Mile-High Confessions: He is Married With a Mistress
I am frequently mistaken for a priest.
People confess things to me. I don't ask them to tell me their secrets, but I must have a non-judgmental face because in under five minutes flat the gentleman in seat 2C on my flight from Denver to L.A. confessed he had a Catholic wife, two sons in Brea, California and a mistress in Schenectady:
Image: Shannon C. via The Woman Formerly Known As Beautiful
(I told you. Just like a priest. You want to tell me your secrets, but I don't want to hear them! I don't want to know if you're dating a married man. I'm not listening!)
I blame it all on the tornado. If it hadn't been for the damned tornado, my seat mate might not have confessed.
Let me set the scene:
I was sitting in a wine and cheese bar at Denver International airport when a booming voice shouted over the P.A. "There's a fucking tornado coming this way! Everyone get to the shitter!" (or something very similar to that)
Instead, I, and some other blonde woman with four kids back in Kansas, got mildly tanked and ate enough Muenster to empty Wisconsin. Apparently the tornado missed the airport, so I was able to weave my way onto my flight a mere hour and a half late.
Just after boarding, as my airplane was taxi-ing to the runway under the onslaught of what appeared to be hailing locusts preceding the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the same fucking scary booming voice came on over the P.A. in the plane. It was like this guy was the omniscient God from the Old Testament, all pissed off, vengeful and everywhere.
"Denver International Airport is now shut down!" he bellowed. Why? I wondered. Did the tornado still have us in its crosshairs? Was this to be my last day on earth?
This is when I struck up a conversation with the gentleman seated on my right, cheating death by ignoring it.
The gentleman, whom we will henceforth refer to as "Francois", looked just like my Uncle Teddy: tanned, a balding pate, and a Cheshire cat grin, which made me immediately distrust him. (My uncle Teddy had done a little time in a British gaol due to some questionable import/exporting.)
But as Francois and I chatted, I was impressed to discover his expertise in his field, which I'm not at liberty to discuss as he might have to kill me. Then he asked what I do for a living.
"I'm a blogger," I said, feeling under-qualified for this conversation considering his high-level security clearance (which I can't talk about unless I want to wake up being smothered with my own pillow by a Ninja in black face).
"What do you write about?" Francois asked.
"Mostly about parenting, but also about body image, beauty and, strangely, married sex."
Suddenly his eyes took on a mischievous glint, I believe brought on by our imminent tornado-related deaths and my married sex column, and he blurted, "I have a girlfriend."
I glanced at the gold wedding band on his finger, momentarily befuddled, because this admission happened so abruptly lacking, what seemed to me, any discernible foreshadowing.
As is common with me, my anthropological curiosity got the better of me. "And you're still married?" I asked. Francois grinned with naughty delight and just like that, I was complicit in this perfect stranger's duplicitous life. We were briefly distracted as pilot informed us we were clear for take-off.
As our plane climbed through the cataclysmic clouds it might have been a good idea for me to dive into some Martha Beck advice in my May copy of O Magazine. Instead, I ordered another glass of red wine from the stewardess, turned to my companion and asked, "Are you in love with your mistress?"
Initially Francois denied being in love with his mistress, whom we shall henceforth (and for obvious reasons) refer to as "Emmanuelle", and told me that if the affair threatened to destroy his marriage (to a wife who cut him off sexually years ago), or the well-being of his two children, then he would end the affair.
Very quickly I smelled a rat.
Francois relished telling me the details of meeting Emmanuelle in a bar in Dubai and, after their affair began, of dining at the next table while she dined with her grown daughter in New York. His enjoyment of their forbidden passion was palpable.
He regaled me with the details of their arrangement-- how often they see each other, the excuses they make to their spouses (she lives separate from hers, according to Francois), and the time they hired a "professional" for a ménage a trois or "the most fun three people have ever had in their lives." I had to wonder about the call girl, as cynicism can run deep in that profession.