Wildwood, New Jersey – August 1984
I remember Betty telling me, at the beginning of our relationship, she was moving to Chicago in three months for her husband’s job. So I knew no matter what happened between us, it would be short-lived. It was an affair she wanted to have with a younger man to get revenge on her husband. But what she didn’t realize at the time with whom she had chosen to have that affair.
We were sitting on a bench on the boardwalk one afternoon. It was a warm sunny day, and the tourists milled about us. Eating, drinking, playing games, and going on amusements.
We were just having a moment of gentle repose when she turned to me.
“You know, Chaz… when I started this with you it was just to get back at my husband.”
“I know, Bets. It’s okay. I’ve had no illusion as to what this relationship is.”
“But… I’m sorry about that.”
“It’s okay. I’m fine with it. I’ve just been happy to be with you, even though our time has been short.”
“But… I never thought that I’d fall in love with you.”
I smiled and kissed her. “I love you too, Betty. I loved you the first time I saw you come in the store.”
I knew what I was getting myself into. At 22 I was just driven by my desire to love and be loved. Nothing more. I’d always been that way. Almost desperate to be recognized by a beautiful woman. To feel real value and worth. It was a young man’s folly, but back then it was real. It was what I was.
The movers had begun to pack up her house and prepared to truck it off to Chicago. One evening we were lying on a sheet on the floor of her bedroom. We had just completed another one of our fiery sessions. The house was basically empty, sans us on the floor and a fan that blew across the room to cool us.
I laid back and stared at the ceiling with her beside me. I turned to her and kissed her lips. I knew this relationship’s expiration date and had prepared myself for its demise.
“I’m really going to miss you, Chaz.”
“I’m going to miss you too, Bets.”
“You know… I went off birth control a while back.”
“Yea. I stopped taking it over a month and a half ago.”
“I love you, Chaz. I thought if I got pregnant it would be a nice present you could give me, so I would always have a part of you with me forever.”
Anxiety goes into overdrive.
“I don’t know and I don’t care. It’s my decision.”
Not much was said after that while my mind swirled with a million possibilities. All of them ended with me getting shot by her husband.
To be honest, it had been such a crazy whirlwind romance I couldn’t even process what was happening at the time. I was just traveling through time in space caught in the vortex that was mad love and desire for Betty.
One night, about a week before she was supposed to move I was sitting at the kitchen table at my parent’s house having a snack. I was the only one at home at the time. The phone rang and I answered it.
It was Betty’s husband.
It was an awkward conversation and at first, I denied who I was. But he knew he had the correct number and that it was me. I don’t know how he got my number or name, but he must have gone through his wife’s things. He had stated on the call that Betty had run off to Texas to spend some time with her friend Leddy and that I should call her.
I was surprised at how cool he was, but somehow the jig was up. This was bad. This wasn’t supposed to ever happen, but what did I think could happen with what I was engaged in. He gave me Leddy’s number and I quickly scrawled it down on a piece of paper by the phone. Then he hung up.
I called the number and the person who answered the phone wasn’t Betty but sounded giggly and maybe high. She put Betty on the phone and we talked. She expressed again that she was in love with me, and that she no longer wanted to be with her husband, so she took off to her friend’s house to get her head straightened out. I assured her that as hard as it was for both of us, she should try to work things out with her husband.
Frankly, as much as I adored the drug of being with a girl like Betty, it had all begun to wear on me. The sneaking around, the idea of her infidelity, and the fact that she had a 5-year-old daughter.
I had prepared myself for this affair to only exist for a finite amount of time and felt resolute with its outcome. It frightened me that her husband had called my parent’s house and I’d had enough. Worlds colliding is never a good thing. I didn’t want this sort of mess in my life anymore. The possibility of Betty ever staying with me and making life with me in Wildwood seemed unimaginable to me. It didn’t make sense. Betty had been a secretary that hooked up with a high-powered married executive. He left his wife for Betty, his then-mistress. That almost never happens. People cheat because they’re not getting something from their spouse. It has nothing to do with sex, it’s more about that person’s character and bigger things wrong in their current relationship.
Betty was 32, but when I look back on it now, she was very immature as a woman. She liked being with charming, fun me because she longed to be young and 20 again. That was never going to happen. She was a house cat now. No job, no real skills, a mother, and a kept trophy on the arm of a rich guy. She had her daughter with him securing her financial stability. But Betty and me at age 22 would never have worked. Was she going to go from living in a nice house and driving a BMW 5, to living in some cheap apartment with a guy who worked at a video store? She just was caught up in a world of lust and fun and needed to get her head straight.
I get it. Once women hit around 28, the clock starts ticking. They need to settle down, find a husband, and have a kid. That’s happening a million times around the world right now. Even as you read this story it’s happening everywhere.
We kept in touch leading up to her going, but she did end up moving to Chicago with her husband and daughter. I was relieved, but for some reason, I wasn’t sad. I guess because Betty loved me and I her, but she was never mine. She belonged to another man. Her heart was all for Chaz, but the rest of her life was with him. I think after some time and counseling, she realized that and relented to his will. But it was for the best.
She wrote to me a few times and we chatted on the phone, but they were to stay out in Chicago for at least the next 3 years. So I knew time would heal all wounds.
She did call me one night and we were chatting and she asked that I mail her the polaroid pic of her topless back to her. She stated she just didn’t want a photo of her like that out in the world. I was fine mailing it back to her. It never meant anything to me anyway. Why would I look at some crappy picture of the woman I was seeing in the real world. Looking at a naked pic of Betty just seemed tawdry compared to what we once shared. Something sweet and elegant.
Here’s some of the stuff she sent me in the mail in the following months after she left.
Is that binding? (lol)
You’d think that the story would be over at this point. But there’s one last thing I have to tell you.
Tune in next Tuesday for the bone-jarring conclusion to this sordid tale.
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