Occasionally, you meet that one guy that makes everything go boom, blast. Five minutes after the customary round of banal introductions, you find yourself living through a bona fide ‘paging my soulmate’ moment. An hour later, you are smitten and inspired in equal measure.
‘Corr,’ you say, ‘so this is how people end up getting married?’
Yeses, that’s how.
Two hours later and you’re poised to take a bullet for the guy. Because everything fits. Because he’s Mr. Right. Because you share the same sense of
lavatorial humour. Because you both need a twelve-step programme for your respective twelve-step programmes. Because you’d both gladly plead no contest to all charges of crimes against zoomanity.
To top it off, the guy makes it very clear that the feeling is
neutral mutual, and that you have one of those rare, inescapable connections. Augh, if only he’d met you before he met his wifey.
Unfortunately, there’s always a 7.86 in 10.0 chance that the guy in question is very married, and also. Not closet married. Not I-never-wear-my-wedding-ring-because-my-ring-finger-sorta-always-itches married. Everybody-knows-this-guy-is-married married. You-and-his-wife-might-be-in-the-same-book-club married.
Some of us, certainly those that prescribe to Joseph’s school of fleeing temptation, will understand that we have met the male version of Poti
phar and run like crazy. Some of us will see no evil and, for the next three hours or so, engage in some harmless flirting. Some of us will respect that the boundaries of marriage are usually intensely patrolled and leave things at asking whether it’s okay to follow each other on Twitter.
Some of us, though, will go, ‘ach, may the best girl win’, ask for his number and go on to court him relentlessly. For months down the road and you are officially the ‘other woman’. If you are unlucky, he’ll divorce his wife and marry you, sealing your fate as the woman your husband left his first wife for, and you’ll live in eternal fear that one day he’ll leave you for his future third wife. If you are unlucky, he won’t marry you. You’ll become the woman that never trims her hedges—the woman that never quite gets round to cutting her loses because her married boyfriend keeps promising to leave his wife. You’ll also become the woman whose kids keep pestering her about their father.
‘Where is daddy? Why doesn’t he sleep in your bed like other daddies?’
Despite the realities and unrealities of what is usually a lose-lose situation, the ‘post’ (if I may call it that) of the other woman has become a hugely popular one. It would appear that there are now Brownie points for that sort of thing, and that there are dozens of modern African women out there that might even write an application or two, complete with a CV and all, if they knew where to send it. Today’s other woman is, after all, finally having her
black forest cake, eating it too, and sending the leftovers, wrapped in customized foil, to members of her extended family.
She goes telling it on the mountain, even, because, let’s face it, she’s the confident surefooted adult in all this—she’s not the one with the childish whims and low self esteem. She’s the one with a Master’s degree—she has the capacity for coherent thought and reason. She’s the one he loves—she com-ple-tes him. She’s 39137—a number that speaks for a level of freaking awesomeness that hasn’t even been invented yet. She’s the one that’s properly attuned to the culture of his needs—she would get it on with a dolphin if he told her this would bring a smile to his oft misunderstood face. Guff, guff, guff.
And the best part is that she doesn’t have to justify anything to you because you just won’t get it. Indeed, you are one of those hammerheads; you are numbered among those people that will never understand the concept of free will. You just won’t get that she’s the other woman because she chooses to be one.
DUN, DUN, DUN.
When she can be bothered, she might say something like, ‘I don’t have daddy issues. My father was a good man. He was around a lot. What can I say? I just like men that are taken. Deal with it.’
For what it’s worth, the rest of us really do try to deal. No, really, we do. Sometimes we don’t deal very well, choosing instead to let a bottle of concentrated sulfuric acid do all our negotiating. Nonetheless, we try really hard. In fact, it is in the spirit of trying hard to deal that we have made the following suggestion:
Dear other woman, what if you used the same token, albeit in a completely different slot machine? What if you and every other single woman in this world refused to be the other woman? What if there was one global sisterhood, one mentality to rule us all, with every woman going, ‘I won’t do that to my sister.’
“This new code of honor would work to the advantage of us all. To act with honor in this matter would reinforce our solidarity. Women would no longer be willing to be ‘other women’. Men would be on their own.”—extracted from ‘The Other Woman. Stories of two women and a man’ by Susan Koppelman (Ed.).
Pause and think
calmly about that.