“How to Catch Your Cheating Husband”
by Sarah Bailey
First, make some simple observations. Maybe he smiles more. Maybe he stays late at work, or leaves earlier in the morning. Maybe he walks differently, like he’s got springs glued to his soles. Maybe he dresses nicer and changes his shirts more often. Maybe there are no signs at all, but you just know. Trust that instinct. That’s your woman’s intuition, and it is never wrong.
Ask questions. Don’t be outright, of course. Say things like: How was your day? and What did you do today? Pay attention to hesitations in his answers and note them. If you can’t remember this kind of thing, write it down. Pretend you’re making a grocery list.
Compliment him. Tell him he looks handsome. Do people still say handsome? Tell him his hair looks thicker. Ask him if he’s been using the dumbbell set your mother bought him for Christmas—not that he needs it!
Show your appreciation. Say thank you when he takes his feet off the coffee table or when he offers to carry the trash to the curb. Let him open the pickle jar for you, even though you can do it if you bang it against the countertop. Your endless love and gratitude may make him feel guilty. Maybe he’ll become so miserable he will finally admit his transgressions, though this outcome is unlikely. If he doesn’t confess his crimes, you can still take pleasure in the fact that he’ll feel almost as badly as you do.
Study him. How does he act? Cold and indifferent? It’s probably because he’s in love with someone else. You’re no more appealing to him than cold pastrami. Is he attentive and chipper? Likely because he’s trying to cover himself. Don’t let him know that you know. Don’t give yourself away just yet. You need irrefutable proof. Or, at least, more time to torture him.
Drag it out. Put off the confrontation.
When he’s off on Saturday, don’t make him do any chores. Send the kids to your sister’s house. Now you two can be alone. If you have the body for it, fix dinner in nothing but an apron and black stilettos. If you don’t have the body for it, do it anyway. He probably won’t notice the squishy valleys in your thighs, or the suspicious new mole on your shoulder. When he asks you why you’re smiling at him, tell him you love him, even if you don’t mean it anymore. He won’t know you’re smiling because you’re cooking up delicious revenge.
Change into gray sweatpants and eat dinner in silence. This is not unusual. You haven’t had a multi-sentence conversation with him in months, except for the time he caught a cold and fell asleep watching Dexter. You recounted every moment when he asked. That was nice of you. Write it down in your Nice things I did for you while we were married journal. It’s smart to keep record of that sort of thing. Just in case.
Conduct your first official investigation before bed, while he’s still in the shower. As the saying goes: when in doubt, snoop about. Is that a saying? Your mother probably coined it.
Sift through the hamper. Ignore the holes in his underwear, those were there before. He refuses to buy clothes unless they’re falling off. Ignore the dirt on his jeans, that’s from yard work. He planted three rose bushes for you, though you’ve told him you abhor roses. Don’t ignore the Brooks Brothers shirt with the second button missing. Don’t bother dumping out the hamper to find the button. You know it isn’t there.
If you still have time, steal his cellphone. Listen for sound of stopping shower water—you don’t want to get caught. That will only give him a reason to be careful. Look through the received calls. Twenty-five minutes with his mother? Is that actually his mother’s phone number? Cross reference it with your own phone. Go through the text messages too, even if he doesn’t text much. Maybe he just doesn’t text you much. He could easily be texting that twenty-year-old dog-walking slut with the floppy D-cups and pointy snaggletooth.
He only has four messages in his inbox, and they’re all from coworkers. Or are they? Is Chris a man or a woman? Does “I have the briefs” mean I have the legal documents or I have the panties you left in my car? Or worse, is it an invented code for sex at 3:30?
Consider buying that phone-recording software you saw on a 20/20 report.
When he emerges from the shower, flooding your bedroom with steam, close your eyes. Go to sleep. If you aren’t tired, fake it. It wouldn’t be the first time you’ve done that. You need more proof. You need more time.
Put off the confrontation.
