This story goes back to the time when I was still in my first marriage. At the time, we were renting a room at the top floor of a house somewhere off the Harrow Road. Oddly, except for the landlord who occupied a room on the ground floor, all other rooms in the house were vacant. This didn’t, at the time, give me any reason for concern. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, perhaps it should have.
After our usual breakfast of muesli, she raised an eyebrow and asked, “Aren’t you going to put some clothes on? Haven’t you any lectures to go to?”
I shook my head and declared, “Nah! Today’s lectures have been rescheduled. I ‘m just going to spend the day lounging about like a beached whale.” She shook her head in disapproval, muttered something about me taking my studies more seriously, and went off downstairs to her bicycle. Timing it to perfection, I pushed my head out the window just in time to see her pedal off to college.
“See you later!” I called out as I waved her off.
As she wasn’t due back till about 4:30 pm, I had over eight very promising hours all to myself. We had been together long enough for me to consider this to be a respite. Eight whole hours without the possibility of being unexpectedly blasted with emotional napalm, was to me, the stuff dreams. Even back then, I had learned that when something goes wrong, it is always the husband’s fault. Whether or not he is part f the chain of causation is immaterial. Not only that, he is usually also made to pay dearly for it, too…
I rolled-up an Old Holborn, and set to off to do what I had planned to do in the first place: Put in some heavy-duty study time into my criminal case law. As I laid out the study table with my case law material, I winced when I noticed that she had left her house keys at home. I instinctively knew that even though this oversight could not reasonably be blamed on me, I was going to get nuked for it anyway. But that wouldn’t happen till at least eight hours later. I took a deep breath, pushed images I had of any of thermonuclear weapons out of my mind, and immersed myself in the work I had planned for myself.
About three hours later, after having satisfied myself that I had my understanding of actus reus and mens rea down pat, I decided to take a quick shower. Stepping out of the shower, I was surprised to find that she was back. Instinctively, I braced myself for the inevitable: A talking down to for not doing something I should have done or for doing something I should not have done.
But instead, already in her robe, she smiled seductively and walked like a diva toward the bed. At the foot of the bed, the robe fell off revealing her luscious white skin covered only in the most strategic places by the sheerest and skimpiest black lace lingerie I had ever seen. In point of fact, I had never seen that particular lingerie combo before. This was so uncharacteristic of her (at least, with me) that I was convinced she had lost her mind. Considering the circumstances, even if she had gone loony, I wasn’t about to do any complaining.
As I tried to pull her close to me, she whispered in my ear, “U-uh! I thought we’d cuddle and talk first…” Given our unequal bargaining positions, I naturally complied. And so it was, we spent what seemed like hours, just cuddling and talking under the covers. It was easy talking to her. She was attentive, playful and best of all, non-judgemental and accepting. It was almost as if she was a different person altogether.
Then, without warning, she got out f bed and said she had to use the WC. As I watched her go, the door bell rang. Out of sheer habit, I looked out the window to see who it was. There, as bright as day, two floors below, my wife (then) stood with her bicycle, calling out, “I’ve forgotten to bring my keys!”
If that as her, who was the woman in the black lace lingerie who was with me?
When I turned around to look at her again, the lady in the black lace lingerie was gone.
At the time, I recall falling ill for a week from the shock. Now, some twenty five years later, my question is: “Couldn’t I have just returned the real wife and kept the impostor instead?”