Thanks to the knee doctor for editing help and medical tech support.
I hate my life. My wife is a shrew and my daughter is her clone. My son was so disgusted with my refusal to deal with any of it, that he left home as soon as he was eighteen. He knew what was going on, and wanted no part of it. My daughter knew what her mother was like, and decided she wanted to be just like mommy. I pitied my daughter's poor husband.
I knew I made a mistake before my first wedding anniversary. Mildred seemed to think she was more attractive than she really was, and was constantly flirting to reinforce her self-image. The trouble was, it didn't stop at flirting. Apparently, she didn't think there was anything wrong with screwing other men, as long as I didn't know about it. The big trouble was, I always knew. For twenty-six years, I have known, and for twenty-six years, I have said nothing. I guess it is easy to see why my son left.
The big question is, of course, why didn't I leave? I wish I had a good answer. I didn't like what my wife was doing and I didn't condone it. I was just too lazy, or complacent to do anything about it. I was getting my meals cooked, my laundry done, and my house cleaned. Mildred never denied me sex, and often initiated it. She was a nag and a real bitch, but I had learned to tune it out. I believed that I had no alternatives.
Unfortunately, I was an average type of guy. My hair was receding a little, I needed bifocals, and I was about twenty pounds overweight. The extra weight wasn't muscle, just belly flab. I was in the same job for twenty-six years also. It was boring, and I was at a dead end, career wise. The young kids were smarter than me and had more ambition. I worked just to put food on the table. I had no savings, no retirement plan, and the only insurance was what the company offered. We never even bought a home. We rented our house from my wife's brother. My future was as bleak as my past. Life sucks.
Mildred held up a little bit better than I did. She did some kind of exercises on a regular basis. She also watched her weight better than I did. She had to stay in shape, so she could pick up guys.
Now I don't want to make things sound worse than they really were. Mildred was not going out and constantly picking up guys to have sex with. She was discreetly having affairs. It was only one guy at a time, and maybe only one or two different ones each year. I don't know if they ended up dumping her or vice-versa. I really didn't care. At least she had the decency to never bring them to the house.
I never had any interest in other women. I did get hit on a few times over the years, but I just laughed it off. I was sure they would have been disappointed if I had responded to their flirting. It seemed like too much trouble to me.
My daughter, Julie, was married to a milk-toast type of guy. Who am I to throw stones? She probably picked him, because he reminded her of me. Shortly after the wedding they had twins: beautiful little girls. They were adorable, but I couldn't help thinking they would end up like their mother and grandmother. What a shame.
The only high point in my life was my secretary, Joyce, and our company mail boy, Rodney. Joyce wasn't actually my secretary, because she took care of six reps in the office. I just felt like she took better care of me than she did the other five guys. Rodney was my ray of sunshine. I liked him because he had a good attitude. He never complained about anything and always had a smile for me. I don't know if he aspired for much, career wise, but he seemed to enjoy what he was doing. Joyce and Rodney were pretty close around the office, and always seemed to be sharing gossip and some type of daily joke. I looked forward to spending my day with them, as much as I looked forward to getting away from my wife. Joyce and I had been working together for thirteen years, and I still didn't know much about her. The two most important things that I did know were that she was single, and she hated my wife. I never got too nosy about the reasons behind either one of those facts.
Things got interesting one day when my daughter, Julie, barged into the office to announced that she had just enrolled the twins in a scoliosis research study. It seems that both of the girls had slight curvatures of the spine. Since genetic scoliosis is hereditary, several groups had obtains big government grants to study how it is passed on from generation to generation. She carefully explained how it can affect the heart, as well as other medical problems, some life threatening. I could tell that she was extremely concerned. Part of the research involved studies of the genetic backgrounds of the family of the test subjects. Julie very proudly presented me with a small padded envelope that contained a small plastic bottle, and instructions on how to spit in the bottle, and put the cap on. I always thought they used cotton swabs and took samples from your cheek. The envelope was pre-paid and pre-addressed. All daddy had to do, was follow the instructions. She thanked me for agreeing to help, and she left smiling.
