“Good morning,” Andrew says as he walks in the front door. He sits down in the chair across from me and smiles at me.
“Aren’t you supposed to be gone by now?” I ask without looking up from my tablet.
“I wanted to see you first,” he says. “I miss you when I’m gone.”
“I miss you when you’re gone too,” I say. “I miss you whenever you’re not around.”
“Is that so?” Andrew asks, stroking his beard in amusement. “And here you always seem so eager to push me away and keep me at arm’s length at all times.”
“I’m giving up on that now. I’m tired of denying my feelings and holding them inside. There’s no point. I keep asking myself every day why this is happening to me. The truth is I don’t know, but I figure it’s happening for a reason. If it happened this way, that’s because it was meant to be and I just need to be at peace with it.”
“I’m here because you need me,” he says confidently. “And you’re here because I need you.”
“Why would you need me when you have everything in the entire world?”
“Because having it all ain’t what it’s cracked up to be,” he says. “Besides, you know me. I’m not really the monogamous, perfect stay-at-home dad type. I like to be free to live my life on my own terms.”
“Then why do you pretend to be one thing when you’re really another?”
Andrew looks me over and sits quietly for a few minutes while he thinks of a response.
“Do you think it’s possible to be in love with more than one person at once?” he finally asks.
“Of course it is,” I say. “Monogamy is a lie fed to us by the patriarchy. Love is much more complex than that. It is definitely possible to be in love with two different people for different reasons. People act so sanctimonious about marriage and fidelity but it’s much more complicated than that. That’s why I’m still letting you come around. If I really thought you were a jerk, I wouldn’t be writing about you at all.”
“That’s a good answer,” he says. “It really is much more complicated than that.”
“It’s not hard to figure out. You love her because she’s the mother of your child and you promised her you’d build a new life together. You love me because I’m young and allow you to be yourself and have your freedom. I represent your old life and your desire to be young again.
“I get the sense from you that you thought you married one person but now everything has changed and it’s not the same anymore. She did everything for you and followed you everywhere. You didn’t know what to do after she left, so you gave in to her demands for the kind of life she wanted. Nowthe script has flipped. Now it’s not about you anymore. It’s all about her all the time. She left behind a good job for you and I can almost guarantee she doesn’t let you forget it. That’s why it’s all about her and the baby and there’s no time for you. You don’t do the things you used to do. She doesn’t treat you the way she used to treat you. You try to compromise and meet in the middle but it’s getting harder every day because she just keeps taking more and more without giving anything back.”
“So you come to me. You come to me because I give something back to you. I want to do what you want to do, follow you around, and take care of you. That’s what you really want, isn’t it? That’s what you thought you were getting when you got married. Instead, everything changed. Now you go back to your Perfect HGTV Dream Home and wish that you could escape your self-made prison.”
Andrew raises his eyebrow and strokes his beard again.
“You’re very intuitive,” he says. “It’s amazing how much you pick up on even when you’re blackout drunk.”
I shrug my shoulders.
“It’s my job to figure out characters and their motivations. You’re obviously not here because you’re just looking for sex. You know you can’t get that from me, but you are getting stories about you. You’re gaining insight into yourself by reading my stories, just as I’m gaining insight into myself by writing about you. That’s why you’re still coming around wanting more.”
“And what insight into yourself are you gaining from me?”
“It’s hard to explain right now. I guess you could say that writing about you makes me feel like I’m worth something more than just my body. I feel good about myself. I feel like I can do anything. Usually guys make me feel like I’m worthless. But not you… you make me feel good.”
“That’s a strange thing to say to a married man.”
“Andrew, I already explained to you my understanding of the situation. This is happening because you don’t feel valued or appreciated by your partner. I don’t feel valued or appreciated by anyone. We’re on the same wavelength. We both have unmet emotional needs on a significant level. That’s how we ended up in this situation together.”
“You’re right,” says Andrew. “You are totally and completely, 100% right.”
“I know,” I reply. “That’s why I increasingly care less and less what everyone else thinks. The people who are judging me and calling me a homewrecker are definitely not people who understand the complexities of love. They think about it in very black-and-white terms. Not to mention the fact that they’re all terrible people in their own respects. All of them are mean, controlling, and judgmental people who pride themselves on how Nice they are. I don’t enjoy spending time around any of them. They say they love me and they’re my family and my friends, but they treat me like shit. That’s not love! They make me feel so WORTHLESS. Everyone in my life makes me feel WORTHLESS.
“The only time I feel like I’m worth something is when you’re reading my stories. You make me feel like my talent is worth something. You make me feel like I can do anything. You never try to hold me back. And you kept inspiring me after I wrote a story about you getting robbed by a stripper and called you out! And I’m just supposed to discount these feelings because a bunch of horrible, unhappy people who constantly make me feel bad about myself think marriage is sacred? Bullshit!”
Andrew looks at me sadly.
“I always knew there was more to you than meets the eye,” he says. “I never paid attention to the gossip. To me you always seemed so sad and alone. The more I read, the more I understand why. That’s why I’m so drawn to you. I feel like you understand me on a level that most people don’t.”
“Yeah, there’s a lot of reasons why I’m messed up. The first is that I don’t receive any love in my life. That’s why I crave it so badly. These people say that they love me, but they don’t. They’re only saying it because they want to feel good about themselves. In reality they’re abusive. They were abused so they pass it on. I’m trying to break the cycle and fix myself, but it’s so hard when I’m stuck with people who make me feel like my existence means nothing. I try so hard and it’s never good enough for anyone.”
“We’re in the same boat,” he says. “Believe me. We are in the exact same boat.”
“In that case, I say we sail this boat to an island somewhere, lie out on the beach, smoke a joint, and drink a fuckton of island juice.”
“That sounds like a great idea!” Andrew exclaims. “I wish I was doing that right now instead of flying out to Vermont to see my wife!”
“You wanna get a hotel room in Omaha and watch HGTV?”
“Yes, Andrew. I want to get a hotel room in Omaha and watch HGTV.”
“Then let’s go get a hotel room in Omaha and watch HGTV!”
They go to Omaha, get a hotel room, and watch HGTV.