me, not even the truly hot ones. There's just something about that wedding band, something about the fact that they "belong" to another that sort of distorts them in my mind. Like an old school t.v. screen would get all wavy and wiggly while your brother fiddled with the antennae.
Even when I found myself as the token "Divorced Gal" at gatherings, I still felt that way. In fact, during the phase of my life when I actually sought out male companionship, I developed an irritating habit of quickly scanning the left hand of any male between the ages of 28 and 65 and over 5'5". Still do it to this day...see a ring, there's no schwing.
It's almost as if that shiny little band of gold or platinum essentially turns men into eunuchs in my eyes. Mostly sweet, friendly eunuchs, of course, but eunuchs nonetheless. (If there's any sort of record for using the word "eunuch" incessantly in a blathering blog post, please let me know. I may be on to something.)
99.9% of my friend's husbands were AWESOME to me after my divorce. They continue to be, to this day.
Some of them have helped me with stuff around the house. One of them offered up his law firm's assistance. Others have helped out indirectly by being strong male role models to my kids, showing them that some guys do stick around and put family first. Those guys are gold.
Unfortunately, there are also some tarnished ones.
I've only come across a couple, one was way back when I was married, in a time I call "B.S." (Before Secretary). There was a wedding Big Daddy and I attended, and without going into the drama and bore of that whole event I'll just say that one husband there crossed the line. But that was a million years ago, and no, sweet 18 readers, it's no one you know. I never even told Big Daddy about that one...chalked it up to the fact that I was brandishing my Big Breastfeeding Boobies back then, and the open bar.
The other one was more recent. It bothered me when it happened, still bothers me to this day. I told only a few close friends, three of them, I think. People whom I trust with this information, even if we were to part ways as friends.
This particular friend's husband has always been the huggy one, and really, there's nothing wrong with that. I'm a huggy touchy freak myself, but have learned to temper the urge to hug it out with anyone other than my bestest friends. But this one...his hugs last just a fraction of a second too long, and the hands move around a little too much. Too much to be taken as an accidental moment of awkwardness. In fact, a few of my friends and I had taken to calling him "Handsy", even before things took a turn towards the creepy. In his defense, I think all of us know/have known a Handsy or two in our lives, and they are usually harmless. Heebie-jeebie inducing, yes, but harmless.
So this one was just that. Harmless. Really, as far as I'm concerned, he still is. But Handsy was the first friend's husband to actually shock me.
Now, if you don't know me, you have to understand. I'm hard to shock. I'm the one who jokes with my friend's husbands about taking me on as their "second wife" (second in the polygamist way, not the divorce way), I constantly threaten to take their wives away and woo them into a steamy hot lesbian affair with me (this one happens after a few glasses of wine. Always.), the usual tip-toe up to the inappropriate line crap. I don't do this with people I've just met, by the way. That would be weird, even for me. This is the stuff that happens with the poor souls who have history with me.
So when I got the first text from Handsy, I was shocked.
It was late. Well, late for old farts like us. Maybe a bit past midnight. My kids were with Big Daddy, I'd had dinner and drinks with some friends and was just settling into bed when my phone chirped. At first I was confused, I didn't have Handsy's number programmed into my phone so all I saw was a phone number. And the short message beneath it:
"Are you alone? Need some company?"
Well crap. It could have been just about anybody. My list of victims was long, and my memory is not good. I have a hard time recalling my own damn cell number, for God's sake. So I shot back, "Who is this???".
This is what followed (Handsy in BOLD because that's what he is, dammit!):
"It's Handsy. So are you alone?"
"Well, define alone. There's a dog here. I'm just getting ready to watch some tv.. What are you guys doing?" (see?? YOU GUYS. I assumed he was up with HIS WIFE)
"Oh, thought you knew. I'm a bachelor this weekend. She's gone on business."
"Ahh I see, have you been enjoying the experience?"
"Well, I'm lonely. Thought I'd see if you needed anything. And I mean anything."
Here is when I realize that Handsy isn't just being silly. And you know what? As much as it kills me to admit this, for a second I was flattered. When you're a forty-something divorced chick who sleeps with a dog, and who spends the majority of her "alone time" watching DVDs from Netflix and trying to not eat every last pita chip in the bag, a little bit of attention can feel good.
But that only lasted a second. Then, I saw his wife's face, his child's face and I felt sick.
I answered back:
"Oh I think I'm good here. Thank you though." I know, right? Thank you, for offering to come over and butter my muffin while your wife, MY FRIEND, snores on some Comfort Inn pillow in some distant city. Some days I curse my Midwestern manners.
"You sure? I've never received any complaints about my services."
Now I was starting to feel a weird brew of anger and fear, and for some reason, guilt. I was angry, because of all the women in the world, why would he propose a tryst with one who was the victim of adultery? To try and help me out? To take away my frustrations? Because I'd be grateful for it? Was I really that pathetic? Or was he really just an asshole?
I wanted nothing more to do with this conversation. I already felt like I had peeked into someone's bedroom window, overheard someone's private conversation.
"I'm sure...I'm going to hit the hay. Have a good night."
He sent another one after that, just sort of verifying that no, I wasn't in need of his services. I slept crappy that night.
The next day I got an email from him, a very sheepish email full of apologies. He told me that he'd been out with some of "the guys" and had had too much to drink. I told him to forget about it, no biggie.
To be honest, I do understand allllll about doing dumb shit when you've had too much alcohol. Ask my old roommate about the time we were partying at a bar in Madison and I got a wild hair to walk home....to Minneapolis. They found me about 2 blocks away from the bar, apparently headed in the wrong direction. See, I get it. Drinks=dumb stuff.
But there's dumb stuff, and then there's really dumb stuff. Speaking as a woman who spent countless nights sitting up, waiting til 3 or 4 in the morning for my husband to get home, I know that there's a point where things cannot be cleared up with an "aw shucks" email the next day. Despite the fact that I told Handsy that it wasn't a big deal, that I understood, I was still pissed at him for dragging me into this mess. His mess. I had enough of my own, thank you very much. And I resented the hell out of being invited into this one.
One of the people in whom I confided asked me if I was going to tell the wife. I replied, simply, "No way in hell." She was surprised. She asked me if I had ever wished that someone had told me what Big Daddy was up to all those late nights.
You know what I told her?
No. Because it's not my place, not anyone's place to say anything. It's no one's business. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'll hear from someone who did find out and was grateful, but that's how I feel. If someone had shown up at my door all those years ago and warned me about my husband and that icky secretary, I would have for sure hated the message, and then in turn, hated the messenger.
I don't want to be that messenger. Ever.
Now, for the record, this particular friend and I were never super close. But we were friends. We are friends. I kept my distance after this episode, but still see them on occasion. Yes, them. They are together, and seem very happy. I'm glad.
Would things have been different if this was a best friend? I don't know. I hope to God that I never do know. This one brief foray into borderline extramarital muck was enough for me.
Made my dog-spooning, pita-chip eating, tv-watching self feel perfectly ok with my life and how I handled Handsy. If there's any good to be gleaned from this uncomfortable experience, I guess it's that.
Footnote: I have changed quite a few of the details here, but the gist of it hasn't been dramatically altered from the original event. The names of those characterized here will never, ever be revealed by me. So please don't try to guess, and please don't ask me who it is. Like poor Brittany Murphy in that one movie....."I'll never tell...."