It had been a perfect California day. The temperature had stayed in the mid to high eighties, not a cloud in the sky and the beach had been wall to wall with tanned bikini clad hotties. Topping it all off was a magnificent sunset and I sat there and watched till the last sliver of sun disappeared into the Pacific Ocean. I stood up, shook off the sand and then headed for my apartment. I parked the car and got out before I spotted the last person in the world that I wanted to see — my wife Beverly.
It had been almost three years since I had packed my bags and walked away from her; three years during which I had never talked to her on the phone, written her a letter or sent her an email and I didn't want to talk to her now. It looked like I wasn't going to be given a choice. I couldn't get into my apartment without asking her to move which I was pretty sure that she wouldn't do, especially after coming all the way from Denver, and I'd be damned before I'd play the wuss and get back in my car and leave. As I walked toward my door I thought back and remembered all that had brought us to this point.
Bev and I had met in college, dated off and on for four years and then had graduated and gone our separate ways. Two years after graduation we ran into each other at a trade show and picked up where we had left off and a year later we had married.
It wasn't a bad marriage, but it did have its difficulties. Bev and I were both career oriented and driven to achieve success in our chosen fields. That meant that at times we spent less time with each other and more time at work. There were out of town seminars to attend business trips to see clients, trade shows to work and the like. Sometimes we would go weeks without seeing each other. A lot of marriages couldn't have survived under those conditions, but it seemed to work for us.
We were so happy to see each other when we did manage it that we never got around to arguing or having those little domestic spats that other marriages had. The only dark cloud, at least from my perspective, was that Bev was a very sexual woman and I did wonder from time to time if she strayed while she was gone. I didn't think that she did, but I still wondered and I supposed that she might have had the same thoughts about me.
I had been doing real well at my company. My performance reviews almost always had me in the "superior" or "outstanding" category and I had received several very large pats on the back in the way of bonus checks and I had been led to believe that I was on the fast track for promotion to the regional managers position that was going to come open. It didn't happen. The owner's son Randy, a recent college graduate with a degree in Business, but no practical experience, was given the position. I was disappointed, but I was a realist. The company's name was Ferguson and Sons so I guess I should have expected that old man Ferguson would bring his sons into the business someday. Randy should have been brought in at the bottom and allowed to work his way up, but that isn't the way old man Ferguson chose to do it so I had to accept it and work hard to get the next opening.
It wasn't easy because Randy didn't really care for me and he was now my supervisor. I never knew why hid didn't care for me, but it was probably because I was good at my job and he pretty much sucked at his and he probably saw me as a threat. Whenever there was a bad project Randy made sure that it was assigned to me and a couple of times he got caught trying to take credit for my work. Old man Ferguson wasn't blind and he saw what was happening and he called me in the office one day to have a little talk with me.
"I know you are disappointed Rob, but family comes first. Randy is young and a little wild, but he will learn. Just keep doing your job to the best of your ability and things will work out, you'll see."
So I sucked it up, worked hard and waited for the next opportunity. Two years went by and then Randy was made a vice president and the regional manager's job came open again. In my mind I was already planning on how I would redecorate the office when we were called into a meeting and introduced to the new regional manager. Randy had talked his father into giving the job to one of his fraternity brothers from school. I saw Randy smirking as he looked at me during the announcement and it was all I could do to keep from going over to him and pounding him into paste.
Just when I had reached the point where I believed that things were as bad as they could get I got a rude awakening — they got worse. In a surprising development Ferguson and Sons bought the company that my wife worked for and suddenly we were coworkers. It did not turn out to be a good thing. Randy was smitten with my wife and from the time she walked in the door in the morning until she left to go home at night he was never very far away from her. Hovered would be the best word to describe what he did when Bev was around.
He saw to it that Bev was assigned to the projects that he was working, saw to it that she had to work late with him to get this project or that proposal out on time and he even took her along on out of town business trips. Did that have any effect on me? Damned straight it did! It frosted my ass big time, but Bev was a big girl and I trusted her. Besides, she knew that Randy was an asshole; God knows that I'd told her that often enough when telling her about what he had done to me.
About six months went by and then one day at work I asked Bev where she wanted to go for lunch.
"Oh, didn't I tell you? I'm having lunch with Randy today."
"He asked me."
"That's it? He asked you? Is it work related?"
"No, he just asked me to have lunch with him and I accepted."
"A worthless scumbag that I have no use for asked you to lunch and knowing how I feel about that asshole you said yes?"
"Look Rob, just because you don't like him doesn't mean that I have to dislike him. He has never been anything but nice to me."
"That's because he either wants to tweak my nose out of joint or he wants to get into your pants."
I got a murderous look and she said, "And that means I'm going to spread my legs for him? He wants to get in my pants so it is a given that he will? Is that what you are saying to me?"
At that point I realized that anything that I said would only put me deeper in the hole so I turned and walked away from her. That night I left work early and drove home without Bev. She called about ten minutes after I got home.
"Why did you leave without me? How am I supposed to get home?"
"Get a ride from Randy" I barked into the phone and I hung up. I made myself a TV dinner and then settled down on the couch to watch the Rockies play the Arizona Diamondbacks. Bev got home about an hour later and she marched into the living room and turned off the TV.
"Okay Rob, Let's get this out of the way. What have I ever done that would make you distrust me?"
"I don't believe that I ever said that I don't trust you."
"Then what is with this shit that you are pulling on me?"
