It's very simple, Martin. It really is.
But before I explain it, I want to point out that I just watched you sit on the porch eating an entire bag of Nutter Butters.
Do you know how much fat there is in one serving of Nutter Butters?
Do you know how many Nutter Butters there are in a serving?
I don't either. I'm sure it's somewhere around "lots and lots."
But that doesn't really matter. Well, it does matter, but it doesn't. The specifics don't matter. Well, they matter because they build up and they . . .
Let me start again. Because this is sounding like I'm nagging you and I don't want to nag you. Actually, I want to stop nagging you. That's what this is all about. It's just going to take five minutes. Ten, tops. Listen. All you have to do is listen. Sit down and listen.
It's not about trying. It's not about wanting to. You just have to lose weight. That's the fact here. You. Have. To.
I know: I told you this last year. Hell, I told you this every year we've been married. Remember the tux? I'm not going to bring it up again but you remember the tux. My mother mentioned the tux just last week. I told her not to bring it up. She brought it up. It's an embarrassing story no matter who brings it up.
But I don't want to embarrass you. This is not about that. I love you. I do.
You know that.
So here's the deal.
Take a look at this.
I know. It's from college. She went to my school. I'm not going to tell you her name.
Pretty, isn't she?
Well, she's even hotter now. I mean it. We're talking a very, very attractive woman. And she's your type. I know what type you like. When we were in Barbados I watched which women caught your attention. I know what you like. And she's it. She could be in Hollywood. She wanted to be but, well, she made some mistakes. I don't have to tell you her whole story. She's very happy now, though. And she makes good money.
Here's why I'm showing you this picture and why I'm going to tell you what I'm going to tell you: If anyone can keep you away from the Nutter Butters, it's somebody like her.
Don't say it. I know I'm attractive enough. I'm not putting myself down. I think I'm just fine for thirty-four and after two kids--okay, so they were from your first marriage--still, I've got nothing to apologize for. Plus you make me feel pretty. I do appreciate that.
Just shut up and listen. This isn't about me. It's about you. The guy I love. And the guy I want to have around for a good long time.
And it's about her. My friend from college. We met in film studies. Analyzing the male hierarchical gaze in American cinema. That sort of thing. Kind of ironic, actually, that she'd . . . well, I'm getting ahead of myself.
I know this is all confusing. I'm trying to tell you.
Okay, here's how it's going to be. Remember when we talked about free passes? You told me that, if the circumstances arose, I could spend the night with Christian Slater and if you had the opportunity, you could spend the night with Marie Osmond--you remember. We talked about it on the drive to Florida. It was late. We were getting silly. You tried to talk me into Donny. A surprising choice, Marie was, but that's why there's chocolate and vanilla. Of course, with Marie we're talking super double vanilla. Still, if that's what you want, that's cool. It's your free pass. Your free, boring, Mormon pass. I know, I shouldn't judge. It's not your fault you're a little bit country.
Sorry, back to the point.
I was thinking about it last week--not about the Osmonds, about the whole free pass thing. Our conversation on that drive kind of implied that there are certain cases--cases when it doesn't negatively impact our marriage--where it would be an okay thing if we have a, well, an encounter with someone. That was one case--or two cases, counting Donny--where a technical breach of vows wouldn't impact our marriage in any negative way. Well, if there's that case--those cases--I figured, maybe there's another. And maybe it doesn't have to be a celebrity and maybe . . .
No. No. No. No. No. Of course not, Martin. No. I didn't want you to think that. No. This isn't anything like that. I haven't. Never. No. This is different. I know you're sensitive about . . . no. Just hear me out.
I talked with . . . well, I told you I don't want to give you her name right now. I talked with Her and I had heard that She had become a, well, a prostitute--a call girl, actually. It's not like She's stopping cars and wearing hot pants. There isn't a pimp involved or anything. It's just Her business. And after talking to Her for a while, I kind of had an idea.
No. No. No. No. Never. No. I'm not . . . Did you think I would . . . ? No. Yes, we could use some extra money considering your bonus situation last year but, no, that's not what I'm talking about. Just stop and shut up for a minute.
Here goes. Nutshell.
If you get down to 210 pounds, you sleep with her. One night.
No strings. No guilt. No last name. No hassle from me.
Because I want you around for a long time, and nothing else is working. Drop the weight and you get an unconditional night of fun with, seriously, the most beautiful woman I've ever met in my life.
I'll even drive you to the hotel and pick you up with a smile on my face the next morning.
I will. I mean that.
You need to wear a condom, of course. I should mention that now. I told her to insist. Nothing personal, but you never know how guys are going to be in situations like this. Not that I would imagine there are many situations like this. It's not like I got the idea out of Reader's Digest. It's not going to end up in "Life in These United States."
Nobody will know but me, you, and her.
And, well . . . Cheryl and Dierdre and I swore on our children, or lack thereof, that we would never tell anyone about this. Swore it. It was very Ya-Ya Sisterhood. I mean it. None of us are going to tell anyone. It would be like it happened in Vegas or something. Total secrecy on it. They're all cool with it.
Right now--we synchronized our watches--Cheryl and Dierdre are telling Doug and Randy exactly what I just told you. Well, maybe not exactly. There will be some natural differences in our presentational styles. For example, I haven't let you speak at all. Cheryl's probably not going to be able to do that with Doug.
Doug and Randy are going to get the same incentive that I just gave you, Martin. The same deal applies to them: Bring your weight under 210 and you get a night with my friend.
Seriously. Martin. If you think Jared had fun with Subway sandwiches, wait until you see what my friend can do.
MARTIN 316 POUNDS
I just stared at her.
I'm not sure for how long.
