When I arrived at the bar she did not acknowledge me at first. I started to apologize for my lateness but she didn’t want to hear it. I made a comment about the fading rainbow décor, wondered if it was left over from Pride. I bought her a beer and a harder drink for myself. No sooner did I have a sip, she blurted, “That fucking Pedro!”
“It wasn’t Pedro…” I said, offended that I had to defend myself from her assumptions again.
But she wouldn’t let me get in a complete sentence. “You could’ve checked in…”
“I know, I know, I’m sorry I got carried away. . .” (What else could I say?) I withered in the lameness of my excuse.
“We have a relationship,” she said, placing extra emphasis on the pronoun “we” as if I had forgotten the fact.
The clinking of our glasses on the bar sounded like a judge’s anvil, rising above the static of voices, TV, music, and every other noise in the place.
I tried to apologize again. “Yes, I’m sorry, there wasn’t a convenient time. . .” I cringed at the words coming out of my mouth. . . how something so true could come off so false.
She narrowed her eyes at me. “Did you enjoy it?”
Was she aware of the catch-22 of her question? If I say yes, I betray her. If I say no, I betray myself. If I lie, she will forever hold it against me and I’ll have to reassure her with more lies.This trap is familiar to cheaters. When cheaters are caught, they often say, “It didn’t mean anything.” Yes it did, you idiot, it meant at the very least that you were sexually attracted to someone else and you acted on that attraction. Think about it: If you murder someone, you can’t tell the prosecution, “It didn’t mean anything,” and expect to be forgiven.
My gut reaction to the absurdity of her question made it impossible to answer. “Joanne, please,” I said. She asked me again. I got up off the stool and walked away toward a bench against the wall.
As soon as I sat down she started making a speech declaring her love and that she did poly for me, and hey everybody… Wait, what? Why is she stepping up onto that chair. . . “Hey everybody, this is my bisexual girlfriend, she only wants to be with me if she can be with guys too!” Then she said some other things that pain me too much to repeat here in writing. And before I knew it I was trying to pull her down. And then she was on the floor, in a pile of broken glass, screaming, “What the fuck? What’s wrong with you?”
Although her words hit me like bullets, and the entire bar seemed to be shooting at me too, I don’t believe there’s actually something wrong with me. Or that there’s anything wrong with her.
Relationship agreements are like allergies. There’s no obvious reason why one person has a violent reaction if her husband holds another woman’s hand in a movie theater, while another, like my ex-girlfriend, explodes when I have sex with someone else in our apartment. Polyamory makes me feel like I’m above cheating because I make my own rules and agreements. But when I break my rules, there’s no one else to blame. Joanne was never totally comfortable with my lifestyle. I needed to end my relationship with her but didn’t know when or how. Along came someone to do it for me.