Pick up the kids from your sister’s the next day. Tell yourself that at least you’re a good mom—much better than your sister, who lets the children jump on the furniture and smack each other with headless Barbie dolls. Your sister says you seem tired. She says you’re looking ragged. Tell her you’ve found bedrock.
Call your husband from the car. Say you’re going to be gone all day. Take the kids to get frozen yogurt at the mall. Get them hopped up on sugar. Tell them you’re going to Disney World. That you’re having chocolate and cereal for dinner and using Pixy Stix as utensils. Pump them up and give him enough time to call her over. Then drive home, unexpectedly. Feel like an evil genius. No, just a regular genius. There’s nothing evil about this. Imagine how red and sweaty he’ll be. An embarrassed, dirty tomato of a man.
When you discover him sitting in front of the television, launch the kids at him. You’ve inflated them and untied the knots. Let them loose. Watch them run around in circles. He’ll ask why you came home so soon. He’ll ask why you let the children smoke crack. He’ll laugh and you’ll hate him for it. It is a rancorous chortle. He probably knew your plan—he’s crafty. Say you don’t feel well.
Feign a migraine and stay in bed all day.
Remember the migraine you had during your honeymoon. Remember how he dabbed your head with a washcloth and hung hotel sheets over the windows to make the room dark.
You aren’t ready yet. You need more time.
Put off the confrontation.
At work on Monday, you’ll probably feel distracted. That’s normal. Don’t let anyone know what’s going on. You don’t want or need that kind of pity. Tell your boss you aren’t feeling well. Tell her you’re going home.
When you get to the house, check that email. No, not your email. His password is saved in that Word document entitled Passwords. His password is your birthday? Probably so he doesn’t forget it, not because he actually cares.
Realize he must never check his email. 1327 unread messages. Look through them. Mostly junk mail. Mostly junk mail about his junk. Penis enhancers. Free Viagra. Experimental pumps. Is this spam? Or is this something else? Are these the crude emails of a requested subscription? Why would he need these things? To impress a new lady friend?
Open an email: Pics of the girls. It’s probably going to be something horribly pornographic and perverted. Cover your eyes while you wait for it to load. You don’t want to be traumatized. Can people get PTSD from porn? Google that later.
It’s just your brother-in-law with pictures of the new twins. They have smooshed raisin faces. They look like miniature Winston Churchills. Like innocuous Karl Roves.
Keep digging. You’ll unearth gold. You know it’s in there.
It has to be.
Finally, you find it, and it is in the form of a youngish redhead. You didn’t know he liked redheads. You didn’t know he liked what that redhead was doing to herself either. Feel a little sick.
Browse eBay for red wigs and Kama Sutras.
Enjoy the emptiness of the house. No kids, no cheating husband. Miss being alone. You lived alone before you met him in a studio bedroom apartment above a coffee house. You smelled like Kona and cinnamon cakes. You could do whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted. You could eat canned ravioli and wouldn’t gain a pound. You could sleep until noon. You never actually did, but you could, and that’s all that really mattered.
Feel suffocated. Look up lifestyle asphyxiation and become disheartened when no one on Yahoo! Answers has asked about it.
Watch bad daytime television. Paint your nails. Wonder if she has long finger nails—the fake kind. They’re probably blue with jeweled tips. They’re probably so long they curl over. The undersides are probably caked in dirt and grime. Remember to check his back for scratch marks. Do people actually do that? They do.
Drag up the exercise bike from the basement. You didn’t realize how out of shape you were until you saw Kelly Ripa’s arms and compared them to your own flying-squirrel patagium. Maybe that’s why he’s cheating on you. You’re not a size six anymore. You’ve really let yourself go. You have kielbasa fingers and cactus calves. You’re disgusting.
Plug in the bike and try it out. It’s not so bad. Peddle hard. Harder. Make it move, make it soar. Work out until your clothes are three shades darker with sweat and your heart explodes.
