(photo taken from a Soho shop window, artist unknown)
Last night my wife and I lied in bed, discussing infidelity. We had been watching a film with Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, "That Hamilton Woman," detailing the scandalous lives of Admiral Horatio Nelson and Emma Hamilton during The Napoleonic Wars. We discussed the unfaithful lives of the actors in the early years of their relationship. The conversation turned to infidelities that we had experienced, those actively participated in, or disloyalties we had either been the knowing or the unwitting victims of.
The conversation did not last long. We took renewed interest in the film at one point, you see. But just as The Hollywood Code does we took the time out at the end of the dialogue to denounce infidelity as unattractive and made sure that the perpetrators had suffered rather than been rewarded for it. We both agreed that, "It is never worth it" and we can't understand how other people say that it is among the most exciting sexual experiences they've ever had. The movie continued.
I admitted that the most affecting experiences I had had in this regard were when I had fallen in love with a friend's girlfriend and I had to have her. I arranged some truths in such a way to ensure that this would happen. Though there was never any actual infidelity involved, it only lacked infidelity in the physical sense, every other aspect was there. We waited until she had broken up with him. She came to my apartment only minutes later and we had sex for the first time, including our first kiss, with her crying through some of it, towards the completion of the act. It all improved later, but we needed to get it out of our systems, or into them. I'm not sure if that phrase quite suits the subject.
Once when speaking to a friend who had begun dating my girlfriend sometime before the actual end of my relationship with her, he assured me that she: had never cheated on me.... I responded: When you form an intimate and affectionate relationship with a man that you plan on being with, that is cheating. He agreed. Towards the end of the relationship her sex life had became more active than mine, that's all. It is simple when looked at this way, from a great distance. The same girl had cheated on her previous boyfriend with me, in a similar way, and we had devised agreed-upon assertions that were not to be deviated from in the event of independent questioning. This is how the world works for some.
I began a new paragraph where I lapsed into pontification, then started another, then deleted it all. I have nothing noble to say about infidelity, nothing new.
I think back to a post from a month ago or more when I was discussing with myself the desire to live a certain type of life. If you want to live an expansive life of great experience then read books that explore lives created from the same and that in turn might help inspire you towards greater experiences. But so many of the great books that I've read explore infidelities, and not always using The Hollywood Code as a guide through the experience...
It is a perennially fascinating subject, especially when it unexpectedly emerges in the lives of others, at a safe or fictive distance. Up close it is much less fun, though some seem to relish the very idea of it, along with the act, or the acts.
I wonder about the souls of others, the shape and size of them, the capacities for inflicting or enduring pain, the selfishness of the human heart, the absorbed grasping for either substitute or genuine pleasures, and the many justifications for actions unseen.
"People who are brutally honest get more satisfaction out of the brutality than out of the honesty." - Richard Needham
"But Napoleon doesn't want peace!" - Admiral Horatio Neslon