Betrayal, his and hers

How can I think about my lies when Matt's are taking up all the space?

Published December 2, 1999 5:00PM (EST)

Dec. 2, 1999

Thursday, October 7

Matt's anguished self-loathing turns out to be a consequence of
his sexual popularity, not mine. I guess I should be relieved?

So he had a fling with a summer associate -- with a rich brat in
the MIT MBA program who just happens to be the daughter of a $500
john! Was Larissa in love with Matt? Just having fun with an
older guy? (I guess, for her, Matt qualifies as just that:

Some obscure part of me imagines Matt sitting at a restaurant
table, feeling like the seasoned Clintonesque rake, as he gazes
into a summer intern's admiring eyes. And I find it almost
touching. After all, I know something about this: With Milton,
with a lot of older clients, I love to feel like an indulged
young thing.

Was this Matt's first chance to sample that scenario?
If he liked the feeling, it won't be his last.

Matt and I will never have that -- with each other. My first
reaction to Larissa was: "That spoiled marauding bitch, having
her fun at MY expense ..." But I wonder if we have something
in common -- a liking for older guys? A spark of pleasure induced
by paternalistic --

WHO AM I KIDDING? This is grounds for strangulation!!! All I have
in common with that girl is ... Matt.

After we left the bar, I sniped at him in the cab: "Did you use
condoms with her?"

He looked startled and pained: "I don't think we should talk
about the details --"

"It's a good thing we use condoms," I hissed. "Did you lie to
her, too?" I added, recalling the conversation I overheard at the
beginning of their affair. "Did she think it was a fling?" I
couldn't bring myself to say her name.

"This isn't a good idea," he mumbled. "Please ... not here!"
He tried to hold my hand, and I pulled myself toward the door of
the cab, causing him to grab hold of my skirt. "Let's go to my
place and I'll -- I'll answer all your questions, OK?" I stared
down at the hem of my skirt -- he was holding it so firmly that I
couldn't really move. "You look so beautiful tonight," he

A guy must never be discouraged from saying THAT -- especially
when he's looking at your thighs -- so I stopped myself from
asking what sweet nothings he'd been feeding her. Still, I
couldn't help asking, "Do you really expect me to share your bed
with HER?" God, that was below the belt: He was so unprepared for
these icky stabs. He had never planned to discuss the sex, just
the feelings ... Some guys are so naive.

"Just give me another chance!" he said in desperation. "Do you
have any idea what I've been going through? I hated myself for
lying to you!"

"Really?" Taken aback, I couldn't exactly say, "Me too." Partly
because I only hate lying when it gets to be a chore and because
I would hate myself more for hurting him with the truth.
Relieved by the calming effect this had on me, he released my

"Look," he explained. "I'm not saying it was OK to do it, but
this whole thing ... I wasn't sure I really loved you." He was
touching my hair, slowly outlining my face with his fingertips.
"But I hate the way it feels when I hide something from you and I
kept wanting to tell you -- that's how I knew. You can't just
trash our relationship over this."

"What made you decide to tell me? Maybe it was better when I
didn't know."

"That's what I thought when I started --" There was an
uncomfortable pause. "But it was so much worse because you
didn't know. When Allison called in the middle of the night,
when you canceled dinner -- whenever you canceled anything -- I
had these crazy thoughts. You wanted me to hold you the other
night -- and I couldn't because of what I was hiding. My own guilt was making me suspicious of you,
paranoid ... Don't you get it? How can you say it's better to lie
to you when it drives us apart?"

"Maybe it's over," I said quietly, "for you and me."

"Do you want a guy who just loves you because it's easy? My
feelings have actually been tested by -- by this mistake that I
made. If you can just walk away from those feelings, you don't
know what's real and what's --" I collapsed on his shoulder,
overwhelmed by the worst kind of remorse.

Saturday, October 9

Yesterday, Matt called three times -- once while I was in the
shower getting ready to see Etienne, and later while I was in bed
with Milton. Matt loves his new role, penitent boyfriend.

"He's like a reformed whore," Jasmine remarked. "So, let him
think he's got a scarlet past to live down. It's a status thing."

"After a day of seeing clients, I can't handle it," I sighed. "He
wants to talk all the time! And you know what? I think he really
liked it when I called him a sadistic bastard!"

"Cut him some slack!" Jasmine advised. "It's probably the most
interesting thing a girl ever called him. Anyway, he's forgotten
all about your problems with Allison -- thank God."

But I haven't forgotten -- about Allison's threats or the stupid
mistake I made this summer, trying to help her make some money
off her book.


"Look, I can't believe MY BOYFRIEND fooled around with Spooky's
daughter! It's too close for comfort," I told Jasmine today. "How
long can I keep up the pretense? My own johns are producing the
next generation of emotional competition. Sometimes I just want
to tell Matt everything."

Jasmine was incensed. "If Matt knew that Larissa's dad was getting blow
jobs at his desk from you -- or watching you masturbate on the office
couch -- the guy would go out of his mind! The entire population of
Manhattan is connected by its private parts -- well, why do think they're
called private parts?" She was waggling her index finger rather
fanatically. "New York as we know it would IMPLODE if smart alecks like us
abandoned our duty. We're here to protect civilization from itself. If you
weren't prepared for the rigors of a double life, you shouldn't have been
dating a guy like Matt."

I guess she's right -- but why AM I so drawn to these straight
relationships? Respectability looms -- forbidden, alluring, like the
apple of temptation ... Matt was onto something when he asked me, "Don't
you have one normal girlfriend?" I have one friend left, whom I really
trust, and it's, well, Jasmine.

According to Jasmine, "It takes a long weekend and a few dinners
for a guy to get over the fact that he's treated you badly; it
would take seven years of therapy to recover from finding out
that the Girl He Loves has been turning tricks her entire adult
life!" She's convinced Matt would spend an entire year wondering
if I ever had a real orgasm with him, having nightmares about
every woman he dates. "Could you really do that to a guy? And
don't forget, his sister's a prosecutor!" she added. "If you
won't PROMISE to keep your mouth shut, I might just lock you in
the bathroom with duct tape over your mouth. And," she snickered,
weirdly, "I'll recruit Allison to stand guard."


This afternoon, as I was leaving the health club, Randy tried to stop me
but -- running late for my hair appointment -- I pretended not to see him.

A tall, dapper, pink-faced man with a mustache opened the door for me. I
flashed him a smile.

"Excuse me," he said, following me to the sidewalk, "aren't you Nancy
Chan?" In a panic, I started heading back inside -- instinctively rushing
toward Randy. "Don't," said the increasingly familiar voice, "make your
situation worse by lying to a federal agent." As Randy approached, an
enraged scowl on his face, the man turned.

"It's not a crime to lie to a boyfriend," he said. "But it's a crime to lie to us."

By Tracy Quan

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