“They call it signal red.” Billy was trying to enlighten me about the finer characteristics of vintage cars, something that wasn’t exactly on my day-to-day radar. This was after explaining, “I like the red better than the green one.” I laugh about it now because I know nothing about cars. But as fate would have it, my brother crashed his Cayenne that morning. I forwarded Billy the photos knowing he would cringe looking at the twisted heap of metal. He quickly responded, “Oh man, that sucks. He must be so bummed.”
“He looked down at his phone to read a map, rear-ended some lady. 50k of work and they haven’t even gotten to the frame yet.”
“Ouch! That’s gotta hurt.”
“Don’t feel bad for him. He can afford it.”
We stayed up talking till 1:00 a.m. that night. It wasn’t a regular habit of ours. But that is the night I shared the story of my husband cheating. He was genuinely saddened to hear that, as he met my husband and thought he was a really cool guy. As an outsider looking in, we make a striking couple, accomplished and successful with a few kids thrown in for good measure. But I shattered that vision when I bared my darkest secret.
“That’s a tough position to be in. I’m sorry. Tough feeling like you don’t quite have a choice because of the kids.” I countered, “He’s doing everything he can to keep me.” Billy waited a second then replied, “As he should. You’re a keeper for sure.”
Fast forward to the night of the party…At 3:00 a.m. my husband went to bed, leaving me with a small group of friends, Billy included. We sat on the outdoor lounge furniture side by side. He showed me his crooked finger, the one that got broken so severely in a college basketball game that it no longer lays flat with the rest of them. Billy told me about all his surgeries. But I didn’t realize how bad it was until I saw it for myself. I touched his hand, moving it about, trying to figure out how the surgeon did such a horrible job of resetting his bones. He didn’t get his money’s worth, that’s for sure. For several seconds, I didn’t want to let it go. It was the only moment I had to touch him and I wanted to savor it for as long as I could.
The next day, my husband left. We previously arranged that I would spend the morning helping Laura clean up. You know, get her house back in order from the party. As Laura and I started to wash dishes, my mind wandered to the previous night. I kept thinking back to the garage and I really wanted to talk to Billy. I wanted to apologize for putting him in that situation.
I messaged him, hoping he would meet me. “Billy, I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have put you in that situation last night. It was wrong. Can we talk? Either I come to you, you come to Laura’s or we meet at a coffee place?”
And you know what happened? Nothing. Total crickets. He was mute (although I could see he had read the message).
So I upped the ante and sent him a photo of my red bra and matching lace thong. I wasn’t actually wearing it people. Come on. It was just a photo of the actual lingerie, which for me was pretty brazen at the time. You could say, it was the first sexy photo I had ever sent a man. In my life. As in ever. I know such a prude eh? But don’t you worry, what I lacked in frequency, I more than made up for it with CEO (and those college photography classes certainly came in hand–it’s about angles people!).
With my heart racing, I hit send with the following message, “Billy, don’t push me away too. Unless…you don’t want my version of signal red in your life.”
Finally! He coyly responded, “I do like that red.”
“But you’re married and that’s a bit heavy for me. I’ve been down this road before. And I can’t do it again. Remember at the reunion, you asked why I was single? Well the girl I told you about at the bar? You know, the one I pushed away–Anna? She left her husband and I was the shoulder to cry on. I can’t do it again.”
“I don’t need your shoulder Billy. You’re not responsible for the demise of my marriage, that happened two years ago. I’m stronger now, ready to tackle this head on and leave my husband.” My heart was pounding as we typed a flurry of responses back and forth.
“Billy, I really wanted to say this face to face. Not over email. Not like this. What I wanted to know was….Do you feel what I feel too? I’m not looking for an affair. You deserve better than that. You deserve all of me. I need time to wind down my marriage. I guess what I wanted to know was…would you wait for me?”