Vow to use the exercise bike every day from now on. You want to look better for him. No, you want to look better than him. You want him to miss you when you’re gone. You want him to feel a profound, haunting regret. An unfillable void.
Take a shower. Scrub every inch of your body until you’re raw. When you’re finished, stare at yourself in the mirror. The skin on your face is starting to sag. More on the left than the right. Is that even possible? It is. You’re developing horizontal wrinkles in your neck and tiny brown rhombuses on your chest. Cover your body in anti-age cream and plan to call Lancôme headquarters if it doesn’t work.
Rub in some expensive moisturizer—the kind with sunscreen and primer. Frost your face with makeup. Smear on some extra eyeliner, the way that redhead wore it. Decide that you look good, especially for your age. You’re fine. He’s the one who’s let himself go. He’s starting to bald. Plan on telling him he has old man ears when he gets home.
Take pictures of yourself from high angles. Put socks in your bra so you have some cleavage. Try to edit out the parts of the socks that are sticking out. Upload the photos to match.com or singlemingle.org for fun. Make your username 40isthenewSeXi. Write things like: “I’ll try anything once,” and, “I love spontaneity,” on your profile, though neither are true. You like planning and structure and routine, and you won’t try anything that smells funny.
Try to clean something. Try to cook something. Call your mom.
Lie on your bed and examine the splotches on the ceiling. He was bringing you soup and he tripped and the soup spilt all over the room. It flew out of the bowl. It defied gravity, physics, the very laws of nature. He said he would clean it up but there it was.
He is the chicken noodle soup stain on your ceiling.
Pull up the ladder from the shed. Get your sponge, your cleaner, your yellow rubber gloves that cover your elbows. Scrub the ceiling. Use the hottest water you can stand. Droplets will hit your face. Chicken-flavored tears. Rub the spot over and over, and flake the crusty parts off onto the floor. Push hard. Harder. A little too hard. Lose your balance. Fall, tumble, faint. Hurt yourself. It isn’t so bad.
When you’re sprawled chaotically on the ugly Berber carpet he selected, recall the first time you met him. Back when your skin was symmetrical and your hair hadn’t thinned with children. You struck him with your car by accident and he asked you out as a kind of payback/blackmail. You knew the accident was his fault. He shouldn’t have been riding his bicycle in the street like that. But he was cute and had dark hair and he talked like he knew what he was talking about, so you accepted. It wasn’t until much later that you realized he was completely full of shit.
Think, even just for a second, that perhaps you were happy together once.
Laugh at the thought.
Stand up. Crack your back. You’re fine. The worst part was waiting to land.
When the kids come home from school, help them with their homework. There are only a few more years you can still do that, after all. Take in the scene—just you and the kids. It’s probably going to be like that soon. Men never win the children. Wonder if they’ll blame you. Wonder if they’ll take sides. Wonder what childless divorcees do in their free time.
Sit on the couch. Place your head on the arm rest. Picture her. If she has blonde hair or if she’s a redhead. If she’s young or middle-aged. If she has a real job or is just a professional home wrecker. If she’s prettier that you. You once read that when a man cheats, it’s usually with someone less attractive than his wife. Buy one, get another at equal or lesser value free!
Laugh at your joke. Your kids will stare at you. The youngest looks a little afraid, even. Tell them you thought about something funny, now get back to fractions.
After a while, say you’re getting meatloaf from the freezer in the basement. Call his office when you’re down there. Realize too late that he doesn’t answer his own phones anymore. That’s what his sexretary is for. You’ve never met her, but image her to be a borderline obese cosmetology school dropout with child-sized hands who doesn’t take messages. Tell the porky-sounding phone-answerer that you’ll call back later.
Briefly consider calling his friends and asking if they know anything but ultimately decide against it. They’d probably lie to you too.
Go back upstairs. Pat your children on the head. They’re good kids, mostly. Let them watch TV.
