Chapter 2

Click here for Chapter 1!

I never planned on losing interest in my husband, it just sort of happened. Like when the paint starts to chip off of your fingernails. Or when the chain on your bike starts to rust. It got old. Our situation got old very fast. The debt, the alcohol, the lack of a sex life. I didn’t see him as the same rich, handsome, successful lawyer I met in college. He was this poor, sad little car salesman now. Putting in overtime just to make ends meet. His physical appearance didn’t change at all. But he reminded me of a puppy with its tail between its legs. Every time he saw me, he was embarrassed. I mean, grow a pair, seriously. He still drank. He tried to hide it but I knew. I just quit caring enough to say anything.

I met James at the Farmer’s Market. I could tell, right away that he was a hard worker. He didn’t have a slender build like Matt. He was muscular and tan. I can’t tell you the exact moment we met. Or what our first conversation was, because it was casual. So casual that none of it felt wrong. It was totally innocent. He walked towards my car with me, genuinely interested in our conversation. He asked what I did for a living, if I had any kids. Once I’d bored him with my copywriting job and childless life, I quizzed him. Do you have kids? Nope. A wife. Nah uh. What does he do? An investor, you could say. Buying houses to fix up and sell for profit. Something about it was attractive, so much more attractive than a car salesman.

We didn’t exchange numbers, but I caught myself wandering back to that conversation, over and over. And I realized that my husband never came up.

He knows I’m married. Of course he knows. It’s a small town; most people know who I am. Right?

I saw him again at the library. The public library. A free escape from our poor, empty home. We sold a lot of our furniture on Craigslist for extra cash. My beloved Kate Spade ottoman. A bassinet we’d probably never get to use.  We even got rid of one of our cars. Granted, a two person household doesn’t really need three cars. But it was hard to let go.  Matt’s first car, almost an antique now, was a 1979 Camaro. It sold for a lot of cash. Made a decent contribution to our financial situation. Nonetheless, our home went from a luxurious sanctuary to an empty museum. We held on to the necessities. And my books. I couldn’t part with any of them. Plus they wouldn’t have sold for much.

But I couldn’t justify buying them anymore, so I reluctantly checked out the library. And to my pleasant surprise, I saw James again. He was sitting at one of those tables in the back, reading a book called Real Estate Investing. He was the only one in there, besides the librarian. So I walked around and waited for him to look up.


He remembered my name.

“Oh, hi.” I whispered, suddenly aware of the nosey librarian listening in to our conversation.

“Whatcha lookin’ for?” He sounded kind of southern. I wonder where he’s from.

“Oh, just something new,” how cliché, I thought to myself. And then I initiated it.

“Hey, I could really use your help… My kitchen sink, it’s, uh… doing something funny. Clogged up, maybe?”

“Sure, when can I stop by?”

“How’s Saturday? Around 3?”

“See you then.”

Today’s Wednesday. I’ve got two and a half days to mess up my sink.

I walked into the house to find Matt on the couch with a glass of what I could only assume was bourbon. He looked up from his laptop and slammed it shut. “Just, uh, looking for some more work.” He stood up to help me with the groceries. I’d stopped at Whole Foods afterwards for some stuff to make dinner.

I unpacked the ingredients, keeping my eye on him as he sat back down on the couch. “Any luck?”

“With what?”

“Finding another job?”

“Oh, right. No.. no leads yet.” His voice trailed off as he began typing furiously. It’s sad that I couldn’t care less about what he was up to. I put a pot of water on the stove and waited for the bubbles. I start assembling spaghetti for the second time this week. We can’t afford steak and seafood dinners anymore. I miss wine.

The doorbell rings, and my heart drops. We hadn’t any visitors since we sold everything. Now’s the moment of truth. Whoever’s there, on my doorstep, was about to find out that we lost all our money. I look at Matt, willing him to go send them away. Tell them we’re sick or tired. Or really busy planning a party. But he doesn’t even move. His eyes are still glued to that damn laptop. I walk to the front door and just through the glass, I can make out long blonde hair. It’s Matt’s sister, Claire. She seems antsy, peering in through the window, ringing the doorbell again. I open it quickly, brushing my hair behind my ears, trying to look busy.

