Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fidelity

In this age of cell phone hook-ups, easy divorces and all the rest of the nonsense that swirls around it seems as though good ol' fashioned "Don't Cheat On Your Wife" has kind of fallen by the wayside. I can name five or six friends of mine who ended marriages while still in their twenties because one or both of them just decided they were more interested in sleeping with other people.

Thank God I don't run into opportunities more often than I do. (Really, it's surprising that a handsome devil like myself doesn't get hit on more often, but the appeal of a bearded guy in a van is one of those off-the-beaten-path kind of tastes I guess.) Now when I say opportunities don't take that to mean that I'm walking around looking for them. Every once in a great while though I'm startled to find myself across from some girl making eyes at me.

It happened the other day at work when I ran into a girl that I haven't seen in close to ten years. The last time I saw her was right before she got married and moved to another state. As we passed there was that brief flicker of recognition and then we both turned around and said the other's name with a question mark. A brief hug and we dove into the where-you-been exchange that attempts to cover a decade in a few words.

The next part involves my mental process and it transpired in milliseconds so I'll break it down on a time line. She made the eyes at me and suggested that I give her a call some time so we could "catch up". Start the clock:

0.001 - Yeah right when am I ever going to find time to get caught up. I don't really have time to be standing here right n-

0.013 - Holy CRAP!

0.014 - She wants me to come over and make out like we're still in high school!

0.019 - BRAWWWWWNK! BRAWWWWWNK! ALERT! ALERT!

0.021 - FULL SYSTEM SHUTDOWN ENGAGE! RE-ROUTE BLOOD FLOW FROM NETHER REGIONS TO BRAIN!

0.025 - ENGAGE RAPID EXPOSITORY SYTEM!

0.033 - RUNNING TACTFUL RESPONSE ROUTINES!

0.037 - BREVITY CHECK COMPLETE! ENGAGE VERBAL SYSTEM!

0.040 - MOUTH OPENS - "Wellllll, I'd love to grab a beer some time but between the hospital and the kids I'm keepin' pretty busy these days"

Then I watched her go through some millisecond processing that appeared to involve some letdown and the failed booty call, then recognition that being disappointed at my marriage and offspring was not the correct response and an attempt at a smile.

"Yeah, I married The Missus (who she knew from our school days as well) and we've got three and a fourth on the way."

That got the train back on the proper tracks and the usual small talk ensued. I went away shaking and spent the rest of the afternoon beating my brain back into shape. I walk around day after day not thinking the slightest thought about stepping out on my girl. I've wanted to be married for so long and have held the institution in such high regard that the thought of kissing on somebody else isn't even one that ever floats to the surface. Especially when that is the reason for the demise of so many marriages around me.

The reason I was shaking was that in that time period between 14 and 19 milliseconds a part of my brain that has been dormant since my college days very nearly came on line. What eventually got me feeling all right again was the fact that it didn't have a chance. I cheated on every girlfriend I ever had until I found The Missus. Through my faith and God's blessing of our union that part of me has atrophied from lack of use. It's like nipples on male mammals, or an appendix. It serves no use.

By the time I got home and told The Missus I was feeling somewhat encouraged. If the automatic response to that situation could be so easy then there's hope for a lot of other problem areas. Someday I won't have to force myself to be patient with the Short People. Someday I won't have to strain to be organized. Someday keeping my foul mouth in check won't take conscious effort.

I hope.

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5 comments:

Gary Wood said...

Great story.
I've been married 22 years and God has been very gracious to me by his help in similar situations. Greater spiritual men than me have fallen.

ChurchPunkMom said...

Good on you, friend. Keep it up. :)

Daniels5 said...

thanks for some male insight. I've often wondered what goes through the mind of a "non" cheating husband when faced with the opportunity.

Pamela said...

And really? It's not because he was afraid I'd kill him or anything. He's just that kind of guy. Lucky moi.

Irish Gumbo said...

It is a sign of being human that we cannot escape our animal nature.

The test is whether or not we tame the beast, and I think you got it on a leash.

I bow to you, good sir! And way to tell the story! "Running tactful response routines!" - that's brilliant!

Hmm. A good thief tips his hat, I've heard, so my hat's off to you, I'll try to make it not so obvious...