The Art of the (Better) Deal

Uh honey. I think I sorta cheated on you last night."

Those were about the first words I heard on Sunday morning.

(Sometime right after, "I hope you're up, because I'm turning onto your street" I knew something was amiss, because my fake husband is NEVER awake before 11 a.m., much less knocking on my door at that hour.)

And right away, you know no good can come of a conversation like this one.

First off, "think?"

You think?

You don't know?

Did you lose consciousness at some point?

Were you drugged?

Second, what does "sorta" mean?

Like, did you slip and fall?

Is "sorta" the adverb Clinton used when he disputed the use of the word "is?"

Also, let's define "cheating."

And that's where it became clear that this was all pretty innocent.

Turns out, some girl had kissed him in a bar.

(That's his story, and he's sticking to it anyway - and it's the same version later provided by his brother who's actually unreliable, because he denied all when first quizzed).

I didn't probe far, beyond telling him it was tacky to kiss strangers in bars.

And that if he was going to try to better-deal me, in public, it'd better be with somebody impressive - because I hate to be pitied. C'mon, I'd at least like to be able to be take some pride in his conquests. I don't want to have to apologize for them.

In fact, the "confession" only came about at all because he'd been observed - by some of our mutual friends - at the bar in question.

Where they'd openly snubbed him after observing his shameless canoodling with this Other Woman.

My best guess is that their standoffishness might have had more to do with their desire to stay out of the line of fire than it did any real loyalty to me, but I still thought it was sweet.

So his first offer on Sunday was to buy brunch, though I told him he was probably going to need to call ahead for a line of credit - since I planned to eat enough to approximate whatever damage I felt he'd done to my reputation by kissing strange girls.

"ONE girl!!" he protested.

"Ohhhhnot when I get done," was my response.

For once, I found myself in the role of the Nice Girl.

The Injured Party.

I plan to make it last.

It's fair to say he and I handle things very differently.

I tend not to divulge such shenanigans in any detail - but there's usually nothing left to confess, because I almost always invite him along where ever I go.

I just assume (possibly naively - as has been suggested to me on more than one occasion) that if I love him, my dates should too.

What I think they sometimes miss is how much and for how long he's paid his dues - stepping up to duties no other man would ever take on. Trust me when I say nobody's lining up for his job. Nobody wants it.

At a minimum, he's earned squatter's rights.

He shows up every single place he's ever needed (doesn't matter if it's a wedding, a baby shower, bris, bar mitzvah, or funeral). He'll wear what he's told. He'll befriend anyone in the room (up to and including any prospective stalkers -his or mine? - doesn't matter).

His name has, in fact- in the last six months - been added to all the invitations that come to my house (just when I'd concluded I would be "Ms. Reeves and Guest" for the rest of my life).

And when I complained about this weekend's attempt to better-deal me, his perfect, halting response was, "well..the best I could hope for is a lateral move."

He's the man I never dreamed existed: a guy who goes out of his way to make my life easier.

How do I repay him? Well, one night last week I nagged him incessantly about something he wore (and selected himself) for the purely shallow reason that I figured I'd get blamed for it.

"He has much nicer things at home," I reassured everyone within hearing distance, followed by, "I did NOT pick this out."

When he brought it up the next day, I asked if I'd made him mad by constantly disavowing any connection to the prior evening's wardrobe choice. "Noooo," he sighed. "I'm mad at myself really."

Then, I almost felt like I was cheating on him last night when I was on the phone with another guy and started to tell him about my day. It just felt... wrong. Dirty, somehow. So I hung up, and called the spouse instead - who I knew I could count on for support laced with sarcasm.

Mainly, I wanted to whine about some mail I'd gotten that suggested I'm only interested in food and boys (after a series of 12 hour days that had left me with zero time or energy for either). After he'd reeled off a reassuring list that was a pretty close approximation of my resume, cataloging every civic, social, academic, and professional accomplishment I'd experienced since birth, he closed indignantly with, "And that's ridiculous anyway. You barely eat enough to keep a bird alive. But I bet if we could find a way to dip a boy in food. That might interest you."

I think I have what a lot of women probably secretly want: a model husband ...who doesn't mind if I date.