“Hey, what’s going on?”

“I can’t stop by? I have some great news!” She starts removing her coat before she’s even inside. Inching her way into the doorframe.

“Landon and I are pregnant!” Claire squealed, clapping her hands. She still hadn’t noticed any of our missing furniture. Typical Claire, always so self-absorbed.  I couldn’t help but envy her happiness, as she plopped down on the couch next to her brother. He gave her a one-armed hug, so as not to let go of the laptop, and kissed her on the forehead. They went on for a few minutes about Claire being a mom and Matt being an uncle. Then she noticed.

“Hey…” her voice trailed off, as she peered around our spacious home, “What happened to all you guys’ stuff?” She stood up, both hands on her hips. I crossed my arms, feeling defensive.

“We’re just trying to get rid of some clutter.” I spat, already getting angry.

“It’s ok, Linds…” Matt walked towards us, “You can tell her.” I looked at him, confused, and looked back at her.

“We’re getting ready to remodel. Had to clear out a lot of that old junk.” I can feel us falling into a deeper hole. “Oh… Ok…” Claire murmured, still unsure of Matt’s lie. “Well, I’ve gotta get home. Landon’s on his way home from work and I still haven’t told him the news!” She hugged Matt and waved bye to me. We never really got along. I watched her get into her Lexus and instantly filled with rage.

“Why would you lie to her?”

“You really want her to know our situation? She’d go straight to my parents.”

“Well maybe we should go to them ourselves. We’re in deep shit, Matt. I can’t do this anymore. Cheap food, no furniture. I feel guilty for even buying a book! Maybe they could loan us some money.”

He looked past me, considering what I’d said. “No. We can’t. If I give them a reason not to trust me with their finances, it’ll all go to my sisters. I can’t let that happen.” He says this as if they’ll die soon. They’re not even 60. These people went to Vegas for their anniversary last year. They’re not going anywhere for a while.

Saturday came quick. Matt got up for work at about 8, the dealership opened at 9. I brewed some coffee and sat at the table with him. We don’t talk much anymore, aside from the occasional argument about money, so I try to just be near him. So he doesn’t realize that I’ve fallen out of love with him. He pours us each a bowl of cereal and sits down next to me.

We take turns making breakfast. It’s always been the deal. Even when I first started sleeping over at his apartment, when we were in college. Some days I would wake up and make pancakes and eggs. Other days I’d wake up starving and he’d pour me some oatmeal or cereal. Matt’s absolutely useless in the kitchen. He always had his mother and sisters, or a maid to wait on him. In a way, I thought it was adorable. A useless little boy that I could take care of. The idea sounded domestic. I liked it. I honestly wasn’t a great cook. But when I married Matt I had to figure it out. His parents suggested we get a housekeeper. But without kids, I felt like we couldn’t really justify it.  We were happy, though. Happy and in love and rich. I never thought we’d be here, poor and pathetic.

The doorbell rang at 3:01, and there was James. He looked even better than I remembered.

Click here for Chapter 3.

Chapter 1

You know things are bad when you’d rather stay at work, in a tiny cubicle, fighting off the migraine you get every day at about 2pm thanks to the fluorescent lights. You’re holding your head in your hands like it might explode. Your boss tells you to take the rest of the day off but you’re scared.

Instead of going home, I walk to a nearby coffee shop. Can’t take my car, sometimes he drives by. He’ll kill me if he finds out I left work without telling him. I order a cappuccino, toss some cash on the counter and sit in a corner booth.

“It’ll be ready in just a few minutes.”

I really need the caffeine. My forehead feels like it might explode at any minute. I haven’t slept in weeks. Not since he found out. I’m nervous. Biting my nails. Every car that passes by makes me panic.

“Miss?” I jump, the cashier looks startled, “Your cappuccino…”

I thank her and take a sip of my cappuccino. It’s warm. Not hot, but warm.

It’s nearly 4. I’ll have to head back to work soon, to pick up my car. I get anxious, wondering if he’ll be driving around town, keeping an eye out for me. If he sees me walking he’ll hurt me. I know it.

