"Are you fucking my husband?"
It was the question I asked when I called her for the first time (yes, there would be other times), her being the woman who was, in fact, fucking my husband.
I did not actually need her to tell me though. The vacant look on my husband's face alone during the week following his announcement that he was "done with our marriage" was really the only proof I ever needed.
When my husband learned that I had called his "good friend" (her own description of herself as she explained to me the significant position she held in my husband's life), I was chastised for embarrassing him. He compared my apparent classlessness to that of Henry Hill's wife, Karen, in the 1990 film, Goodfellas, as she rang random buzzers in the lobby of her husband's mistress' apartment building yelling, "I'm going to tell everybody that walks in this building that in 2R, Rossi, you're nothing but a whore."
Over the coming weeks my husband's "good friend" and I had several more conversations (most, but not all, precipitated by me). In one, I attempted to reason with her to leave my husband alone. In another, I mockingly questioned whether she preferred to be called a whore or a piece of ass. Interestingly, she chose piece of ass before hanging up on me (I will save that analysis for another discussion).
My attempts fell on deaf ears as she told me, in no uncertain terms, that no matter what I did to try and save my marriage, it would have no effect on her relationship with my husband.
As time would tell, she would be right.
More than my husband's actions, what I found most curious was his mistress' lack of remorse, remorse for her part in a marriage's end, especially where three young children were involved.
Why did she not care? Why did she choose to believe my husband when he told her he and I were separated for two years when we were not?
I was quick to point a finger. Call her a homewrecker. A whore. But was the fault only hers? Or even hers at all?
With those questions in mind, I summoned the courage on one sunny afternoon last August to type the text I had been waiting for so long to write.
"Situation still the same?" I nonchalantly asked of the married man I unwittingly dated last year.
At first he did not recognize my number, my contact information deleted.
"Saved," I sighed, already regretting my action, "from myself." Better I let a sleeping dog lie.
But a few hours later, curiosity got the best of him and he called. Panicking, I sent the call immediately into voicemail.
Recognizing my name and my voice from the outgoing message, he texted again.
No, his situation was not the same. He was available!
We spoke on the phone, and over the next few weeks, exchanged sporadic texts until finally setting a time to see one other.
Admittedly, I chose to believe. Look the other way. Take what he said at face value.
Over drinks and then dinner we reacquainted ourselves with one another, sharing stories about work and family. Tales of a wife mostly focused on her own children from a previous marriage, her vanity, and interests that did not appear of much interest to him.
I asked what specifically about his situation had changed from when we first met.
Physical separation. Financial planning. A desire to move on.
And what about his situation had not changed? That he was likely lying to me, yet again.
Only this time I knew better.
"You know, what you did was not very nice," I gently scolded, speaking of how he had lied to me about his marital status.
"It's not like I did it for the sake of it," he explained.
This time I believed him.
Within every lie there exists its opposite -- the truth. In my eyes, this was it. The truth I saw that evening came in the form of a man desperately looking for the attention and appreciation he was obviously not feeling at home, likely why he exuded such warmth when we first met and the chemistry between us was so heated.
Indeed, if we are not careful, marriage can become the loneliest place on Earth. I know.
Single life can often feel the same way. I know that as well. It was likely that loneliness which served as the impetus for my not so innocent innocent inquiry as to this man's marital status and, I assume, what also inspired my husband's mistress to aggressively pursue a man living and working thousands of miles from his family, similarly starved for his own affection as a consequence.
Today I question whether my husband's mistress is the same homewrecker I had once thought.
My husband and I seemed to do a pretty good job wrecking the home we had built together without any of her help.
As for me, did I feel guilty about spending an evening with a man I suspected still to be married?
For one night that did not lead to another (hard to build anything on lies and, besides, I believe he was already quite busy), I saw my ex husband in another man, myself in my husband's mistress, and in his mistress an understanding of why some women gravitate to men who are already spoken for.
It is easy to say with conviction that cheating should never happen. Accepting why it often does is what remains a challenge.