Stickman Readers' Submissions November 20th, 2014

Et tu, Brute?

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.

William Shakespeare, “Julius Caesar”

I have been reading Woofer’s series entitled The Ides of March and I have to admit I am hooked. His recounting of his experience
with Madame X is as captivating as it is revolting. I can see Woofer picking up her family and taking them to the airport like an obedient dog and I feel a sense of moral superiority. That is until I examine my own life and some of the foolish
things I have done for “love.” While I have never gone so far off the deep end as poor Woofer did, I have swum in the pool and there were a few times when my feet could just barely touch bottom. I have been in a few relationships
that were mercenary by nature and am ashamed to admit that I still find myself daydreaming about what could have been. You see, I don’t think Madame X and her kind are fully to blame for these situations, for their scheming ways, for their
deceptive tactics. I think the fault lays partly with us, the beasts that invite the burden, that allow ourselves to be fooled. We want to believe all the lies, because the truth would hurt more. The truth that we’ve gotten old, lost our
looks, and our desirability. The Madame X’s of the world serve their purpose by making us feel young again, desirable and wanted. It’s easy for them to fool us because we want so badly to believe they speak the truth. We shouldn’t
blame them for telling us what we want to hear; we should blame ourselves for listening. There is an old saying that you can’t cheat an honest man. Well, you can’t fool one either.

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I think we all have a little Woofer in us and if we are honest have all fallen victim to the desires of the heart. My own Madame X was a gorgeous Latina, 22 to my 38, who had me the moment I laid eyes on her. I loved her, maybe still do some 10 years on, and did some crazy things in pursuit of her. She wasn’t a hooker; she was a stripper, so I can claim a bit of moral superiority here. Unless I’m being truly honest and then I’d have to admit that she played many of the same games as Madame X, albeit to a lesser degree. There goes my so-called high moral ground. I fell for some of the tricks, ignored my better judgment with others and finally drew the line before things got out of hand. Like marriage and baby out of hand. Whew. The guy in line after me didn’t fare so well and she was married and pregnant within the year immediately after I was out of the picture. Good riddance you’d think I’d say, dodged that bullet, lucky me. And you’d be right, mostly, except for those late nights when she would call me, her voice thick with wine and affection, saying all the right things about missing me, what could have been and how I was the one, had always been the one. I have to admit it felt good. I felt vindicated, as if my stupidity was somehow validated, making me feel as if it had all been real. She really loved me after all, the new husband and baby notwithstanding. Really?!? “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” (I know, it’s not from Julius Caesar, but it’s still Shakespeare).

As the years passed my feelings for her would subside into the background, until I would get another call out of the blue. They would always come late at night, usually the result of intoxication and some disagreement with the husband. We would talk for hours, reminisce and even discuss the future, or more correctly our future. Together. I know it sounds crazy, probably because it is, but I think I actually believed we might still end up together. Don’t get the wrong idea, I wasn’t sitting at home waiting for her to return. I dated several women during this time and had two relatively serious relationships. But when the phone would ring and I recognized the number, I always picked up. I am ashamed to say that I also met with her on several occasions towards the end of the marriage. I can claim that I did nothing wrong as divorce was looming, but this would only expose my hypocrisy. The fact is she was married and I knew it. My only excuse is that husband was pursuing her for a few months at the end of our relationship and knew about me. Weak, I know, but it gets me through the night.

So how did it turn out? Did we end up happily ever after? Not really, because the fantasy is always better than the reality. Her marriage imploded and she began the divorce process. We spoke often and got together occasionally, but as we live in different cities it was difficult. More importantly, my heart just wasn’t in it. Too much time had passed and too many things had come between us. I guess now that I am older my hearing isn’t as acute and the lies don’t sound as sweet. I still think about her and even miss her at times, but I think this chapter of my life, actually this entire book, is closed. That doesn’t mean I’m done reading though. For the fault really is within myself and I’m sure I will be fooled again and again, if I’m lucky. And should my phone ring late one night, well I might just pick it up, for old times sake and all.

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