"Look Bev, you made the choice that has us here snarling at each other. You go on business trips with him and that's business. I don't like it, but it is work related and I keep my mouth shut. You stay late with him and you go in on weekends and work with him, most of the time just the two of you alone, and again I don't like it, but it is work related so I bite my tongue and keep silent.
"Today was not work related. Today was social. Today I asked you were you would like to have lunch with me — your husband, remember? — and you tell me sorry, I'm having lunch with the guy who fucks you every chance he gets and stabs you in the back every chance he gets and I'm supposed to be happy about it?
"You can think whatever you want, feel whatever you want, but today you chose that asshole over me. It may have only been for lunch, but you chose him over me even though you know how I feel about him. You are a big girl Bev and as such you get to do what you want, but having anything to do with Randy if it isn't work related is not going to set well with me and if you don't care about that then you can get used to a lot cooler relationship between the two of us. Now get your ass out of the way so I can watch the game.
Things were not well with us after that. A smart woman would have said, "Whoa, things are getting a little out of hand here and I'd better put things right with my hubby" but that wasn't Bev's way. Her way was, "Tell me who I can have lunch with? Well we will just see about that." She started having lunch with Randy two and three times a week. I stopped talking to her except when I was at work and had something work related to say. One morning I got up early and left without her and from then on we took separate cars to work every day and then one night I got home and moved myself into the spare bedroom. When it was time to go to bed that night Bev asked, "What's this?"
"You insist on spending your time with that asshole so you have picked up his stink and I don't want to have to smell it."
I went into the spare bedroom and locked the door behind me. Bev pounded on the door, "Rob, let me in damn it, we have to talk."
"No we don't Bev. You made your choice. You showed me that what I think doesn't mean shit to you and you are having a great time rubbing my nose in it so live with what it got you."
She beat on the door for another three or four minutes but I ignored her and eventually she went to bed. I know I was being a bit of an asshole about the situation, but Bev just couldn't or wouldn't understand just how much I had come to detest Randy and what her associating with him was doing to me.
The very next day at work I was in the storeroom getting an ink cartridge for my printer. The storeroom shares a common wall with the room that has the copy machines and I overheard Bill Bradley talking to Mike Zimmer.
"Notice how sexy Bev is looking today?"
"How could you miss it? No wonder that Randy is fucking her every chance he gets."
"No shit? Randy is really putting the meat to her?"
"Well, I've never seen it, but Randy has hinted at it even though he has never come right out and said so."
"Then it is probably just bullshit."
"I don't know about that. Consider the evidence. He takes her on all of his business trips and before she came to work here he never took anyone on trips with him. They stay late to work on projects, or so they say, but did Randy ever worry about meeting a deadline and work late to meet it before she came on board? And what about all those long lunches they take. Ever notice that "Cat that ate the canary" grin when they get back? Oh he's fucking her all right."
"Oh wow, you think Rob knows?"
"I doubt it. If he did know I think he would rip Randy's throat out."
"Well if Randy is fucking her maybe there is hope for the rest of us."
"You would be happy with Randy's sloppy seconds?"
"With Bev? Hell yes and so would you," and they laughted as they walked out of the room.
I wondered if Bev was letting Randy fuck her. I did know that I felt humiliated when the people in the office looked at me and I knew what they were thinking. I didn't know it at the time but that overheard conversation was the beginning of the end for Bev and me.
Two days later Bev came up to me and asked me to have lunch with her.
"Randy not available?"
"I want to have lunch with you Rob, please?"
We walked across the street to the little Mexican place and after we ordered Bev said, "What can we do to get us back on track?"
"I don't see that there is anyway to do that. There is no, repeat no, give in my position on this. I have not tried to get you to quit your job and I have not once whined about the work related time you spend with Randy, but it chaps my ass when you spend one minute in his company if it is not work related. You, on the other hand, are too bull- headed to stop seeing him for lunch or sitting with him in the break room during coffee breaks because that would mean giving in to me and your pride will not let you do that."
"You are being totally unreasonable about this Rob. It isn't like I'm stopping after work for drinks with him and not coming home until late. It is just lunch for God's sake."
"That's what you say, but that's not what everyone in the office believes."
"What does that mean?"
"Don't you pay any attention to what goes on around you at work? When you come back from lunch with that asshole don't you see him walk past my desk and look at me with a smirk on his face? Don't you see the 'thumbs up' that he gives the guys by the water cooler when he gets off the elevator with you? Like he is just back from the motel where you had a quickie? Don't you notice how it suddenly gets silent when I walk into the break room and you are sitting with Randy and how when I approach a group of guys they suddenly scatter? Do you have any idea of how humiliated that makes me feel?"
"Are you telling me that you believe I'm sleeping with him?"
"I'm saying that I don't know, but I haven't seen anything to convince me that you're not."
I told her of the conversation that I'd overheard, "So even if you aren't sleeping with him everyone believes that you are and "Mr. He has never been anything but nice to me" is going out of his way to make them think that."
"I don't believe that for a minute Rob. If he were doing what you say he would be trying to make it true and he hasn't done anything along those lines."
I looked at her and shook my head and got up from the table.
"Where are you going? We need to talk this out."
"No way we can do that Bev. You just called me a liar. No sense in wasting my breath if you aren't going to believe anything that I say."
I threw some money on the table and went back to work. For the next two days Bev tried to get me to sit down and talk with her but I was still stung by her intimating that I was lying to her and I ignored her.
And then suddenly she stopped trying to talk to me. A
week went by and we didn't even acknowledge each other's existence and I came to accept that our marriage was not going to survive.