Dateland: My Cheating Heart

By Jennifer Parello February 21, 2013

Categories: Dating & Relationships, Our Lives

I’ve been cheating for almost two years. And, last week, I was finally discovered.

It was a Monday night, an evening that my girlfriend and I rarely spend together. She has her kid on Mondays at her place in the city. And I’m at home in a small resort town about 60 miles away. Or so I’ve led her to believe.

Actually, most Mondays, I’m in the city, too. Leading a secret life.

That life revolves around my illicit love affair with certain women. They are beautiful! Fascinating! Talented!
And many of them are dead.
They are named Ethel! Judy! Doris! Rosemary! Ella! Lena! Billie! Barbra! Bette! Liza!

Yes, I spend my Mondays in the company of hundreds of gay boys, singing showtunes as loudly and joyfully as my voice and heart can handle.

And my girlfriend knew nothing of my dirty secret until last Monday. She almost never calls me on Monday nights, because she’s typically preoccupied with her son. But this past week, when I came home happily exhausted and still giddy from an evening of communal singing, I was welcomed by an answering machine (yes, I still have one) blinking its red light in near hysterics.

The first message was calm and loving. She was simply checking in and asking me to return the call. By the 6th message, her voice had escalated into a scream and she was threatening to call local hospitals. Her 12th and final message was full of accusations, paranoia, and a righteous reevaluation of our entire relationship. It ended with her saying, in weary resignation, “You’re either dead or having an affair. I’m not sure which one I’m more in favor of at this point.”

So, you can imagine her confusion when I finally returned her calls at midnight and made my confession.

“Is that why you always sound so hoarse on Tuesdays?” she asked. “Why have you kept this from me?”

Because, I responded, I like to have a secret.

Like many people, I do not come by intimacy naturally. In past relationships, I’d buck violently whenever anyone got too close and would immediately begin looking for ways to destroy the connection. I rarely did this in the normal way of having an affair or escaping into a bottle.  Rather, I’d turn to some weirdo pursuit like obsessive tournament bridge play or become overly involved in a fringe group devoted to rescuing baby sloths with mange. Anything to distance myself from a person who was only attempting to love me.

I tried the same tactics with this relationship. But after four years, my girlfriend—a hardy Maine girl who is not easily discouraged—managed to break me. After a lot of madly disrupting behavior on my part, I finally submitted to her caretaking and love. But I still needed an outlet—a little something on the side to remind me that I had some semblance of independence. And, so I turned to singing.

Some claim (but I don’t agree!) that I have the worst voice in history—a true tragedy given my love for musical theater. But when I’m surrounded by a gaggle of frustrated gay-boy thespians, I can sing as loudly and badly as I like, confident that they’re only interested in hearing their own fabulous voices soar above the crowd, and not concerned with judging mine.

“You can keep singing on Mondays,” my girlfriend said. “At least it might keep you from singing in the house.”

“But it was my last secret,” I said.

“Did you ever think you don’t need a secret anymore?” she asked. I agreed, because I knew that would make her happy. But then I got on the web and searched for a baby sloth group that needed new leadership.

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