"What did the spawn of the devil want?" Joyce was bringing me a fresh cup of coffee as an excuse to pry.
"She enrolled the kids in a scoliosis study of some type and needs my DNA. You shouldn't speak so harshly about my wife."
"I thought you did those DNA tests four or five years ago."
"I did. It was through the company medical program."
"Weren't those tests good enough?"
"They don't even know I did them. I was just checking to make sure the kids were mine, before I made out my new will."
"I can understand why that would be a concern." Joyce had a big smile on her face. She seemed to get great enjoyment out of insulting Mildred, every chance she got. "Well, don't keep me in suspense. Are you the father or not?"
"Julie and Jason are both my children. What more can I say?"
"With luck like that, you should play the lottery."
"There is nothing wrong with Jason. He was just fed up with the whole situation, and pissed that his dad didn't make it right. Joyce. You have to stop putting Mildred down all the time."
"Sorry boss. I just can't help myself. Are you going to pee in the bottle?"
"It's spit, Joyce. They want me to spit in the bottle."
As if on cue, Rodney walked into the office, with the daily delivery of mail and memos.
Joyce's eyes lit up. "Rodney, baby you are just in time. John needs you to spit in this bottle for him."
I think Rodney was just as surprised at Joyce's remark as I was. I realized that this study was important, but all of a sudden what Joyce said seemed like a great idea. I handed Rodney the vial, and Joyce and I both watched as he carefully put his DNA inside.
"The label on the bottle says, "John Ritter". I don't mind doing this as long as you two guys keep me out of trouble."
"No way, Rodney. John and I will make sure you don't." Joyce dropped the bottle into the envelope and sealed it. "I'll see that this gets in the mail today boss." She was smiling ear to ear as she walked out of my office. Rodney looked perplexed.
"You know she is sweet on you, Mister Ritter."
"Joyce always says nice things about you and I see her looking at you when you don't notice. She said a couple of times that she wished you weren't married."
I always thought of Joyce and me as friends, but I never considered that she was interested in a different type of relationship. I was flattered by what Rodney said, and I realized I was smiling to myself. Joyce would make a hell of a better companion than Mildred. I decided I better pay more attention to what was going on.
"Thanks for the help Rodney. I'll see you again this afternoon."
Things went on as normal for the next few weeks. I was trying to be a little more attentive to Joyce after hearing what Rodney said. I thought it was odd that my secretary had a higher opinion of me than my wife did. For the first time, in my married life I was seeing some reason to consider a divorce. I have always been very complacent about my marriage. The more attention I paid to Joyce, the nicer she was to me. I liked that arrangement.
On Friday afternoons, I usually tried to sneak out of work a little early. No special reason, just something I started to do years ago, and saw no reason to stop. No one ever seemed to complain. I got home, plopped myself into my easy chair, and heard my wife and daughter arguing in the kitchen. It was evident that they had no idea I was home. It was a strain, but I was able to pick up bits and pieces of the conversation.
"No, Julie, I have no idea who it could be. I was sure it was your father."
"My father? Damn it, Mom. This is not my father." I assumed at this point she had gotten the DNA results back and was holding them. "I have no idea who my father is, and to make matters worse, my own mother has no idea who he is."
There was a lot of mumbling and confusion when both of them were talking at the same time, but I could still get some of it.
"They can't even put a name to this DNA sample. It is not in any database of any type. If you can't help me, who the hell can?"
I was getting a kick out of hearing my daughter browbeat her mother. Paybacks are hell. It would have been nice to get all of the conversation, but I had to be satisfied with a portion of it. For the next few minutes, I could not make out what was being said. The last thing I heard was something about another test on Tuesday morning, and the door slamming as Julie left. Sooner or later I would have to tell them the truth, but for now, I was savoring the moment.
.... There is more of this story ...