An Average Descent

byJidoka©

The years had not been kind to her. She had gained at least 20 pounds and she had deep wrinkles around her lips and other telltale signs of smoking. That was a new development. All in all she just looked old and worn out. But underneath it all I still saw the women who I had given my heart to. I felt nothing for her, but I saw her.

She sat alone, in the bride's section of the church, near the back. Her interaction with my daughter had been brief, cordial but distant. She never made any attempt to talk to me. We were never closer than 30 feet to each other until the end of the night. She was outside waiting for a cab. When I saw it on her finger, I smiled for the first time in some time. Maybe she had had done better than me, if the small gold band and minuscule diamond on her left ring finger were any indication. I wandered towards her, staring at it for several moments.

When I looked up to meet her eyes, there was a deep sadness behind her gaze.

"For the record...you ruined my life first."

I looked down at her left hand, then back into her eyes.

"I am glad you found someone. I hope he makes you happy."

I walked quickly to my car. My driver had bad been waiting attentively.

"Good evening, Mr. Smith. I hope you had a pleasant evening, sir. Are we off to the club?"

"It went as well as I could have hoped for, Jonathon. Let's head straight back to the house. I think I would like to be alone tonight."

"Certainly, sir."

As we pulled away, I tried my best not to look back. But I did catch her brief wave. Goodbye.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Michael Smith was not a hunk. At first glance there was nothing remarkable about him. But he was really sweet and nice looking and smart. And he was different from other guys.

Our first meeting occurred on probably the worst night of my college life. My sorority sisters had ditched me in the middle of a fraternity mixer to go blow a couple of douche bag frat boys. They promised that we would stick together for the night, but had leapt at the first chance to slut around with anyone in the popular crowd. I spent two hours waiting for them, getting hit on and groped by a bunch of drunk assholes, when he finally came up to me.

Michael was looking right into my eyes. He politely introduced himself and made small talk for a few moments. He was almost whispering. But his eyes never left mine. After a short while he left.

"I have really enjoyed talking to you, Jennifer. I would like to take you to coffee sometime. Here is my name and number if you are interested. Thanks for talking to me. It has been the highlight of my semester."

I admit that I almost didn't call him. I waited just over a week before I decided what the heck.

We met for coffee. He asked me all kinds of questions. I found he was very easy to talk to. It was during that first conversation that I discovered what made him unique. His exterior was quiet and unassuming. He wasn't bad looking. He was maybe even a little bit handsome. But he was brilliant. That was clear. He could speak on any subject and was well versed on every topic I threw his way. He said he was a computer science major, but he clearly could have chosen any number of fields. We started talking about my classes, especially the ones I was struggling with, more specifically ancient philosophy. I was majoring in business with a minor in advertising. Unfortunately, I had put off taking several of my least favorite electives and was having a bit more trouble than I had hoped.

Michael's eyes never wandered. Like our first meeting, he looked right into my eyes the entire time we were speaking. His motive was clear. He was genuinely interested in me, as a person. I was flattered.

He suggested that we study together at the student union or the library. So three days later we were together again. I wouldn't have called it studying. Advanced tutoring would be a better description. Michael spent three hours at the library on a Friday night giving me the help I needed to pass my philosophy exam. When I didn't understand something he apologized for his teaching methods and tried something different. He was so patient. He never made me feel stupid when I didn't understand.

I could feel his excitement through the phone when I called him to tell him that I passed my exam the next Tuesday. I could tell he was proud of me. He wouldn't accept any praise for helping me saying that he was actually being selfish trying to spend time with me and that it was the most enjoyable time he had spent on campus.

I found out about some of the other ways Michael was not like most other guys. During the week, he was singularly focused on his studies. There were definitely no parties, absolutely no drinking and nothing that could be considered a distraction. At first I found it annoying. But it grew on me. During the next several weeks, we never went on what I would consider an actual date but he called every day just to talk to me and see how I was doing. He left me notes to let me know he was thinking of me. We still met for coffee or at the library, and once or twice shared a quick lunch.

