didn’t think i had it in me

January 10, 2008

“You’re the one I want to cheat with,” I said. The kitchen in my apartment, with the five o’clock not-quite-light barely peeking through the blinds, was the perfect setting for this pronouncement.

“Okay,” Mike said. “But let’s do it later. I’m asleep.”

“How long do you plan on being asleep? This is kind of a big deal,” I said.

“I know.” Mike was quiet and I thought if he had fallen asleep, I would take it back. He doesn’t deserve to be my kept man if he had fallen asleep. “Just a few more hours.”

“You don’t sound very excited by this,” I said, leaning against the counter sprinkled with powdered sugar from one of my boyfriend’s late-night donut binges. Some sugar was on the arm of my sweatshirt, but I didn’t wipe it off.

“I’m very excited.”

The idea of cheating was something I thought about for weeks and weeks. My boyfriend, the donut-binger, was great. He surprised me with flowers or tickets to plays. He pretended to like the horrible reality TV shows I’m fascinated by. When my car sputtered on the way home, he automatically popped the hood as soon as I parked to figure out the problem. “We don’t want you blowing up any time soon, do we?” he said.

But we were different. Not exactly opposites, just different. He didn’t take me or the things I wanted to do with my life seriously. When I told him I wanted a family someday, he said, “My aunt wanted kids too, but she found out she was infertile.” After that, he patted my leg and went to the kitchen to make himself a vodka tonic.

And the sex is strange. When we have sex, he likes to say things like, “You’re my little whore, aren’t you?” and “Fuck me, you slut,” but he gets upset if I try to return the dirty talk. He wants it the way he wants it, and that’s the name of that tune. I’m pretty sure he’s thinking of someone else the whole time anyway.

So I thought about cheating, for once doing something the way I wanted to. I thought and thought, and ultimately I decided — no, I knew — that I wouldn’t feel bad about doing it with Mike. He had been my friend since college. We each always had significant others, but there was an unspoken understanding that if the planets aligned correctly and a solar eclipse occurred, we would be together in a second.

Mike was single after a two-year relationship. He ended it, not the ex, so I knew he was ready to get on with his life. I had told him that I was thinking of cheating, possibly with him, and he had said, “Do you really have to think?”

“Hey, you there?” Mike said. I started to feel bad for waking him up. Starbucks wasn’t even open yet. Mike, the coffee-lover, would have to choke down a gas station coffee at this hour if I made him get up.

“Yeah, I am. But you can go back to sleep.”

“I’ll call you later.”

“Bye, Mike,” I said. I pressed my finger against the powdered sugar on the counter and licked it off. It was sweet. This was going to be good.

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