I just sat there not saying a word and letting her spin out this craziness. Like I was waiting for someone to stop her. Like there was going to be a phone call or someone knocking at the door or an anvil falling through the ceiling or something, anything, to change the scene, because when I came home from work there were very few things that I was expecting.
I expected to have to make dinner because I assumed that Brin would be working late. She usually works late on Tuesdays.
I also expected that the stink from the laundry room would be fierce because Philip, who is now ten and should be able to handle such things, was supposed to change the kitty litter last week and somehow never got around to it, although he found time to have instant message conversations with seven friends simultaneously for three hours last night. (I watched over his shoulder, then walked into the kitchen, poured a bowl of Froot Loops, and came back and he was still talking. Why didn't I stop him? Hell if I know. I guess I don't get to have him here that often so when he is here, I don't like to give him a hard time. Typical divorced parent behavior, maybe, but it works.)
I also expected that Regan, glorious Regan, would be dressed as some sort of witch princess and I'd have to rescue her or be rescued or whatever her five-year-old whim decided (it sometimes changes midstory, with whatever characters she's reading about at her mother's place sometimes working into the story and leaving me temporarily flummoxed).
And I expected to feel like a dad again, which is hard to do when your kids are living in Ohio with your ex-wife and her sister and her sister's kids like some sort of sitcom waiting to happen. (If it did happen, I'd be the guy who makes an appearance maybe once every twelve episodes.)
What I wasn't expecting was for my wife to tell me that I could have sex with a prostitute.
What I wasn't expecting was for her to reveal the fact that she even knew a prostitute.
In fact, I wasn't expecting prostitution in any shape or form to enter into our conversation. The last time we talked about prostitution was when we went to see that Jack the Ripper movie with Heather Graham and after the movie Brin said to me, "Before you met me, did you ever pay for it?"
I liked that she took it for granted that I didn't pay for it since I met her--which I haven't. I didn't beforehand either, although there was one time in Vegas when I made a call and checked prices. Show me a man who, alone in Vegas, hasn't called and checked prices and I'll show you the pope . . . who will probably tell you about the time he was in Vegas and he checked up on prices.
Still, I politely thanked the woman on the phone and hung up, satisfied--well, not quite satisfied--to fantasize about the whole prospect, assuming that the woman who knocked on the door would look like Julia Roberts or the one from Leaving Las Vegas. The actress who was in the babysitter movie and the one where Tom Cruise is the bartender. Not sure what happened to her. Probably will get a CSI show of her own one of these days.
The whole idea of paying for it--the whole idea of whores and call girls and prostitutes and whatever are a great wide world of "huh?" to me. Their world never intersected mine, as far as I could tell. If there was a whorehouse near Decatur, where I grew up, I didn't know about it. And it's not like any of my friends ever reported back to me on experiences with prostitutes. Hookers are like astronauts. I know they exist. I know they do amazing things. But it's just outside of my experience. Is their price structure based on time or activity? Is it cheaper to go to a whorehouse or have them come to your hotel room? Can you suggest how they dress? Are they . . .
See, that's what happens. I don't think about it. She mentions it. And suddenly the window is open in the middle of a storm and all kinds of shit is blowing into my mind.
Focus, I said to myself while she was spilling out this scheme. Once I got what she was talking about and once I was convinced that she wasn't pulling my leg--that this wasn't some sicko reality show--the first thing I wanted to do was call Doug and Randy.
The second thing I wanted to do was not call Doug and Randy.
Yes, they are my friends.
No, we don't talk about sex. Not real sex anyway. We talk about hotties and we tell jokes and we weigh the relative appeal of Eurobreasts versus good old American augmentation balloons and we talk about rumors, about people at our respective places of employment, about whoever is on the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover, about whatever. But we've got kind of an unwritten law that I didn't think about until about now.
That law is this: We don't talk about our own sex lives.
Honestly, I don't know if Doug and Randy are doing it with their wives on a daily basis or if they haven't done it since Y2K (I'm pretty sure we all did it on Y2K--just in case it was our last shot before the world monetary system collapsed). (Or maybe that was just me.)
All this was spinning through my mind. My mind was working overtime on this. Like it was doing high-level calculus. But to Brin, all I was doing was sitting there.
Until she said, "Well, that's the offer. I won't bring it up again. I'm not even going to ask you whether you want to do it or not because then you might feel like there's some judgment on you when you agree or when you say no. Instead, I'm telling you. You are doing this. You're going to lose the weight. You're going to look like the you I've only seen in pictures. You're going to spend the night with her. No discussion. No negotiation. Let me know when you're ready to check the scale. I've already calibrated the one in the upstairs bathroom."
And she left.
And the word calibrated reverberated in my brain.
I don't think I've ever heard her use the word calibrated. And here she's telling me that she calibrated, all premeditated, the upstairs scale--which I haven't stepped on in a decade. How much of this speech had she rehearsed? Did she and Cheryl and Dierdre practice this thing, pick a secretary, write it out and make copies? Is there any documentation?
None of that is important, of course, but those details are easier to think about, easier to wrap my mind around, than the basic concept of this screwed-up offer.
My wife is giving me permission to sleep with another woman.
Not a never-gonna-happen free pass with a celebrity I'll never meet (although I thought I saw Marie Osmond at the outlet mall once, from a distance, over by Eddie Bauer).
Not an I-don't-mind-if-you-want-to-turn-on-Monster's Ball-for-the-Halle-Berry-sex-scene-while-we're-having-sex offer.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Excerpted from The High-Impact Infidelity Diet by Lou Harry and Eric Pfeffinger. Copyright © 2005 by Lou Harry. Excerpted by permission of Crown, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.