When we were together, he continued to ask questions about me and my family, my interests, my dreams. If I asked him questions he was open and honest. Once, I asked him if he was afraid of anything. It was my go to question on dates. I read somewhere in a magazine that it was a good question to see how much trust someone put in you. I was prepared for the one of typical frat boy answers. In the past they had ranged from 'nothing' to 'that I will have left college without partying as much as I should have'. Michael just sat quietly for a minute while staring into space. Then he looked me in the eye and spoke.

"I am afraid I won't be a very good father. I was an only child. My mother and father both died when I was in high school, but we were never very close. I lived with my uncle until I graduated. He was quite the womanizer and we had very little in common. I think he was relieved when I left for college. I want to be married. I want children. But I don't have any experience being part of a loving, supportive family. I want to be a good father, but I am afraid that I won't know how."

When he stopped talking I think he was looking for some type of response.

"Too much?" he asked.

"No, Michael. Not too much. Just enough."

About four weeks into our relationship Michael asked me if I had Saturday open. I told him I did, and he told me he would stop by the sorority around lunch time. The days leading up to that Saturday were strange. I kept asking Michael what he had planned. He wouldn't tell me. My sorority sisters kept smiling at me and whispering. I was on edge when he finally arrived. He was dressed in maroon and sky blue. Three of his fraternity brothers were similarly dressed and were carrying a large cooler and two giant warming trays with food. Michael had a DVD in one hand and a West Ham jersey for me in the other and a big smile on his face.

He asked me to show him the house's great room. When we turned the corner the majority of the house was dressed in West Ham colors and started a chant. I was shocked.

Once, for a total of maybe thirty seconds, I had been complaining that I had missed my family's trip to England. I had a distant cousin who had made the roster of a club team, West Ham United, and my family had planned a trip to London to watch him play. Unfortunately, the trip landed during a very important test week for me, and I couldn't go. I was really disappointed and shared that with Michael.

He had a friend from the local sports bar record a West Ham game off of their satellite. He had researched the team chants, taught them to his friends and my sorority sisters, and watched the game to know when he should start them. He and his friends had brought a few cases of English ale and made fish and chips. While the game played, we sang and drank and cheered. He made everyone quiet down in the 72nd minute and told me to pay attention to the screen. I was able to watch my cousin score his first premier league goal, tape delayed of course. No one else in my family would be able to say that.

It was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for me. When it was over, he and his friends cleaned up the mess, and were on their way. Michael said he would call me later. I was left alone to fend off the teasing about the dreamy look in my eyes. It was worth it.

Our phone calls and notes and coffees continued for a couple more weeks, until one day while I was sipping on a latte I noticed that he seemed extremely nervous.

"Is everything OK, Michael?"

"What? Oh, yes, yes. Of course. I was just wondering, uh, if you had any plans for Friday night? And if you were free, um, if you would have any interest in going to dinner with me. Well, like a date...with me...on Friday."

"I would love to go to dinner with you, Michael."

The look of relief on his face was surprising. It was quickly replaced with one of the widest smiles I had ever seen. It was on his face while he finished his coffee, as we were walking out the door and when he turned around to give me one last wave as he went to class. I could see it from almost a block away.

From that moment everything was the perfect whirlwind of love and romance and friendship. I did better in school than I ever had. I was having more fun than at any other time in my life. People treated me differently, too. I was more comfortable being myself, the woman that Michael loved, and I think people were drawn to that.

I will say that being around Michael was like getting a daily ego vitamin. He may have always sold himself short, but he was never shy about describing me in glowing terms. The reality of it was probably just the opposite. Michael was a reasonably good looking guy who was in shape if not even a little athletic. He was always well groomed, bordering on stylish. He was personable and well liked, but he was a little shy around new people. I can say without a doubt he was always the smartest person in the room, professors included, and everyone knew it. But with a casual demeanor he shunned the spotlight and attention to spend time with me. He would often tell me he was just an average guy who had won the lottery when he met me.

