This story contains scenes that some readers may find disturbing. It contains strong language, mild violence, and mockery of a Braves legend. Baseball fans and cuckolds are strongly cautioned. Intended for immature audiences only.
Here’s the story of the April night in the year 2000 when I found out why Fartbuster had moved out of our house. We had been separated for three weeks. I was parking my car in the middle of the garage and already cooking for one. He and I talked every day and cried just about every day. I just couldn’t get it through my head WHY he had moved in with his friend downtown when he was telling me every day how much he wanted to be back together.
So one night he came over for dinner and drama. We were sitting on the couch with our dogs–pretty normal night. He started crying first, which usually meant that I would end up crying most.
“I’m not good enough for you. You deserve better.” He sobbed. I patted his knee and assured him that that was not the case. He was a WONDERFUL person. Ominously, he peeped at me out of the wet corner of his eye and said, “You don’t know everything.”
I didn’t say a word. My heart stopped then raced to catch itself. “What don’t I know?”
“I had an affair.”
Well. What’s a wife supposed to say to that?
This wife, being a bit of a codependent class clown type, made a joke. A bad joke. The dissolution of our marriage happened just a few months after the public meltdown of Chipper Jones’ first marriage–when he confessed to fathering a child with a Hooters waitress. I don’t follow baseball, but Chipper had been married to a girl I knew from college. I had felt so awful for her when he was busted–the situation was terrible enough, but imagine having the world discussing your cheating husband on drive time radio shows and Entertainment Tonight? So to lighten the mood in our living room that night–oh, when will I ever learn???–I said:
“At least you didn’t get a Hooters waitress pregnant, right?”
I lifted my hand off his knee. He hopped up off the couch and got a safe distance away before he turned to face me. “Not exactly…but pretty close.”
Every sound in the world was replaced by the buzzing inside my head, a metallic hum that seemed to begin deep in my bones and rattle through my body. “Ah,” I whispered. “She doesn’t work at Hooters.”
“Yeah.” He stared at me to make sure I had put two and two together. Or one and one and gotten three.
He started babbling about how he had cheated but knew it was wrong and he had ended it but then she had turned up saying she was pregnant and that was why he had moved out–to clear things up with her. He planned to come back to me as if nothing had ever happened. As if. His fancy German therapist had pointed out the problem with this logic and had suggested that Fartbuster come clean to me if he ever hoped to patch our marriage back together. I had to know the truth.
And now I did.
Like you might expect, I stomped and screamed and shrieked while he stood there with a hangdog expression in the middle of the living room. The dogs hightailed it for the bedroom. I tore off my heavy gold wedding band and beaned at his head, but I telegraphed my pitch and he had time to dodge it. He scooped the ring from the floor after it bounced off the fireplace and held it between his hands. He was still crying.
I dropped into a chair as my fury dissolved into anguish. It was my turn to cry.
He approached me hesitantly. It’s hard to know if you can comfort someone when you’re the one who dealt the blow.
“Don’t you dare lay a finger on me,” I snarled. Then I hung my head and sobbed. He knelt on the floor before me, so still and just a foot away, my wedding ring still in his hand.
We sat frozen there for a long time, like some mockery of a marriage proposal–him on bended knee with a ring and me weeping.
He reached out slowly and touched my hair. I let him.
I whimpered, “This hurts so bad. …. I want you to hurt like this. ….I want to hit you.”
He stretched his arms open wide and smiled. “Do it! Hit me! I’d feel better if you did.”
We both laughed as he continued to encourage me to punch him. “C’mon…this is your chance…”
“No. I’m not going to.” Laughing with him like that, like old times, minutes after he confessed to pulling a Chipper? My fury flamed back. “I don’t want you to feel better. I don’t want you to think that makes up for any of this.” I snatched the ring out of his hand. “And I’m keeping this. I can always melt it down and make a pair of earrings.”
Well. That was the beginning of a long journey–a year it took us to finally go our separate ways. I think back sometimes to that moment, that choice I made to withhold my fist and not beat the shit out of him. I didn’t want his atonement to be that easy. A punch in the face was nothing compared to the punch in the gut that he had dealt me with his confession. I took the high road that night, but there were many many times in that year when I wished I had walloped him. Swung for the fence. Smashed a tater. Blasted a homer. Belted him. Slugged him. Knocked a four-bagger. Hammer time.
But if I had, I would have chipped away at the awful burden that he had to carry. If I had hit him, he would have walked to first.
P.S. – The ex-Mrs. Jones, Karin Luis, has flown far far above where she ever could have gotten with that turkey. She’s a therapist, author, and speaker who focuses on women’s resiliency and spiritual development. She is co-auther of the book The Fatherless Daughter Project. Check her out on Facebook as “Dr. Karin” or on her website.