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You Only Get One Question


by Gita M. Smith


         I met her husband in a greasy coffee shop on the run-down side of town -- his choice.  I suppose he thought the locale fit my role. I had been sleeping with his wife, after all. That made me trash.

          He was a middle-aged tugboat carrying 400 pounds on swollen ankles. He'd come with a bad attitude. The husbands always do. They never consider why their wives go looking elsewhere for pleasure. Or maybe they do consider, but the only answer they can sit with is: Some bad influence (me) is to blame for their darling Dottie or sweet Sally-Jo going astray.

          “Jesus, how old are you anyway?” he asked.

          “That's a boring question,” I said. “Of all the things you could ask at a time like this, you want a number?”

          He dumped five sugar packets into some oily-looking coffee while I marvelled at his eyes: they were kidney beans wrapped in dough.

          “I mean, if you want to talk numbers, how much do you weigh?” I asked him back. “That could figure into this, you know.”

          “Listen, you,” he snarled. “Who the fuck do you think you are?

          “Sorry pal,” I said, “you only get one question here at the Exit Interview Corral. The answer is 22.  And now, if you'll excuse me, there's a circuit court clerk waiting for me at the Marriott Courtyard. She bought herself some sexy new underwear online, and it would be rude to keep her waiting. Rude is what cost her husband his bed privileges.”

          It was true, I thought, steering my Camaro onto the bypass. Marriage has a fatal flaw. I wouldn't go so far as to say familiarity breeds contempt. But that kind of rude indifference, of taking the wife for granted, can feel like contempt. After years go by with no touching, the little gal feels bad about herself. Then,   I come along, tell her she's desirable, tell her things I'm going to do to her, feed her need until all she can think about is me. Before she knows it, she's renting motel rooms for us to sneak away. She feels so alive that she's practically vibrating, like a high-school girl right before a date with the town bad boy.         Her fat fuck of a husband who left her untouched for four years while he watched televised football with Sara Lee in his lap has no call blaming me. 

          I was playing World of Warcraft (Rise of the Zandalari) the first time my phone rang for an exit interview. Some shitbird of a lawyer found my number behind the visor of his old lady's Lexus and got curious. He demanded a meet-up: Saturday morning, Eastdale Country Club, he'd give up his second nine holes just to see me. Ooooo, lucky me!

          That's the thing, see. The husbands come to the meet all bowed up for a bush-pissing contest between two dogs.  But I show up in full androgyny theater:  black leather,  high-heeled boots, eyeliner, cubic Z earring. The guys get massively confused. Shitbird's eyes almost crossed when he saw me. I could see the word bubble over his head. Boy? Girl? He was trying to put his cookies-and-cream Mary-Lou together with me, but he couldn't figure me for the top or the bottom. 
      I learned something that day: lawyers are no better than anyone else at asking the right first question. His was, “What the hell was your number doing in my wife's car?” 

          “She must have put it there.”

          And then I was gone. I look at it this way. If the guy wants information, if he wants to fix things between him and the wife, he should be asking her. Not me. And if he's asking his wife the questions, there's only one relevant question to ask. Not, “who's this guy?” Or “how long has this been going on?”

The only question that matters, the only one she wants to hear is, “How can I make you happy?”

 

 

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