Daydream. Fantasize about the revenge plastic surgery you’re going to have. About sitting alone in a soundless room. About shedding your skin like a blubbery cocoon and skipping around naked in a field. About meeting him in a public place with his new wife. Her D-cups have caused her to develop a hunchback.
Remember when you spent a weekend camping, before you were married. When you found some old church ruins in a clearing. Parts of the building were missing and burnt. You walked through a brick archway, past vines growing along what was left of the walls. You felt like explorers. He climbed the altar and pulled you up and held you for a moment. He tried to kiss your mouth too, but the altar was half rotted and collapsed under your combined weight. He missed and kissed your eyeball.
He could have given you pinkeye.
Around seven, start to worry. Then immediately hate that you spent a millisecond distressing over him. Hate that he’s never on time. Hate that he doesn’t have a favorite color. Hate that the corner of his right eye twitches when he’s had too much to drink. Hope he’s stranded on the side of the highway with twelve lonely truck drivers. You’ve seen the Dateline reruns. You know what those truckers do.
Call his cell phone. Feel relieved and annoyed when he answers. You’re done being nice now, it isn’t working. He obviously doesn’t feel a single pinch of remorse. He’s a sociopath. Ask him if he plans on coming home anytime soon. He’ll apologize. He’ll say he’s on his way home right now but got caught up with the Pfizer people. Wonder if the Pfizer people make the birth control Ms. Dirty D-Cups uses. Tell him he’s inconsiderate.
When he arrives home, the kids have already eaten. They’re upstairs in their bedrooms with their toys. There were leftovers, but you threw them out. Tell him that. He will look a little hurt, but mostly confused. You haven’t acted like this before. He’ll say he’ll just have the mac and cheese from last night. Tell him you threw that out too, even if you didn’t. He won’t check. He’ll get a protein bar from his briefcase.
A part of you enjoys being cold. The permafrost was there all along, and you had only built over top of it.
Sit at the kitchen table with him. Stare off, away. He’ll ask you how your day was. Say it was fine. Say you left work early. Say you noticed a button missing from his shirt while you were doing laundry today.
He won’t say anything, just look at you. Dumb. Concerned. You can’t tell.
Feel a little queasy.
Here it comes.
Don’t put off the confrontation.
Say: Are you seeing someone else?
Feel stupid and hot and sick. Maybe it’s vulnerability. Maybe it’s cancer. Hope for cancer.
He’ll look at you like you’re crazy. Maybe you are.
He’ll say no and I love you. He’ll ask, what ever gave you that idea?
Say: I am unhappy.
“People for Dummies”
by Eleanor Talbot
There are three kinds of people in the world.
Nice people. Medium people and crap people.
There are no other kinds of people.
Distance yourself from psycho babble and the sea of opinion; straight-up honesty is the best medicine for today’s modern malaise otherwise known as “tolerance”. Trying to sugar coat everything is confusing; it’s also why decent, hardworking folk end up marrying serial killers and children make friends with people who burn dogs. Yes, there are 50 shades of grey, but whether it’s dark grey or light grey, grey is grey. If you’re one of those people that say people can be nice but also crap, then I’m going to say you probably fall into the crap people category. Only crap people say nice people are crap- it’s called gossip. And gossip is crap, people.
Listen, you can’t become nice if you’re crap. The thing about being nice is that you’re either nice or you aren’t- you can’t pretend to be nice. Well you can, but normally there are people out there who will spot you a mile off – and those are the medium people. Contrary to what you’re thinking, medium people are not half-nice and half-crap; no, they’re a different category of folk who have the ability to recognise nice people and crap people, and usually choose to align themselves with either. This is a key point because medium people are not anything- they only become nice or crap depending on who they hang out with.