I would describe myself as cute. My friends would describe me as cute. My family would describe me as cute. I had always been a little self conscious about my appearance and my body. It was hard not to be. Some of my sorority sisters were gorgeous, with model good looks and the bikini bodies to match. But it was hard not to feel like I had something special looking at myself through Michael's eyes. I can sum it up by saying that the longer I was with Michael the more cherished I felt.

I was over the moon with happiness when graduation came calling. One of the silly end of year rituals at the sorority was the husband potential game. As one of the few sisters without a long term boyfriend, I had never been able to participate. For a large group of alumni, this was their favorite event and it was always well attended. It was simple enough. Each sister went before the gathered alumni, alone, and was able to give either a positive or negative example of another sister's boyfriend during the previous year. The winner was the sister who's boyfriend had the most positive responses.

I can't say I was completely shocked at the result, but I was a little bit. For the first time in the 29 year history of the event my Michael had received all positive responses. One from every sister. I had never been more proud, and was a little disappointed that, because of tradition, I wouldn't be able to tell him of his victory.

Three days later, I did find a way to give him an appropriate reward.

The day after graduation, Michael drove me home. I was from Chicago and Michael had been offered a job there. We spent the four hour drive holding hands and talking. We stopped for a quick breakfast and a quick make out session. We arrived in front of my childhood home just before lunch. Michael spent the next two hours charming the pants off my parents.

I was a little surprised when he asked if he could buy my dad a beer. They were gone before I even had a chance to object. My mom was smiling through her misty eyes.

"Oh, Jennifer, that one is a keeper."

"Believe me mom. I KNOW."

Michael and Dad were smiling and laughing all the way to the front door when they finally returned two hours later. Michael told me he would be back to pick me up for dinner after he checked into his hotel, he said a quick goodbye to my parents and then he was off. He told me latter he had asked my father for permission to marry me.

That night was an evening I will never forget. It was magical. After a wonderfully romantic Italian dinner, Michael proposed to me on the Sky Deck of the Willis Tower. It was a beautiful clear evening and the lights of the Chicago skyline almost matched the glow in my heart.

Going through college a virgin had always been a slight source of embarrassment. I am certain I was the only sorority sister left in the house who was. But that night, it was a precious gift. Part of a matching set. Michael gave himself to me that night. I could feel it. He treasured my virginity in a way that only he could. He was patient, and loving, and gentle. He built a magnificent a wave of love and lust, then swept me away in it. I couldn't have dreamed of a more perfect sexual encounter much less a first time experience.

I knew that Michael was also a virgin, with very little experience with the opposite sex. In the glow of my post orgasmic state, I asked where he had learned to be such a fantastic lover. As humbly as he had ever been he whispered to me.

"I read. A LOT."

***

Our lives were damn near perfect. Michael had a started a good job immediately after graduation. He kept getting promoted and kept me happier than ever. I don't mean to gloss over those years as a means to diminish their importance to me. I couldn't find the words to express how happy I was for the first decade of our lives together. I would be completely inadequate in describing how having children completed my life. I am not providing the details of those years because they had nothing to do with my downfall. In fact sharing those years with you would only confuse you about the motives that led to my downfall.

I know my mistake, no, I better make that mistakes. I know why I fell. I didn't trust Michael enough.

One of the things I loved most about Michael was the fact that he never hid his vulnerability from me. He shared his whole being with me, almost most importantly his insecurities. He never hid from me.

For a long time, I had nothing to hide. My life was a fairy tale. My family was beautiful.

Michael never treated me as anything other than full fledged partner. I was involved in every decision that affected our lives. It didn't matter that he made five times as much as me, or was better with our finances, he always looked to me for advice and consent. It mostly made me feel special, but sometimes it made me feel inadequate, like I wasn't holding up my end of the bargain.

