Sunday, November 06, 2005

Office Affairs Part One

"I want to leave my wife," Rob says to me in between swigs of beer.

A group of us from the office are at a club in downtown Orlando. It was supposed to be a couple of beers after work, but it's five hours later. And we've all had a lot to drink.

Rob is a quiet, friendly guy I work with. Comes in early, leaves early. Has those perfect family photos of himself, his wife and two year old son framed around his desk. Of course everyone is smiling in the pics like they're thinking, "life is so perfect for us." That's what I see every day.

This is the first time Rob has gone out with us. I thought he'd come by for a quick beer and then go home. He usually leaves work by 4, leaving the rest of us behind. It's 9 o'clock now and he's been drinking heavily for five hours. And then he stuns me with this revelation.

The confessions flow as freely as the alcohol tonight. "I'm enjoying this," he says. "My wife never lets me out of her sight. We started dating in high school and got married shortly after. I've never gone out drinking with a group of people. And there's so many beautiful girls here. And I'm falling for Kara."

Kara is a young blonde in the office. She and Rob spend a lot of time together--going out to lunch, visiting each other's cubicles. A few people have started gossiping. "Is something going on with Rob and Kara?" they whisper.

But I know the truth. There's nothing going on between Rob and Kara. That's because Kara's been banging my boss, Tom, for the past year. They've kept it secret. Except that Tom likes to boast to me about all his exploits. Kara thinks, or hopes, that she's the only one sleeping with Tom. Tom has made it clear to her that they're not officially "dating," but still doesn't want her to know about the others. And there's plenty of others. In addition to our weekly visits to the strip club Rachel's, he sleeps with about two different girls a week. And it's rarely the same two.

All the guys in my work area tell me, "I wonder if Kara's seeing anyone?" And I have to keep quiet. But lately Rob has been following Kara around like a lost puppy. To the point that rumors have started. And Rob is so quiet that you'd never really expect anything. And he's got all those photos of his wife and child watching him all day. The perfect nuclear family. The type of photos which make me question my own life. Where are my children? Where's my house with the yard? Am I doing something wrong? Everyone around me is so perfect and happy. It makes my stomach twist in knots.

And now Rob tells me he wants to leave his life...his wife. "I envy you," he says.
"Why me?" I ask incredulously.
"Your wife lets you go out whenever you want. You can go to Rachel's and drink with strippers all day. You can go out partying with Tom whenever you want and she doesn't mind. I'm only out because my wife is visiting her parents this weekend. She'd kill me if she found out."

So Rob envies me.

The situation reminds me of when I get my college alumni magazine. All the notices of people I know getting married, having kids, getting promoted. But they never write in about their divorces, their affairs, their alcoholisms.

"And I think I'm falling for Kara," he tells me. "She's so sweet. And she told me she wasn't seeing anybody. The timing would be perfect for me to leave my wife."

I promised Tom I would never tell anyone, but this is too much. I can't let Rob leave his wife...at least not for Kara.

"Rob, I need to tell you something. But you have to swear you won't tell anyone."

A panic-stricken look contorts his face. "Is this going to be bad?"

"Yes, but you need to hear this."

Rob slumps onto one of the bar stools and poises himself for what he probably knew deep down inside.

"Tom and Kara have been doing it for the past year. And I'm sure they'll do it again tonight."

"But that doesn't make sense! I specifically asked her last week about Tom and she told me they were just friends. It doesn't make any sense!"

Rob is visibly shaken. And so he gets another drink. And another. And another. And it's going to be a long night.

After all, we've got a half dozen more clubs to hit tonight. And Kara's going with us to all of them. And so is Tom. And everyone is very drunk. And I sense things may get very ugly later on.

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