Think about Mother Theresa. There are other nuns, a great many thousand excellent nuns, going around the world cuddling starving kids and chatting about forgiveness. Have they been deified? Are they seen to be as nice as Mother Theresa? No, they are not. But they are seen as jolly nice nuns by the association of Mother Theresa being the nicest nun. Of course this isn’t to say that all nuns are medium people- no, there are nice nuns and crap nuns, but the medium nuns have chosen to align themselves with nice Mother Theresa and by association behave in an appropriately nice way. The caveat is of course that there could be dogs-breath rotten nuns, but this only reinforces the fact that they fall into the crap people category because they are pretending to be medium nuns (who by association with Mother Theresa are supposed to be nice).
You might be getting muddled at this point, but that’s ok, just read through the essay twice more and it’ll start to make sense. And don’t worry, if you aren’t clever – it certainly doesn’t mean you aren’t nice. People can be nice and clever or nice and stupid – the latter being a far preferable combination than crap and stupid.
Can nice people become crap and vice versa? Absolutely not; it’s only possible for medium people to change. Certainly circumstances can make nice people do crap things, but that doesn’t mean they are crap. Think of Liam Neeson in Taken. He wouldn’t have maimed several crap criminals if they hadn’t nicked his kid to sell in a seedy, child sex ring. That is a crap thing to do to a nice person. Point is, Liam staid nice, which you can see in the respectful way he treats his ex-wife, but he was forced to do crap stuff. Samies with crap people. Gollum in Lord of the rings was a crap hobbit and he became an even crapier grey dude who stole magic jewellery.
But back to medium people. I’m a medium person. That’s to say, naturally I never wanted to pick on the kid with the red hair at school, but, nor did I want to befriend that freckly Jinge either. But say the first friend I made at school was the science monitor whose best friend was The Jinge . The association of my friendship with the science monitor rendered any notion of tying The Jinge’s shoelaces together so he fell over onto the Bunsen burner and caught alight, moot. But say I later made first team chess and The Jinge was my arch nemesis- I’d only ever beat him four out of ten times. It’s quite possible I might find myself sledging him in the school showers alongside Gary Pearson, the average but good looking chess player who all the drum majorettes are into. Gary may suggest putting chilli into The Jinge’s underpants or spreading his school sandwich with dog shit and I may just go along with it. But see, it wouldn’t be because I’m crap; no Gary is crap- he came up with that stuff – I’m just a medium person who is crap by association. Only crap people come up with really crap things, medium people just go along with them.
It’s a fallacy to think that people who are victims of other people’s crapiness are nice – I want to clear that up right now. It may be controversial to say, but it’s just possible that Jennifer Aniston might be crap and Angelina Jolie might be the nice one. Have you ever considered that? Ask yourself: has Jen been on any trips to smelly African villages to pick herself up a few hungry kids? Well, no. Her acting roles as cute, slightly neurotic yet emotionally intelligent women with orange tans and cheerleader smiles have been waaayyy more important than saving fly infested refugees in war battered countries. Yet it’s Ang who is seen as the black widow, encircling her emaciated spider legs around the absolutely blameless Brad and enchanting him with her googly eyes and airbag lips. Don’t be fooled. Just because bad things happen to people it doesn’t mean they’re nice. It’s just as much a possibility that bad things happen to people because they are crap.
Which closes things off quite neatly. People spend so much time going to shrinks to work out if they are nice, medium or crap and discussing all the nice and crap things that have happened to them. But if you can work out which of these three simple categories you fall into, half the battle is won. If you are crap, you aren’t ever going to be able to be nice, no, but you’ll at least know what you are. Now it’s just a case of saving on doctors and lawyers bills by toning that shit down. Seriously, you may be crap, but we still have to live with you, so you need to learn to control yourself. If you are a medium person, then it’s just a matter of choosing your camp- no point in trying to be nice or crap- it’ll never happen. And if you’re nice, well good for you. But remember there are as many crap people in the world and nice ones. It’s your duty to protect yourself from them – we don’t need your endless sob stories about how crap people were to you. Honestly, it gets boring. And nice, medium or crap, no one wants to be bored, people. And that is an elixir of truth worth swallowing.