What a bomb my brother dropped!

Just when you think you’ve heard everything, when there’s nothing more to be learned, when you’ve wrung every last bit of juice out of the turnip...

I called my brother the other day, just to catch up. Can’t recall what we were chatting about when he dropped this bomb on me:

“Mommy had an affair once. Did you know that?”

Say what?

“Gee, can’t say I did. How do you know?”

Some years ago, I learn, Dad invited Carl on a ski trip to Colorado. Relaxing after a day on the slopes, he shared this tidbit. Details were not forthcoming, so Carl had none to give me—not even whether it happened in reality, or just in Dad’s head. His report included only one more datum, Dad’s own feelings on the subject:

“I respected her for it.”


Yet I have no trouble believing It.

I close my eyes, imagine an alternative universe in which I, at some foolish, needy moment, yield to this impulse. I try to imagine my husband respecting me for it. I try to imagine respecting myself for it. Mind-boggling.

And yet, I have no trouble believing my father said it. And meant it. In the War Between Men and Women, my mother got off a good shot; that’s something Dad could respect.