If a guy told you his grown children have refused to speak to him for 20 years, or that the wife he divorced was as silent as their kids, wouldn't your first question be: Another woman?
No? Then, obviously you are not as nosy as I, or not the investigator-reporter type.
My query occurred during a JDate phone conversation. (I realize that on these pages I claimed I was dropping the Jewish online dating site, but I decided to give it one more month.) He -- let's now call him by a new screen name, Offended2013, had given me his phone number and recommended that I block my own cell number. This was a point in his favor, I thought, a gentlemen.
According to my iPhone, we talked for 58 minutes. During that time I learned we had some things in common: we both lived in the city, were around the same age (he claimed 71; I fudged 70), we enjoyed plays, and had Spain and Greece on our travel wish list. Our differences -- he was not a TV addict like I am, he liked being out frequently in the evenings -- might've been possible for me to overcome.
Before our conversation ended, we made plans to meet for coffee. But the following morning, I received this message from Offended2013, i am cancelling our meeting wed . i really was hurt and offended by your quick remark about my devorce having to do with another woman .i felt you were out of line. that was not the case . i just didnt appreciate it . that is far from the type of person i am .
"I apologize," I wrote in a message back to him. "It's your call. Good luck with your search." But he blocked any further correspondence from me, so my attempt to backpedal is floating somewhere in cyberspace.
Daughter Faith (yes, I had to share), responded, "I am offended he does not know how to spell divorce." From her sister, Jill, "The atrocious spelling is enough for you to block him forever."
Perhaps it was wrong of me to jump to the conclusion I conjured, but I speak from experience; my first husband of 30 years left me for another woman. Our clichéd drama began when I noticed he was looking exceptionally fit and well dressed. "I think he's having an affair," I said to my best friend, Judy.
"Don't ask him if he's having an affair," she said. "Just say, I know you're having an affair."
I'll never forget that 1990 prophetic conversation, which was held during one of our regular Saturday lunches at the Bon Ton restaurant on Chicago's Gold Coast. As Judy and I munched our poached chicken sandwiches, we kept our voices low because adjacent diners seemed to be leaning our way.
A few days after my friend's counsel, I put the phrase to use. I had been asleep in our king-sized bed when the phone rang. Because my husband's profession often brought emergency requests, I knew the call would be for him. "The phone's ringing," I said, as I rolled over to rouse him. But, there was an empty space where he usually slept.
I went downstairs, dumped myself on the couch, and waited. "What are you doing up?" he asked as he entered through the back door. He appeared to be playing a soap opera part. If he hadn't spotted me, he surely would've been toting his Oxfords and tiptoeing in on stocking feet.
Then came my line, "I know you're having an affair."
"How did you know?"
"Your new clothes, your slimmer body, your indifference to me and the kids."
He sunk down next to me on the couch. We both cried. (What can I say? I'm not the pottery slinging type and I held some responsibility for a marriage gone sour.) "Will you come with to a marriage counselor?" I asked.
We had one session. The morning after, he descended the stairs with a gym bag in his hand. "I'm checking into a hotel; I'll call you later." He was glum; I was, I must admit, relieved, and grateful to the other woman for handing him the bad guy role and me the sympathetic character.
Fortunately, in our intervening 23 years, my ex and I have remained good friends. He is my emergency contact and I am his companion for doctor visits.
So, with this history, I stand firm in defense of my question. Now I think Offended2013 doth protest too much. If not another woman, what then?