“Just wait ‘till we get home.” Like something a father tells his daughter.

Only he’s not my father, he’s my husband. And I want a divorce.

We used to want the same things. I never minded the idea of being a stay-at-home mom. A trophy wife, if you will. I have no shame, I’ll admit. I’m an attractive woman. Not supermodel attractive. I have more ass than a supermodel. But I try. I spend my mornings plucking and tweezing, blending and contouring, blow drying and curling. I wear pencil skirts and heels in an office full of slacks and flats. I try.

Unfortunately, I was promoted. Unfortunately, I was promoted. Isn’t that sentence bizarre? I got excited. This was going to be more than a job to pass the time. I went from “Aspiring stay-at-home mom” to “Career driven feminist.” I’ll admit, my priorities changed. And it wasn’t ok with him.

You see, Matt is almost a millionaire. I say almost because it’s his parents’ money. But he’s their only son. He has two idiot sisters, but they married well. They don’t need their daddy’s money. Matt, however, does. His parents haven’t found out yet, in fact, I think he’s hoping they’ll die soon so that he can collect. He was disbarred. Some financial issues at his firm. Lots of legal terms I’m not entirely familiar with. Not because I’m dumb, because I majored in journalism. All I know is that Matt is in trouble.

As of lately, he’d been relying heavily on our credit cards. Once he maxed those out, he took out an equity loan on our house. My house, really. The only thing my parents ever owned, they left it to me. Their one and only child. The house I grew up in was now collateral for my husband’s expensive alcohol problem.

“Why can’t you be a normal drunk? Why can’t you drink cheap whiskey?” I’d demanded one night, looking at our credit card statements.

Bar after bar after bar, each transaction nearing $1,000. I doubt he remembers that conversation. The scary things is, Matt can be blacked out drunk. And have a perfectly logical conversation. You’d never know that he’d just consumed about 2 bottles of Macallan 25 year.

The goal was to be rich enough for me to get pregnant and stay home with our babies. Typical housewife shit. I didn’t mind. I loved the idea of being taken care of. Luckily, I couldn’t get pregnant. And then things started to fall apart. Several months went by before I even noticed anything. He always took care of the bills. He was better off, financially. So I just let him takeover. Then one afternoon my card was declined. I was at lunch with some girlfriends. Fellow trophy wives. Can you imagine my embarrassment when the waiter brought me my card back? The one friend in the group who still had to work… And my card wouldn’t go through. Luckily, I had cash. I was supposed to pay the yard guy that day. So I dug out a few crisp 20’s and paid for my meal. Laughing about how Matt always forgets to schedule that payment. But they knew. I made a mental note: Stop by ATM for more cash.

To my dismay, when I swiped my ATM card a few hours later to make a withdrawal, I was politely denied access to my funds.

“What the fuck?” I thought to myself.

I grabbed my purse and went inside the branch. That’s when my perfect little world came tumbling down. Not only were we out of money, but our credit was screwed. Delinquent accounts. Late fees and missed payment fees, one on top of the other. The teller looked at me with her stupid sympathetic eyes. She was judging me. This minimum wage teller was judging me. She desperately needed a wax and a thick coat of mascara. I mumbled something about this all being a misunderstanding and walked out, trying to hold onto my pride.

Matt got home late that night. With an actual story about a client who showed up late. The case was going to be a tough one. Some bullshit about the retainer fee. He bent down for a kiss. That’s when I smelled the whiskey.

I didn’t accuse him of anything right away. I decided to play dumb and see how he would react. Matt always took me for just a pretty little girl. No brains or common sense. I served him a plate of leftover chicken penne.

“The weirdest thing happened today.”

“What’s that baby?”

“My card was declined at Café Sicilia.”

“Really, now?”

He’d always been such a good liar. One year, he pretended to forget my birthday. It was my 30th. I cried in the bathroom after dinner. We’d been married four years and he’d already started to forget things. Then he made up some story about having to help his dad with some life insurance policy thing. He dragged me all the way to their extravagant house in the middle of bum fuck Egypt. And SURPRISE! A party. I was so in love. What a good liar.

