Thursday, March 17, 2005

Why yes, I AM that vampy -- NOT!

Dear Jane,

But it is an idealized image of what comes to women's minds when they think of the term "The Other Woman." The vamp in the negligee, right? The feral vixen out to steal your man. I know that's what came to my mind when I suspected my ex (boyfriend? husband? Only The Shadow Knows) was cheating on me. The surprising thing to me was to find out she was just a regular person, like little ole me, albeit with less style. Relaxed-fit Gap Jeans and granny boots. I don't know what was more insulting, that he would cheat on me with anyone, or that he would cheat on me with someone with no style.

I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no taste.

No, Jane, I think you would probably be surprised if you saw me. You see, I've sat in your husband's office, I've sat at his desk with my feet up, and in that place I can't escape the ineluctable fact of you. You're very, very pretty, you know. Prettier than I am, from a purely empirical point of view -- that is, if one can possibly be empirical about the arrangement of another person's facial features. In the genetic blackjack game, you come up 21 every time. (Although your nose does look just a little bit....done. *meow* Where I come from, we call it The Five Towns Nose.)

I, on the other hand, well, appearance-wise, I'm holding 12 and trying to decide whether to hit. My looks are what you would call unconventional. Where I grew up, where a mass-market brand of bland American prettiness was queen, I stood out like a raisin on a coconut cake. I'm what you would call an acquired taste. The ex used to call my look "dynamic." A fey young Syrian boy once told me I look like an Iranian princess. Some days I look and feel like an unmade bed. When I really make an effort, I do have the ability to fool everyone into thinking that I'm the best-looking woman in the room.

You have the sleek, well-groomed look of a woman who gets regular manicures, has her hair styled in the "best" salon, and who takes classes in whatever exercise craze is currently in vogue many times a week. My guess is that right now you are taking yoga or Pilates classes. I already know that you go regularly to a tony downtown spa. Your husband told me. (That's why part of his Christmas present to me was a day of beauty at an altogether different spa in an altogether different part of town.) It's clear that you take very good care of yourself.

I, well, I love a great glass of wine, a big hunk of red meat, watching the Yankees in bars, smoking cigarettes, and I don't exercise when the weather is bad. I'm bone lazy that way. When I do feel inspired to exercise, I'll go to a crummy city-run gym and throw around dirty free weights with the ex-cons. Come springtime, my idea of fun will be to jump on my bike and ride 40 miles -- and that's before lunch. I have broken more fingernails changing bicycle tubes than I can count. The nail on my right thumb will never be the same after one particularly recalcitrant rim wouldn't give up its flaccid rubbery prisoner. Oh, well.

I am decidedly NOT thin.

It doesn't seem to matter to your husband.

So I sit in his office, and I notice the pictures that are there. I notice when they change, I notice when they are updated. And when, shortly after he and I began sleeping together, I noticed a new photo of him and you, with your children between you, I saw that it was really a picture of you and your children, and he looked sort of stuck into the back of the image, like one of those bad Weekly World News photoshop jobs.

If you believe a picture is worth a thousand words, I think this one says volumes. I believe that on rare occasions, a photograph will capture something in someone's eyes, a passing thought that registers as a nearly-imperceptible change in expression. The ex and I were at a friend's wedding, during the period when we were breaking up but hadn't yet made the final cut, and he snapped a photo of me. When you first look at the photograph, it seems normal enough -- I'm smiling brightly into the camera and holding a glass of wine. But look a little closer, and you can see so much sadness in my eyes.

Anyhow, I digress. Your husband is smiling in the photo on his desk, but even his assistant pointed out to me that he looks sheepish and uncomfortable.

I've assigned a caption for that photo. I call it: The Perfect Imitation of a Happy Family.


Post a Comment

<< Home