Monday, October 27, 2008

The Other Woman

Ever since I was a teenager, I have been addicted to Vogue Magazine. I study the photo spreads as religiously as other women might study the Bible or the Qu’ran. However, in all my years as a Vogue devotee, I have rarely actually read an article. But this month, I had to read every word of the article entitled “The Ex Factor” by Anne Taylor Fleming, who, as an eighteen year old, became involved with a forty year old married man who left his wife for her in 1969. They have been married ever since.

Who are these Other Women, anyway? I needed to know who would admit to this heinous behavior which breaks all the codes. And why. And what’s inside her head. And how guilty is she? Did she realize how much damage she did in breaking up a family? Would she do it over again? Is being really young an excuse? Is it possible to naively not know any better?

What resonates particularly badly with me about Anne Taylor Fleming is that as she supposedly grieved at the funeral of her husband’s former wife, the woman whose family she had destroyed many years before, she regretted she had never taken the opportunity to thank this woman for giving her a family “and making room in it for a ridiculously young second wife”. No real qualms. Nothing about how her four stepsons, one barely five years younger than Fleming, had to cope. Just pure narcissism.

My familiarity with OW’s began with my college roommate Deb whose relationship with her married boss was chronicled in a previous blog entry. Deb was truly in some sort of la-la land and never had a clue. All she knew was that she loved her boss with all her heart and that she believed he loved her, and so she couldn’t understand why his wife didn’t just release him as if he were a caged parakeet.

The next OW to cross my path was Peg who was a serial husbandizer, a single woman who dated married men exclusively, one after the other until—briing!—her reproductive alarm clock went off, and she arranged for her tryst of the moment to turn into an ugly divorce case so she could marry the guy and have a baby. It all turned out according to her plan.

And then there’s Madame X, the Massachusetts midget, who has made a habit over the past twenty years of breaking up marriages just to feel special. To be honest, once she wrecks a home, she does tend to marry most of the guys, but every now and then she flips one of the scrawnier fish with a flatter wallet back into the water.

I had a conversation with a young friend whose mother recently disclosed that in her twenties she had been an OW for several years before becoming dissatisfied and moving to Paris. Having lived the life of an OW, she recognized a good guy when she met one and immediately married the first one who came along. That was well over 30 years ago. It’s great that when she did settle down, she was able to marry a wonderful man, but I wonder what her daughter thinks of her OW history back in the day.

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