Friday, April 24, 2009

The Secrets of Suburbia

As many eagle-eyed 19 Thoughts readers already know, there has been a change here. To the right of this column under the “About Me” heading no longer am I from Brookline, Massachusetts. My new home is where I work: Burlington, Massachusetts. And has been for about a year.

Things have been going pretty well in suburbia. The neighbors are cool, we have a lot more room than our 906 square foot condo and aside from some cosmetic updates, life is good. About three weeks ago we were expecting friends at our place and Aly and I were tidying up before they came by. She noticed that there was a swarm of flying insects in one area of the living room. I sprayed the hell out of them with Raid and was ready to call it a night. However, a new set of bugs came back.

Turns out they were swarmer termites.

We had an exterminatorcome over and look at the house and luckily the infestation was small (about 16-18 inches under the spot in the living room). After we paid to get the place sprayed, things returned to normal.

Or did they?*

*If this was a TV show, right now would be a great time to go to a commercial. But since this isn't a TV show, go get a snack or open another window and check your email. Come back in two and two. That Chuck Woolery speak, my friends.

Things mostly did return to normal, but while in the crawl space the exterminator threw a package of letters wrapped in a plastic bag to me. “I think that these are yours,” he said.

They weren't mine, it looked as if they belonged to the previous owner of the house and were forgotten when he moved out last year. I brought them upstairs to Aly and told her to take a peek at them. After the exterminator left, I went upstairs and found her engrossed in these letters. I thought that they were a collection of old birthday cards. I was wrong.

Apparently, our former owner (Larry) was having a torrid affair with the married woman across the street (Risa). This was a shocking revelation in our little world as all of our neighbors have told us that the folks who lived in our house and the place across the street (both families moved to the same town within six months of each other) were very close.

The letters themselves alternate between bad love-lorn eight grade poetry and rejected letters to Penthouse Forum, but there's an underlying sadness to them all. Risa doesn't love her husband, but doesn't love him enough to escape from her life. She moons for a life with Larry, though I'm not quite sure if Larry feels the same way. There were other letters in this pack from a woman named Carol (or Cathy, I can't remember) plus photographs of a few other women. So it looks to me that Larry was two-timing his side dish.

This sucks for Risa for a number of reasons, the first is she thought that she had found her soul mate. What she really found was an old guy with a raging libido. I'm not going to say that I know Larry, because aside from meeting him once or twice, I don't but if you're juggling multiple women, you're not connecting with them on any level other than physical. Judging by her emotionally raw letters, Risa didn't get this. To her, she was Juliet and Larry was Romeo and their love wasn't stopped by warring families, it was hindered by bad timing. If only she had met Larry sooner, they would be forever happy.

I guess that brings us to the moral of today's entry: can you feel bad for someone that is doing something morally wrong? Risa is cheating on her husband and nailing her best friend's husband. Her children grew up with Larry's children. If this affair comes to light, she's not ruining one life but many. This is a selfish action that is difficult to defend.

But it's hard to paint her as the villain (especially from the limited evidence we have) because from these letters, it seems that she truly loves Larry. But she's just as blind as Larry's wife. If Larry explained to Risa that he's just looking for a little fun and that she was going to be another chick, that would be one thing. However, her letters don't paint that picture.

No matter what situation you're in, it always sucks when you get the wool pulled over your eyes. We've all been there and we can all relate. In that sense, while you may not be an adulterer, you can certainly relate to Risa. That doesn't make her actions any more palatable, but it does humanize them a bit.

On the same subject, but with a bit more humor, I spoke to my next-door neighbor about this discovery and he laughed. A few times he and his wife witnessed Larry almost getting caught by Risa's husband. After Risa's husband would leave for work--Larry's wife was a nurse and was gone early in the morning--Larry would take his cup of coffee and go over to Risa's house.

One day Larry did his morning ritual but Risa's husband must have forgotten something and unexpectedly returned home. My neighbor saw Larry skulking around the back of Risa's house (he must have been aware that her husband was home) and went up to the front door saying loudly, “Hey Bob! What are you doing here? Want to go golfing?” as if nothing had happened.

Cheaters always have funny stories.

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