I never shared that with Michael. If I had, I never would have destroyed my life. He would have helped me. I know it. He loved me so much. He would have helped me feel whole.

That tiny insecurity grew and grew over the years. Maybe it festered. Whatever the case, by the time kids were in school I was lost in my own skin. I felt I needed something different, to give me an independent purpose. I was not looking for a lover, not by any means. I loved my husband. I was more than satisfied in the bedroom. Our sex life was passionate if maybe just a little bit on the safe side. That was mostly my fault. I knew that my husband wanted to be a bit more...experimental is probably the best word, but I just figured why mess with a good thing.

No, what I wanted was to feel like an equal, not just get treated like one. So I found a job and announced that I was taking it. I had it all worked out. I was fully prepared to defend my reasons for wanting a job. Our argument lasted four seconds.

"I think that sounds great, Jennifer. Whatever makes you happy."

And it worked. I had solved my problem. All on my own. I didn't need any help. The pure vanity of my thinking those first few months would make me vomit later on. But at the time it was exhilarating. I felt like I could take on the world as an independent confident woman.

The mood in our office could best be described as flirtatious. At its worst it could have easily been called a den of debauchery. My coworkers, men and women alike, were young and bold and vivacious. There were several inter office flings happening. As an outsider it seemed as though they were empowered by their sexuality. There were no relationships going on. Just sex for the sake of sex. No one seemed to hide it or think there was anything wrong with it.

My boss may have been the worst of the bunch. Allen Henderson was a reasonably good looking guy, though not really my type. People were always teasing him about his inability to keep a girlfriend and congratulating him on his latest conquest.

I didn't jump into bed with the first guy who hit on me. In fact I shot him down. Hard. But it did start making me to wonder if Michael and I were missing something in our sex life. Our friend group was pretty reserved when it came to sex. There had never been a single conversation in our neighborhood that even came close to the daily barrage I heard at the office.

After our first company Christmas party, when I introduced Allen to Michael, my life was changed forever. I could tell they didn't like each other even though they pretended to get along quite well. I stopped talking to Michael about my job and I never mentioned Allen. I could tell that my work and boss bothered him. After that night, I could tell things were different around the office, too. Allen started giving me a lot of attention, praising my work in front of people and asking me how I was feeling.

He started asking me to share lunch with him. We always talked at great length about our latest project. He started asking my opinion more and more. Then he would ask a few personal questions and we would be done and back to work. He also started complimenting me on my appearance using words like sexy and provocative. Looking back he worked on me for months and I foolishly ate it up.

I don't remember the exact series of events that led to being half naked with Allen fucking me on top of his desk after everyone else had left for the day. It with the deepest sorrow that I admit I enjoyed every minute of it. Allen's skillful seduction had left me feeling desired. An emotion I felt had long passed.

Years later, when I analyzed my behavior, I realized the totality of my betrayal. I didn't feel like Michael desired me because I didn't give him anything to desire. I knew the type of man he was. He was never going to do anything to make me feel uncomfortable. I was his true partner and his cherished lover, not his fuck buddy. But he was very perceptive. The slightest indication on my part would have been enough. Any implication that I wanted something different would have had dramatic effects. A painful review of my marital life revealed that clearly Michael had gently probed for any opening to ratchet up our sex life and I ignored him. We had oral sex, but I never dropped to my knees and sucked his dick. I had dressed in beautiful lingerie, but I never dropped my panties, bent over the couch and begged him to fuck me. And I never let him have my ass. Not once.

I am morbidly ashamed to admit I did all those things and much more for Allen. I was a slut for him and I loved it.

I was in way too deep with Allen before I recognized the truth. I had given Allen the gift of my anal virginity on his birthday. He treated me in the manner that I deserved. He fucked me like a whore. I give him a gift and he used it. It was painful. The contrast to Michael was startling, and changed my thinking almost immediately. Allen didn't love me and I was making a terrible mistake. I told Allen our affair was over the very next day. He laughed at me and shoed me out of his office.

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