“To Quote the Bard…”
Confession: I am having an affair. A nearly overwhelming desire for a breathless whisper brushing my ear. An almost painful stirring within as I listen. A desperate anticipation for our next meeting. Oh, yes. Yes. YES! Intoxicating. Maddening. Gut-wrenching, heart-stopping, in-over-my-head, can’t-get-enough, when can I meet you again kind of affair. Concoct a story, speak in ambiguities, wear deception like a second skin. Stolen moments during lunch. A message played again and again to hear the nuances of voice. A few hours on the weekend, when no one else is home. How can I go on like this? But then again, how can I ever do without it, now that I know how powerful such a relationship can be? I’ll be honest. I am madly in love with my husband, but I am completely out of my mind for that whisper in the stillness of the night. This elicit affair of mine? It’s with words – “Words, words words.” (Hamlet wasn’t the only reader…)
In my daily life, I am gloriously married. To an engineer. If ever two were more unequally yoked, I would like to meet them. My husband inhabits a world of calculations and problem-solving. Emotionless, efficient, and unarguably beneficial to society as a whole, and our family in particular. My world is walled with words – I am a reader, a teacher of literature. Emotion-filled, extravagant and arguably superfluous and ancillary to societies the world over, and to some of my favorite people in particular. My engineer husband for instance. Admittedly, our buildings should stand up, our bridges must provide safe passage, and our roads, please God, should be pot-hole free! Engineers are vital to the infrastructure of a nation. The Victorian novels, the Spenserian sonnets, the Greek tragedies? These don’t keep American running – but I find myself running to encounter lines like these: “Where, when as Death shall all the world subdue, / Our love shall live, and later life renew” every chance I get. In my secret life, I am swept up the in declaration that “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” With the turn of a page, I can enter a “secret garden” or talk with Flaubert’s parrot. I am crazy in love with my husband, but the words! I have to have them. Saturday mornings, I slip into something comfortable – the corner of a leather couch – with a cup of coffee and Wally Lamb’s This Much I Know Is True. Late nights, I claim I’ve got a just a bit more work to do, and sneak a quick chapter from Mike Perry’s Population: 485 before sliding silently into bed beside my unsuspecting husband.
Jeff may be the only man living whose wife willingly admits to having an “Imaginary Lover.” The twist is, I am just as crazy about the world of my imagination, ignited by Charles Dickens, Barbara Kingsolver, and Julian Barnes. (And a host of other great wordsmiths. Egad! You couldn’t possibly think I’d be a faithful infidel.)
If a woman has to cheat, at least let her cheat with dead white men, or post-modern geniuses who live in far away places. Make it an “affair to remember.”