Thoughts from "The Other Woman"

My friend Janna and I were reminiscing about what we called “the good old days” over lunch last week. That’s what we call the time when she and I were married. Oh, not to each other, of course! We both had husbands, about the same age, about the same economic level, they were our college sweethearts, we were all college friends, that sort of thing. It was the start of “and they lived happily ever after.”

What we aren’t sure of is what went wrong. I mean, we’re both divorced, having lost our husbands to younger, prettier, perkier women. “Bimboettes” is the word Janna uses. From all appearances, our exes are happy as little pigs in clover. Janna and I should be, too, but somewhere in the journey between divorce and happiness, we took a couple wrong turns.

If it weren’t so damned emotionally draining, our walk along life’s crooked roads could almost be amusing. But, so far, we find ourselves crying a few more tears than we’d like to, and cursing our luck (or is it lack of luck?) in our choice of suitable male companions.

You see, Janna and I have fallen into the role of “other woman.” Not because there were no other men who wanted to date us. Not because we wanted to break up marriages as ours had been broken. Us as “bimboettes” is laughable! We’re middle-aged, already!

And, yet, here we are, two divorced women who spend time together comparing our lovers’ latest excuses instead of regaling each other with tales of getaways and vacations for two at far away romantic places. We’re pretty much past believing that we’ll ever spend extended periods of time with the men we love because they can’t tear themselves away from their wives. And yet we wait for the impossible to happen, the phone call, the knock on the door, his happy face as he tells us it’s our turn, she’s agreed to a divorce.

Why should she? If she’s got any brains at all she won’t want to be out here with the rest of us. No, if she has any brains at all, she’ll bide her time. And if we had any brains at all, we’d dump the cheats and make some room in our hearts for the proverbial “good guy” who’s just waiting to sweep us off to paradise.

Yeah, right! He lives with Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Sorry, we quit believing in good guys and white horses a long time ago. Maybe that’s why we take the little bit of affection we get from our married men and hold tight to the thought when it’s the middle of the night and we’re alone.

Janna got involved with Stan just after her husband divorced her. It was a big emotional low point for her and I wasn’t much help, after all, Charlie was acting funny and it was all I could do to keep tabs on our life at the time. Maybe if I’d been there for her, maybe she would have poured her troubles out to me instead of him, maybe she wouldn’t have been so easily led to believe that he understood perfectly what she was going through because he had the same problems with a wife who just didn’t understand, who just couldn’t provide the emotional support a sensitive guy like him needed. By the time she came up for air, he had set the hook and reeled her in like a trophy sailfish.

We lost contact briefly as I fought my indignation over her new life role as “the other woman.” When we did get together, I had a difficult time being objective, seeing her as the friend I used to enjoy being around. I’m afraid I found myself labeling her with some very unpleasant names.

But, you see, by this time, Charlie had moved in with his perky little girlfriend — the “other woman” in our marriage. I had my hands full trying to deal with my life as it crumbled around me. How could I possibly be objective about Janna’s less than perfect life? Particularly when she was busy doing to some other wife the same thing Charlie’s new love was doing to me!

Divorce does things to otherwise sane and rational human beings. I think I survived, but I’ll know in about twenty years, if I live that long. In the meantime, Janna and I have reconciled, returning to “best friends” status. Was it because she didn’t judge me when I told her about Todd?

Ah, Todd…. Smooth talkin’ and fast walkin’ I think might be a good description. The kind of guy who knows the right words at the right time, aided with one perfect rose (the kind of touch Charlie never thought appropriate for romancing me, but apparently finds useful with his current girlfriend) and a bottle of “our” favorite wine nicely chilled.

That it was necessary for me to go through the divorce trauma in order to meet the man I’d always known was waiting for me. He was perfect, my soulmate. It was right.In the beginning I thought he was the reason my life had taken the turns it had.

Actually, it was wrong and I’ve come to realize that but it doesn’t mean that I have the need to let him go or maybe it’s not so much need as it is the necessity to let him go. My real Mr. Right hasn’t shown up, and I don’t expect he will. So I’ve tried to get my life into an orderly sort of existance, one that has Todd compartmentalized with all the other wishes that have never come true, and probably won’t.

And every once in a while I actually believe him when he says that he loves me, although he doesn’t say it as much now as he used to. Perhaps it has something to do with the promises he made to his wife when she discovered some receipts in his pocket for clothing he bought me. Perhaps he wanted to get caught. Maybe he has a need to be reprimanded for cheating. It doesn’t stop him, only makes him a little more cautious when he calls or when we meet.

Or maybe our relationship needed to be spiced up a bit for him and maybe he enjoys knowing that he has to be supremely careful or she’ll find out again. Maybe it’s a game he’s playing, using me to create excitement in his marriage. I’ve tried to analyze this in the long hours of the night but it still comes back to this: I wait for his call and I run to him for the little time we can spend together and then I take the memory back with me and stretch it out to fill the time until we get together again.

Sometimes I dream about being his wife. But then I get these spurts of sanity and know that if I was his wife there would be someone else like me dreaming the same dreams. Is it better that I am who and where I am? Am I freer this way? I think so.

© Pat Gaudette. All rights reserved.