I cant believe he did that, said my wife
"Neither can I.
We were talking about what had happened with our next-door
neighbors, Mary and Jack Robbins. Wed been scheduled to go out to dinner
with them the night before. Mary had called Eleanor in the morning with the
news that Jack had left her. He said hed fallen in love with another
woman, a fellow teacher at his college. Mary had gathered that the fellow
teacher was younger, possibly much younger. Eleanor had of course immediately
gone over to see Mary. When she came back, she reported that Mary was in shock
and couldnt stop crying.
What Jack had done was hard to believe but I couldnt help
thinking that Mary had put on a lot of weight in the last few years. For that
matter, Eleanor had spread out herself, but not nearly as much. A younger
woman. I pictured her as slim and pretty.
Hes destroyed his family, said Eleanor.
The Robbins had two children, a boy and a girl, just as we did.
Although Mary and Jack were about the same age as we were, theyd married
earlier so their children were older, the son in college and the daughter a
high school senior. I wouldnt have said that Jack had destroyed his
family; the kids were old enough to adjust. Still, he hadnt done them any
Whats Mary going to do?
She doesnt know. Theyll get a divorce
eventually, I suppose. He left his wife and kids and for what? A fling with
Shes a college teacher, I said.
That doesnt matter. Shes a floozie to have
gone after Jack. Look at how old he is.
Hes the same age as I am. And hes in much
better shape. All that tennis.
Yes, I wish youd exercise more.
It was after breakfast. Wed moved to the patio with our
coffees. I looked at the back lawn. It needed mowing. The shrubs needed
pruning, also. And the gutters needed cleaning out before the next rain.
I get enough exercise around here. Where are the kids?
Playing outside somewhere. Dont forget, we have two
soccer games tomorrow.
Yes. Dont you remember, Kyle had a rainout.
Hes a rat. I assumed she was referring to
Jack, not to Kyle. Its probably a middle-aged crisis thing. I hope
youre not going to have one.
I didnt reply to this.
I hope she takes him for all he has.
Hes a college professor; he cant have that
Well, at least shell have the house. I still
dont know how he could have done it. Ill call her later. She
stood up. Are you through with your coffee?
She took the cups back to the kitchen and I could hear water
running in the sink. Eleanor didnt like dirty dishes laying around. Well,
Id better get to the days work. I stood up. I understood that Jack
had done, what to a woman like Eleanor, seemed an incomprehensible thing. A
middle-aged guy throwing away his wife and family. But maybe the thrill of
having an affair had been enough for Jack. She was young and new and now
hed have a new life, leaving behind the suburban life, the kids, the
chores, the boring routine of things. I would never do what Jack had done. For
one thing, I imagined that that the new life would soon become as routine as
the old one. Still, I had had my thoughts. I went into the garage and got out
the lawn mower.