I should have lied about the rug burns

I was just trying to be honest ... but I was indiscreet

Published September 14, 2010 1:01AM (EDT)

Hey Cary,

How does one ... how do I ... rebuild lost karma?

Something happened between me and this woman B, last week, and ever since I feel so, so sad for her and for me and for everyone. In one line: B and I had sex and I told her afterward that I had very recently had sex with someone else (S) in the same apartment; upon hearing this B, rightfully, left. (But she didn't storm out. Rather she just lingered for 20 minutes as we talked cordially, but her sudden coolness showed me how much of an ass I had been.)

Recently, I had been not sleeping with anyone. Three months ago, my girlfriend of five years left me. She changed her mind about marriage, and so she left, and we don't really talk, and we are each moving on. After the breakup, though, I feel like other women initially could smell the desperation and loss that I carried, and wouldn't get too close. Then two weeks ago, I tried online dating, immediately met S, and planned our first date. In the interim, I met B at a party, and we really hit it off and ended up sleeping with each other back at my place. The next night, I went with S on a first (wonderful) date and we also slept with each other. (Circumstantially, S is a better fit for someone that I could end up with than B was.) And instead of feeling like a slut, I felt cocky, like somehow the world owed me success with women.

In an under-analyzed attempt to prove to B something (I'm still not sure what), I asked her to go on a second date and we again went back to my place. Just before sleeping with me, though, she said that she wanted to be clear that she was not interested in a long-term boyfriend. Although I didn't want to be in a relationship with her either, counterintuitively I was still stung. After sex, we talked about our exes. Intimately but painfully, B asked me to recount every detail of my girlfriend (unilaterally) breaking up with me. As I told B the sad story, I felt very close to her, but also felt very vulnerable and sad. And at that exact moment, B pointed to a rash on my knee and asked me what it was from. And instead of being a real person and lying and saying that I fell off my bicycle, I (under the pretense of honesty) snapped:

"You really want to know?"


"You sure?"

"Or course."

"It's from sex with another girl."

"You're kidding?"


"You're serious?"


"You mean you're not kidding?"


(with analytic lack of emotion) "When?"

"Two days ago."


I point to the rug across the room. She inhales a cigarette as we twist the conversation back to small talk. And after 20 sterile minutes, B leaves.

And despite this karma catastrophe, things are ironically working out really well with S, and we are moving quickly into a great relationship. Yet I feel so scarred by the episode of misogyny that I want to flagellate myself.

You know in "Gandhi" when the Hindu man confesses to Gandhi that he had killed a Muslim boy and that he was feeling incredible guilt and what should he do? And Gandhi replies that all he has to do is find an orphaned boy and to raise him like his own son. And the Hindu agrees. But then Gandhi (in Ben Kingsley's eternal voice) adds, "Only be sure ... that he is a Muslim. And that you raise him as one."

I know my story is nothing, but who can my adopted child be, Cary? I'm not an emotional person, usually. But I just feel so, so sad.

Made a Bad Move

Dear Made a Bad Move,

That red spot on your knee really got you into trouble.

What you should have said was, "I was scrubbing the floor."

You wanted the place to be very clean. In case she came over.

You know how women like a clean place.

Let's clear up something. In the third paragraph from the end, there are four words that don't belong: "Catastrophe," "scarred," "misogyny" and "flagellate." It wasn't a catastrophe, it wasn't misogyny, you're not scarred and there's no call for flagellation.

It was just a mistake in judgment.

Maybe there were reasons. You want possible reasons? It's easy to imagine how you might have felt hurt and small as you recounted your sad breakup; it may have made you feel powerful to reveal how you had had another woman there just the other night. You're only human. Humans make mistakes. Let it go.

I don't know about this business of finding a Muslim boy and raising him Muslim. But if you hurt this woman's feelings, maybe you can do something nice for her. There's hardly any downside to doing something nice for someone, as long as you don't blow it by acting all guilty and apologetic and complicated.

Just get her a little gift. Just get her a little gift because you feel you owe her something but don't tell her it's because you feel you owe her something or that will spoil it and you don't want to spoil it as you've already spoiled enough for one week.

You probably talk too much. Am I right?

Don't talk so much.

In sex, in fiction and in life, one must learn to withhold.

Get yourself a wooden box and put your secrets in it.

Write Your Truth.

Want more?

By Cary Tennis

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