“Yeah, it was declined. Of course Amber and Stacy were smitten. I’m sure they loved seeing me denied something, for once in their pathetic lives.”

“Must’ve been a mistake with the card company.”

“Right, that’s what I thought. But I stopped for cash to pay the yard guy, and our ATM card was denied too. Can you believe that?”

“Mhm, sounds like a misunderstanding baby, I’ll look into it in the morning.” He was starting to doze off. That’s what whiskey does to you. It lets you forget about all of your problems and fall asleep when your wife starts to question you. Oh, how I love whiskey.

I couldn’t let my act go on for long. After all, I would need gas money to go to work soon, and as far as I could tell, all of my cards were useless. I woke up before him to play innocent housewife. Housewife who hadn’t been poking her nose in her husband’s finances. The sad thing is that I was more concerned about the money than his lies. He could’ve just rolled out of his mistress’ bed for all I knew, and I spent the evening logging into bank accounts and credit card sites, trying to figure out what the hell had happened.

From the bank account and credit card statements, it looked like the income had stopped right around 4 months ago. That’s when the credit cards started maxing out. And I’m so serious when I say it wasn’t my fault. My income kept coming. Into that near empty bank account. My measly little paycheck was still depositing, but it was immediately being taken out to pay the Discover and American Express Cards. Those statements were mostly him. Sure, here and there I’d have a manicure or a brunch with my girlfriends. But the rest of it was nothing but bar tabs. First $300 at Lou’s, then $600 at Dublin’s. Finally he was nearing $1,000 every other night. It’s a wonder I didn’t catch on sooner.

After a few days of research, I decided it was time to confront my poor, drunk husband. I waited for him to get home one evening the next week. I decided that he must have accounts I didn’t know about, because he still had money to drink. Me, on the other hand, I was stuck. He walked in the front door so casually, it pissed me off.

“Hey babycakes,” he mumbled, “How was your day?” He asked, tousling my hair. He tried to kiss me, but I moved, he landed on my temple.

“My day sucked ass. You know why?”

He looked at me with genuinely confused eyes.

He’s so drunk, he forgot that we’re out of money, I thought to myself.

I laid out the bank account and credit card statements like I was about to give a book report.

“Here, it says we have no money.” I point to our main account, with accusatory fingers. I jam my fingers in his chest.

“YOU spent all of our MONEY.”

My voice filled with rage. He was raising his hands, as if to calm me down. I pointed to the next statement.

“HERE it says you spent it all on BOOZE.” I crumpled the paper up and threw it on the ground.

“WHAT THE FUCK HAVE YOU DONE?” I’m screaming. Throwing all of the statements off of the coffee table. I doubt he’ll even remember this tomorrow. His eyes are glazed over. His cheeks are red.

He’s got me by both of my arms. Holding me. And I feel him shaking. He’s crying. My broke, drunk husband is crying.

Oh no.

And that’s how I found out. He cried his stupid little tears and told me some sob story about a financial situation at work that caused him to lose his license. I’m not sure why I just took his word for it. Maybe it was the tears. Maybe it was because I’d never known him to abuse alcohol like that. For whatever reason, I took his word for it. I forgave him. After all, he lost his career. I felt bad for him. He was supposed to be successful. Now he’ll have to find another job. One that doesn’t require a multi-million dollar law degree. And he’ll have to tell his parents. They’ll be so disappointed. They might even take back some of their money. Except that we don’t have it. We have nothing.

We have my income, technically. Thank God we didn’t have a mortgage. He begged for forgiveness. Even the next day. Hungover and all, he begged me not to leave. He said he needed me. And that things were still going to be OK. He promised to stop drinking. Surrendered his credit cards, all tied to my name. I’m sure my credit is ruined. I’ve been too scared to check.

So, yeah. I gave him the benefit of the doubt. But this was just the beginning. The beginning to a sad, pathetic little story about a wife who’s afraid of her husband.

Click here for Chapter 2.

Stop Asking Me When I’m Gonna Have Kids

Seriously, stop. It’s annoying. Did it ever occur to you that maybe I don’t want them? Maybe I’m not trying to get knocked up?

Hello, I’m 21 years old, what the hell do I need a kid for? Continue reading