You know that line in Annie Hall, when a young Jeff Goldblum, swaying, off-balance inebriated from some drug, says into the phone “I forgot my mantra” as Alvy Singer (played by Woody Allen) and Annie Hall leave a fabulous Beverly Hills party? Well, this is the scene that popped into my mind when I came home one night and found my husband talking to his computer.
Let me back up.
I was out having a beer with a good friend of mine when something felt wrong, and I suddenly had the urge to leave. I cut my evening short and drove home to find what was gnawing at me.
I instinctively park on the street, so the noise from the car doesn’t rouse my dogs into barking, which would prevent me from learning what the gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach is. What I already know.
“I’ll do anything to save our marriage.”
Invigorated by the cool pacific air and buzzed from a Stella and a half, (I don’t get out much) I creep along the row of ficus that hug the edge of our front yard when a feeling of nostalgia rushes over me; I recall my nine-year-old self spying on my eldest sister. I smile as those skills finally come in handy twenty-five years later, allowing me to sneak onto the porch without making a sound.
I’m not usually this paranoid. Nor do I make a habit of leaving a friend at a bar just because I have an unsettling feeling, but things are different lately; ever since I found out my husband was, has been…is having an affair.
But he had promised me: “I’ll do anything to save our marriage.”
On the porch – undetected by our two sleeping yorkie-poos, who I can now see, three feet from me, lounging peacefully at our front window (note to self: they suck as guard dogs. Another illusion shattered) – I peer through the front window and see my husband sitting on the couch with his back facing me, a computer in his lap.
In one hand he holds a glass of wine while the other hand waves in the air as if he is having a lively conversation with someone.
I’m immediately relieved he is alone.
My husband has lied to me so many times about this other woman that I, sadly, would not be at all surprised if he weren’t alone. My husband and this woman planned a camping trip on a weekend I was at a good friend’s wedding with several families from my daughter’s pre-school; and had sex while my child slept in the next tent.
“I’ll do anything to save our marriage.”
I slide my key gently into the lock – careful not to make a sound – and swiftly turn it while pushing the door open.
Instantly, my husband slams the computer shut and springs off the couch like a rabbit being hunted, nearly spilling his glass of wine as he fumbles for words. Trying – unsuccessfully – to act natural.
I realize he was talking to her through my computer so there is no record of it on our phone bill – managing to sink to an ultra, new low – even for him.
But…he promised me “I’ll do anything to save our marriage.”
He is sweating now. I swear I can see his heart pounding in his chest as he fishes for the umpteenth time for a plausible lie.
I don’t say a word, choosing instead to let him squirm for a bit, while I allow the visual of this pathetic man – lying to me again – to sink deeply and firmly into my brain. I calmly pull out a dining room chair, sit down and face him. He stands in front of me befuddled, talking rapidly about anything except what’s actually happening.
I finally say, “Come on. This is getting humiliating…for you. Stop lying. You were talking to her again.”
After a long pause he finally comes up with, “I had to…I think I’m having a Kundalini awakening…my spine is tingly and she knows a lot about Kundalini yoga. I had to talk to her about it.”
Me: “What?!?…You are using a self-diagnosed spiritual awakening to justify lying to your wife who is trying e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y hard to trust you again?”
Do I laugh or cry?
Isn’t a spiritual awakening about getting closer to truth? Would an awakened person use his wife’s computer to call someone he swore he would never speak to again?
He promised me he would do anything to save our marriage. He promised me over and over again that he would have no contact with her, that our family was more important, that he still loves me. That our daughter deserves two parents intact, under one roof, that our child was the priority and she would not have to suffer a divorce, like he and I both had suffered our own parents’ divorces, and clearly was something that still affected him.
Spiritual awakening…husband, you are simply an asshole.
This is when Annie Hall pops into my head. It dawns on me that only in Los Angeles would you hear an excuse like this for going behind someone’s back. Maybe LA is as crazy as the rest of the country thinks we are. Anything to reach enlightenment.
Husband…you forgot your mantra.