I sat at the foot of my bed, bathed in sunshine that now felt ironically cheerful, struggling to make sense of the words “I cheated on her and I’ll do it again.” At the moment, I was still protected by shock. My brain was barely processing, my heart was thumping away, my eyes blinking with confusion. Nothing was working properly. My hands shook as I turned the page of the diary, searching for an explanation. Please, please, let it be a mistake. Let it mean something else. But the diary was unforgiving, it forged on in utter disregard of my pitiful pleas.
The entry was dated two days after I said he could live with me. “I shagged a fat girl. I feel like I cheated on Mary even though I’m not her boyfriend. I feel like I owe her because she’s letting me stay with her and I don’t like it. Don’t really know why I cheated…” The entry rambled on; the word vomit of a 19-year old boy that made my last hand-written diary (composed at age 14 with the working title: “I’m Obsessed with Gabe P. and I Wish My Boobs Were Bigger”) look like a literary masterpiece. In capital letters at the bottom of the page, a summation of sorts, he had scrawled “FEEL GUILTY I SHAGGED FAT GIRL. REALLY LIKE MARY.”
My initial reaction was instinctual. I stripped, turned the shower as hot as I could stand, and tried to wash away the disgusting feeling those words gave me. Tried to scrub the smell of their author out of my hair. Hoped to scald the memory of his touch from my skin. Lathering my body with “calming lavender clear body wash” I felt anything but calm. Denial was washing away and second stage of grief: anger, was taking over. How could he do this to me? I let him live in my apartment, refused to take money for rent, and this is the thanks I get? And with someone he cared so little for he dubbed her “Fat Girl”? (Fortunately for him, he used no such moniker for me, for that reason South Africa has not acquired another eunich…yet..if I find out he gave me an STI I’m flying around the world and ripping his balls off with my bare hands. Just saying.)
I’m too pretty to be cheated on! Too smart! Too funny! Too awesome! I wanted to wail then throw myself on the floor and pound my fists into the ground (and by ground I mean his head). But I’m not four, nor am I nineteen; I’m twenty-four, and with those extra years of maturity, I emerged from the shower and attempted rational thought.
It wasn’t exactly the indiscretion itself that gave me thoughts of mutilating his scrotum. Not that I was thrilled that he’d slept with someone else, but it wasn’t as though we had exchanged vows of fidelity. When I invited him back to my apartment that first night, the thought of exclusivity was far from my mind. The idea didn’t even enter my head until he asked to stay with me. He was the one who asked, I never would have offered. I’m single in Manhattan, if there is one thing this city has taught me it’s that nothing can scare men away like the mention of premature exclusivity. I’ve also learned you can never assume exclusivity. Apparently not even when you’re living together.
I didn’t assume we were exclusive, it was what I was told. “I’m not sleeping with other women.” Bald faced lies to my face. That wasn’t even the worst of it. I studied that diary and came out with a timeline. The major betrayal as I saw it, took place a week after his “Fat Girl shag”. I remembered the day crystal clearly. It was the day we had a “slip up”, the first I’d ever experienced. An “Oh Yes!” moment turned to an “Oh Shit!” one. A situation where your
latex security blanket is…cruely ripped away. A failing of plan A and a trip to Duane Reade need for “Plan B”. (Am I hitting you over the head with my subtlety? Did I lose anyone? I’m really hoping to lose my mom…Mom, stop reading.)
This circumstance lead me to ask questions I would not have other wise asked. Specifically regarding “exual-say istory-hay ” (did I lose anyone? Still really hoping to lose my mom! Mom! Stop!) “When was the last time you were tested?” He supplied a less than satisfactory answer, so I continued, “When was the last time you had sex?” (Mom, if you’re still reading, gosh darn it, I give up! I’ve had sex. There, I admit it! Is that what you wanted to hear? I also would normally say ‘god damn it’. Now you know all my secrets! Happy!?) His answer to this question surprised me and made me feel special, “Not since Rome, about 6 weeks.” In hindsight, I only feel stupid. He flat-out lied to my face, putting my sexual health- and he knew how serious this was to me- at risk. Cheating I could forgive. This? This I could not. “I didn’t want to hurt you.” he would later say. Oh really? That’s ironic. And I’m sure the fact I might’ve refused to let you stay with me was not a factor in the least! I would say sarcastically, resorting to the lowest form of wit.
I carefully crafted the text message: I read your diary. You knew I would. I’m not mad you slept with someone else, you could argue we weren’t exclusive. I am mad because you lied to me and put my health at risk. Which shows you don’t give a shit about me. You’re not an asshole, you’re a coward.
I have a theory men like being called ‘assholes’. It makes them feel like men. “Women love a bad guy, an asshole,” they think. Thus ‘asshole’ has acquired some positive connotations. ‘Coward’ has none. No one loves a coward.
I hit the SEND button. SENT. There was no going back. Confrontation. I wondered how he would reply. Not that it mattered. I knew exactly what I was going to do next. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
to be continued…
Author’s note: So much for wrapping it up!
[To continue The Safa Boy Series, click for Part Six]