Why I Let Your Boyfriend Cheat On You

Mean Girls / Amazon.com
Mean Girls / Amazon.com
Time is amorphous on a Saturday night: some minutes are hours, and some hours are seconds. All of this could have started at any moment.

3:08 a.m. – I raise my eyebrows at your boyfriend, his expression — a mix of annoyance, sympathy and guilt. I say “What?” with a hint of irritation but also a half-smile, because I’m not giving up yet. He looks down, and then away. “I have a girlfriend, who’s not here.”

11:47 p.m.– Your boyfriend and his two friends come over and talk to me and Kate. In my head, your boyfriend caught my eye from across the room and could not let another moment pass without talking to me. In my head, I have that effect on people. In reality, his friend Cody had made out with Kate at a bar a few weeks ago, and that was too funny for your boyfriend to pass up. He smiles and introduces himself. He forgets my name. He flirts. He forgets my name, slyly asks my friend, then winks.

9:34 p.m. – I have my first margarita. It was 94 degrees all day, and tequila and lime take the edge off the swelter.

2:30 a.m. – Your boyfriend takes me to the upstairs bar where there’s dancing and ’70s hits and all of my friends that he doesn’t know because tonight he’s the “friend-of-a-friend.” I dance with your boyfriend completely uninhibited, partly because I don’t really care what he thinks of me and partly because I know it will make him like me more.

8:37 p.m. – I don’t put a bra on under my top. It looked bulky and it’s too hot for extra layers.

3:22 a.m. – I meet the puppy and the first friend leaves. I’m thinking about you, and what you’re doing right at this moment. And the definition of cheating. And whether we might just go swimming. And I wonder at how naïve I can be.

11:13 p.m. – I get to the party. It’s my college friends’ birthdays. I haven’t seen them since graduation. Laughter bounces off the wall, people squeal and hug as they are reunited. I find a drink and catch up with old friends. My best friend laughs and comments about how friendly I am when I drink.

1:23 a.m. – Your boyfriend is talking to another girl when I get to the bar. I’m keeping track of an overly-tequilaed friend, but we catch eyes and he comes over. I knew he would. Your boyfriend calls me “New Jersey,” tells me about his pool, and his puppy, and I flirt, pretend not to believe him, show my dimples, look up at him through my eyelashes.

3:09 am – I call an Uber. I’m a little disgusted, a little disappointed, and a little embarrassed. Your boyfriend looks a little sorry, a little sheepish, and a little disappointed. Swimming comes up. He makes me pinky swear that we will only swim. I say that I take pinky swears seriously, and that I’m a med student and I can be trusted. We’re both still flirting. He consults with his friends. I cancel my Uber.

5:06 pm – I get into a fight with my long-distance non-boyfriend. I’m annoyed and angry that I’ve wasted my energy and emotions on someone I should care less about.

3:06 a.m. – We all linger outside. I’m torn between finding my friends and a ride home and waiting for your boyfriend to invite me back, or kiss me, or ask for my number, and confused about why he hasn’t yet.

3:30-4:30 a.m. – The second friend leaves, only after wasting time and going swimming, and your boyfriend telling him to get out. He’s a good friend. I hope you like him. Your boyfriend gets in the pool, and asks if I’m going to get in, and if I’m going to wear all of my clothes. I remind him about you. About the pinky swear. I get in the pool. He says things like, “it’s not every day that I meet someone like you” and “You’re smart and funny and interesting.” We get in the shower. I think about you. I think that he’s shitty, that he’s an asshole, but also that I like him, and he’s funny, and his dimples are cute. We get into bed. I almost leave. Twice. I think that it’s not my responsibility. I think that I should stick up for you. I stop thinking.

4:49 a.m. – I leave, because sleeping over is intimate and is about something more than sex, and crosses yet another line. I leave because there’s a heavy silence between us now. I leave because I feel bad for you. I feel bad about myself. I feel worse because I think back over the moments of the night, and I cannot pinpoint one where it all started. TC mark

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