An Unwise Choice

There wasn’t a knock on the door or a phone call. Hell, there wasn’t even a missed text message. Terry just stormed into the house with foggy eyes and a slimy grin. Kevin couldn’t have been sure without an explanation, but he knew immediately that there was probably something wrong.

“So I decided to do it.” Terry announced as plainly as anyone might have if they thought their friend knew what was supposed to have happened. Kevin, unfortunately, had no clue. Still – he pretended to go along with it.

“Did you? How long were you waiting to do it again?” Faked enthusiasm poured out of his mouth easily enough. He’d never been the type to lie but Kevin was known to be forgetful at times. Over the last few months his life changed quite dramatically as his marriage opened, and they shared this choice with their closest friends and family. This decision had been discreet and freeing, but they knew not everyone would support the change.

Terry had been one of the only friends that actually encouraged Kevin as he hesitantly prepared for his first date a few weeks back. In hindsight, perhaps this should have been a warning sign. At the time it had not raised any red flags, and it might not have ever done so if that day Terry hadn’t been so very transparent.

“I slept with Karen. We have been dancing around it for years but we finally took the dive. Man, let me tell you, it was worth it.” This man even had the audacity to laugh with sincerity. As far as Kevin knew, Terry’s wife thought Julie was – bonkers, he recalled, was the word. It was not even close to possible that Terry had been given permission to sleep with someone else.

For as close of friends as they managed to be, Kevin could not remember whose face belonged to the name ‘Karen’ in Terry’s life. Close as they were, most of their friendship was reliably casual. They both enjoyed bar hopping on holiday weekends, and touring tri-county food festivals three seasons of the year. Feeling as though he didn’t have enough information to really question Terry further about this action he’s taken, Kevin merely stalls. Part of him hadn’t been completely sure that this admission was even real; “Karen, did I hear she dyed her hair? Maybe it wasn’t her…”

Terry confirmed very quickly that she had trimmed it and darkened it a bit. After surpassing shear amazement at being right with his vague inquisition, Kevin found himself buried in a five-minute long bragging session. Karen looks so young! Someone mistook her for a twenty-something the other day! She’s gotten her body back into shape and is so stunning! Everyone is taking a peak at her when she walks by! Meanwhile, Kevin filled in the tiny breaths Terry managed to draw with double-time effort put into recalling who Karen actually was and if he’d ever met her in person.

“You think you guys will hook up again?” Stopping the dialogue made little sense with Terry being so frank. By not interrupting the conversation to forcefully interrogate his friend about his marriage the conversation naturally provided answers. As it turns out Karen lives in the home directly behind him behind him. For this reason he is sure that if he wished to sleep with her again there would be no issues in having it arranged. He did briefly whine about work schedules that conflicted, and also about Karen’s husband. Apparently he’d only supported an open marriage if he didn’t see it or know it had happened at all.

By that time, which seemed to have taken both forever and no time at all, it felt totally organic to bring up what had pressing him since the beginning, “What does Caidy think about it? Does she want you to stay out of the house too?” Unsure what he may have expected, Kevin had no reaction that he felt was appropriate for what his friend did. Terry had blown out a hearty laugh…

Like sleeping with other people was a joke his wife couldn’t understand…

“What Caidy doesn’t know doesn’t hurt her, right?” Terry snatched a beer from the refrigerator. Once replaced on his stool he jabbered on about the ins-and-outs of being married for so long to a woman only interested in monogamy. Complaints spewed minute after minute about how not all wives were “progressive like Julie” and accepting of their male partners’ needs to explore other options. The way he spoke disgusted Kevin to the point of physical illness. He pushed aside his own drink and shook his head with fury.

It was misogynistic at best the way Terry discussed his affair. Each recount of his exploit with Karen, a mere neighborhood friend, reflected deep conflict within his marriage. Each excuse consisted of statements blaming his wife for his affair: Caidy wouldn’t do all of the things he told her in bed; Caidy refused to do things when he wanted to do them; Caidy didn’t submit to him when he was ready. He cited the biggest motivator as: “that they simply couldn’t be attracted to each other anymore, just the idea of doing it.”

“Caidy is still your wife and you owe her the respect you promised. You’d defied those vows so you now owe her the truth and an apology. Maybe Karen doesn’t have to account for herself but you certainly do!” Kevin wasn’t about to drop the topic like it was coffee conversation before work. There was a difference between two spouses happily agreeing to have an open marriage and one spouse forcing the other to accepting. Both of those scenarios were extremely different from one spouse going behind the other’s back entirely. Only one of those methods was healthy – and Kevin couldn’t help but silently thank his wife for being such a great person so perfectly matched for him in all the ways that mattered.

It wasn’t even that he thought Terry had done anything wrong. Who was Kevin to judge the yearning to sleep with people outside a marriage? He himself had done just that with another woman. Several times no less! Going behind Caidy’s back is the defining factor making what Kevin does so much more acceptable than what Terry had enacted. What Terry had done was an affair. He betrayed the monogamous relationship to which he committed voluntarily. All Kevin could hope for at that point was that maybe Caidy would have an open heart and find a way to let Terry live his life without her own being sabotaged.

Of course, his friend has no intention of doing what was instructed. This was something he intended to keep hidden; “I ain’t telling her a goddamn thing. Caidy would divorce me without letting me explain myself. She doesn’t take any shit.”

The silence between the two that followed confirmed exactly what Kevin wanted to proclaim. Terry heard it in his own words. The fact that he realized that what he’d done would mess his entire life up – there was nothing more to be said. Well, there should have been nothing more to say, anyway. Kevin managed to let out a deflated cough just before Terry decided to shout in pure rage.

“WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU TO TELL ME HOW TO BE MARRIED? YOU ARE SLEEPING WITH SOME YOUNG BITCH YOU WORK WITH EVERY DAY! YOU THINK YOU’RE JUST FUCKING HER BUT YOU’RE JUST LYING TO JULIE! YOU’RE MAKING A FOOL OF YOURSELF!”

Before long Julie stumbled down the stairs with dark eyes and crooked pants. As she asked what all the raucous Terry met her in the doorway. Angrily he actually spat at her feet and insulted her for thinking her husband loved her in anyway. With raised brows she simply waved him out the door, not even bothering to ask what transpired or why. All that fantastic woman did was kiss her husband’s cheek and suggest, “I suppose you have a call to make?”

Kevin didn’t know if it was call to make because it wasn’t his mistake to apologize for, but he supposed that someone would have to tell the truth. Especially if Terry firmly believed that lying was the “respectable” thing to do…

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