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An affair in the making


Man and woman starting an affair

Casual business lunch, or something more?

 

This past week was my birthday. Well, ok, not the ENTIRE week, but one day out of it 🙂

My husband and I went for lunch at a swanky sushi bar downtown where the tables are packed in together like sardines (I am not sure why the swankier the spot, the more crammed the patrons need to be, but that is not for discussion here). The people to our right and left were so close to us, that we might as well be seated at the same table. In fact, had I extended either arm straight out to the side, chances are I would have been inappropriate.

As we sat together, we became aware of a couple to my right (his left) who were dining together. Both were of average height with slim builds. He was dark haired with brown eyes and she was blonde with green eyes. She was facing me, so I had a better glimpse of her. She was thin, athletic, lean and tall. She wore 3-inch heels and a grey dress which hugged her curves tightly. Both had on wedding rings, and both were speaking very animatedly about their work, which I gathered must have been in the same industry or even the same office, as they seemed to familiar with each others’ scenarios and key players. Now, I didn’t mean to listen, but really….we were sitting so close, we may as well have been at the same table, and it was impossible not to catch snippets of their conversation as they lunched.

And then he said it. You know, that one little thing that someone has to say that steers your perception in a totally different direction, and suddenly makes you aware that what you thought was the picture, wasn’t the picture at all? Yes, that thing. He said, ‘My wife doesn’t know how to _______”, and for the life of me, I can’t remember what that something was, but I remember it not being something terribly complex, and the way he said it had an insulting tone to it, as if to say “can you believe it? My wife can’t even ______”. He’d set the stage, he’d put down his wife in front of another woman, and then waited for her to make her move in the game. Would she also admit to not being able to do that thing? Would she normalize that for the husband, making him realize that his wife isn’t the odd one out, and that others also share this inability? Of course not. She immediately leaned in, and started talking about her proficiency in that area, expressing subtle surprise while trying to appear non-judgemental about the fact that his wife now has a one-down.

This, dear readers, was an affair in the making, and we were there to witness it. Two people of the opposite sex, taking time out of their busy downtown jobs in the financial sector to casually have lunch together. Was this a business meeting? Didn’t sound like it. It was far too playful, and a little too personal to be a business lunch. They sat across from one another, playfully talking about their likes, their friends, the activities they like to do in their spare time…it was kind of like speed-dating….except the two of them are married – not to each other.

Several times during the lunch, the man referred to his wife. He would start sentences with “My wife will sometimes….”, and “I told my wife the other day”… Now, to the untrained eye/ear (or to the person who has not been touched by an affair), this might seem like an affair-proofing maneuver to mention the wife often in conversation, but those of us who have been there will know better. He worked his wife into the conversation several times, mentioning her here and there and peppering her name into the topic of the moment. What he was doing, ladies and gentlemen, was testing the waters with the mistress-to-be. He mentions the wife, talks about her, references their activities together like dangling a bait over the mistress head, waiting to see if despite his obvious relationship status which he’s placed out there in the open, whether she will still find the bait attractive and take a nibble. She bit. Despite hearing that he is married, and hearing about the wife, this other woman continued to use body language to signal her interest. She was playing with her hair, touching her neck, talking playfully, and leaning into the table. She would counter everything he would say with some quip of her own, and the two of them agreed with very word the other said. It was like a dance that read like:

Him: I have a wife you know

Her: That sounds great, but are you happy?

Him: I’ve been married for 6 years and we have a two year old son.

Her: I am sure he is adorable, and I can’t wait to meet your son

Him: My wife and I don’t agree about _____

Her: I totally agree with you, you are so right! My feelings on this other matter are ______

Him: I can TOTALLY see why you feel that way, I feel that way too! Look how much we have in common!”

Her: I know, I am a real catch you know, and you’d be so much happier with me

Him: I wish my wife felt that way

Her: Well, we can’t all be perfect like me, you know (squeals of laughter while touching her neck…)

So now she knows he is married, and it doesn’t seem to faze her. He’s put it out there, and she has signalled to him that it doesn’t matter. Mentioning his wife so often in conversation is just a way of saying “hey, let’s be real here. I am married. You know I am married. I am interested in you. We are both going forward here with full knowledge that I am married, and I have no plans to NOT be married or leave my wife, but I am very interested in you, so what do you say?”. When she counters with body language and compliments, she is telling him “look, I know you are married, you’ve mentioned it several times, and yet I am still flirting with you, and signalling to you that you are attractive to me, so obviously your marital status need not play a role in OUR relationship…I’m ok with it”.

We sat there, quietly sharing our thoughts on this conversation. From time to time, I would raise my eyebrows in surprise, and my husband would shake his head. At one point, my husband whispered under his breath “It’s not worth it”. I was so tempted to lean over to the two of them, excuse myself for prying, and then tell them both that it isn’t worth it. The pain that they are going to cause their spouses, their families and HIS child would be enormous. I saw myself tapping him on the shoulder and revealing that my husband had had an affair, and then letting him know to please reconsider. I saw myself doing it, but couldn’t bring myself to actually do it. I can’t save the world, but I did really want to save these two marriages a I bore witness to them on a track to unraveling. “How can I sit here, aware of something that they both are blind to right now since they haven’t seen the ending to this movie, and say/do nothing?”. Let’s face it though, it isn’t my place to approach a random stranger at a restaurant and tell them how to live their life. I just wanted to save someone some pain, but I realize that what is going to happen, is going to happen, and I can only hope that they make the right choices. I also know that while we were sitting there at that restaurant, hundreds of other ‘business lunches’ were going on across the city which weren’t business lunches at all. You can’t save the world.

Never having had an affair, I have to admit that it was interesting to bear witness to the beginning stages of an illicit relationship, to watch the flirtation, and to see the game being played. It is only with these experienced eyes that I am able to decode the true intention behind the behaviours that we witnessed at the table that day. Three years ago, I would have assumed they were on a business date, and thought of how wonderful it is that they get along so well, and seem to have a great working relationship. I am no longer naive. Now, I just know that he wants to get a little on the side, and hopes that his wife won’t ever find out, and that she will be up for it. I hope his wife is strong enough to handle the pain that is coming her way. She’ll need all the strength she can muster. I also hope the woman doesn’t end up getting attached and falling in love with him, thereby turning into a psycho when the man tells her he has no intention of leaving his family…cause that can happen you know.

 

 

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