A sordid affair is the only kind worth having. Open the app, swipe to the right, ask a stranger if they want to see you naked. Take everyone, anyone, and make them yours. That’s how it’s done.
Don’t play innocent. This is not a rebuke. You are natural, au natural, unshaven, ungroomed, sparking with static in the winter months when you pull your sweater off your head. Your breath is tight in your chest, but that’s not the guilt. It’s just asthma. You smoke too much.
Drive down Lake Shore Drive in the little car you bought yourself with the last four semi-decent paychecks you got from work. Look at those waves. Remember, it’s not an ocean, even if it looks like it. Some of it froze this winter, and you remembered the times your father took you there to skate. He should have become less terrifying as the years wore on, but you fear him more than ever. He holds the bank accounts, he decides your future, he approves or disapproves.
It’s not your mother’s fault. Not entirely. Still, when she gets drunk every year on her birthday, she ends up crying over the toilet while you hold back her hair. She apologizes in between heaves for ever marrying such a monster. You don’t say anything. There’s nothing to say to a mother who says she’s sorry she met the man with whom she created you.
Your own marriage is failing too, but at least there aren’t any kids. You know your spouse is sleeping around. People from the office, people from the internet, people who you never would consider people until they cropped up on your significant other’s text list. In other words, lowlifes. You stopped judging months ago. Everyone is lonely, you suppose.
So have that affair. Just choose someone, anyone, and go to their apartment. Cry in their bed. Ask them to hold you. Ask them to make you a milkshake at three in the morning, and then dump it on them when you’re sick of all that ice-cream not coming through the straw. Just like the good old days, when you and your spouse didn’t worry so much about the bills.
Times are hard, now. Everyone says so. Don’t feel bad. You’ll feel better in the morning. Look up the definition of your feelings on Urban Dictionary. It’s sure to make you smile, sardonically at least.
You’re catering to no one, don’t you see? You can keep driving that car up and down forever, but it won’t get you anywhere. Eventually, you’ll have to stop to fill up for gas. It won’t be pretty, especially once your credit card is denied. Maybe you’ll get lucky, maybe you’ll get to keep the apartment.
Probably not. Your spouse has the better job. More money. A better lawyer, when it comes to that. Here’s what you should do. Make a mark on the back of your hand with a Sharpie of every day that passes and you’ll find out when your spouse serves you how many days you stayed married since you found out.
You could do the confrontation thing. Weep, hold each other, go to bed one more time for some limp and half-sincere love-making. But you won’t. Because that would mean admitting you’re unhappy. The only way you know how to get through the day is by being chipper. Sincere. Cheerful. Positively Tweety-Bird-like. Yellow and fluffy. That’s you all over.
Inside, you’re an old Indian burial ground the city is threatening to build a parking lot over. Except that you have no fight. You’ll lie there and take it. Maybe a few angry ghosts will rise up. But you don’t really believe in the supernatural.
When it finally does happen, you can just hear your father on the phone. He won’t say anything. He’ll just breathe, through his nose, right into the receiver. He’ll snuffle like a boar and you’ll be so disappointed in yourself. He’ll really bring home to you the essence of your failure.
Your mother, on the other hand, will just say she always knew it would happen. Then she’ll offer to set you up with her best friend’s kid again.