Sandra Cliff thought of their affair as “big love and big lies,” but her old lover seems to make his open marriage work—only with more orgasms.
I was 29; he was 43.
I was a lowly direct report; he was a Vice President and my boss’s, boss’s, boss.
I was divorced with a two year old son; he was married with four kids and an adopted nephew.
I was lonely; he was overwhelmed.
I was a yogini; he was a Tai Chi master and a practitioner of Qi Gong.
He was the first person who said to me, “How many times in your life will you get the opportunity to be truly excellent at something?” It was at his urging that I began to dig deeper into my love of yoga. Up until meeting him, my practice had been just a way to tone my abs and a way to sweat out the previous night’s toxins in hopes of creating a clean space for filling up with the coming night’s impurities. He opened my eyes to so many things, not the least of which was multiple orgasms.
In studying Qi Gong, he was pursuing the mastery of energy. He was studying with a doctor based in Austin, Texas, the town where we both resided. His ultimate goal? To walk through walls. In his five years of studying, he had been focused on the five layers of matter, then he was expected to master the bridge between matter and anti-matter. This “bridge” was sexual energy. His practice consisted of meditating himself into an erection and then wrapping a silk, which had been marinated in certain herbs and oils, around his member. This silk was connected to a basket containing weights. Next, he would lift the basket via his erection. He max-ed out at 22.5 lbs. Suffice it to say, this was impressive.
Let me back up. We met at work. He was older and I wasn’t really looking. But then, I noticed I kept seeing him out at bars when I was going to see my favorite bands. And then, I noticed in the meetings I conducted, which he always enthusiastically attended, he laughed a little too loudly at my jokes, arrived a little too early to each meeting and stayed a little too long afterwards to discuss my latest proposal. It was at one of the band performances that we first began chatting about something other than work. Afterwards, he walked me to my car. I was extremely attracted to him, but I couldn’t shake that he was married. It just felt wrong. So I mentioned my concern.
He laughed it off and said that should be the least of my concerns. He explained that they weren’t together, he and his wife, Cynthia. He said that they still loved each other, they’d met in high school and had been married 23 years. They were living in Boston while he was in college. He was commuting to New York shortly thereafter for his first job. He was there Monday through Friday. She took on a lover in his absence. He said he’d loved her dearly from the start, so he practiced detachment. He allowed her her lovers and she allowed him his career. When the time came, they moved to Chicago. It was in Chicago that he talked her into having children. For several years after, she gave up the lovers and focused on growing their brood. Within five years time, they had four children. After the birth of the fourth, admittedly an “oops” baby, she’d had plastic surgery. She had her boobs augmented, her belly flattened and her ass lifted. She also had implants in her lips and her skin around her face tightened.
After she’d recovered from the surgeries, his wife had gone back to other lovers. Even though they were still married, they had by now acquiesced that they were no longer in love. They “loved” each other like a brother loves a sister, but not like lovers. So she had convinced him to take a lover as well. But he was socially awkward in that way that geniuses can be, so she had to help him find his first lover, who was, coincidentally, the nanny. It only lasted a year. And then I came along.
I was basically the opposite of his wife in every way. I was fit from all of the yoga and my hair was its natural color—sort of a dirty blonde, mostly brown. I had no augmentation and turned up my nose at those who indulged in such fodder for insecurity. I was proud of my single-working mom status, but I was also maniacally looking to shed it. He was a self-made multi-millionaire. If I said that wasn’t alluring, I’d be lying through my teeth.
He was concerned not about his marital status, but about our working relationship. In our company, managers (let alone VPs) were not allowed to date their subordinates.
I convinced him not to worry about the working relationship (we could be careful); he convinced me not to worry about the marriage (they didn’t love each other and besides—it was allowed on both sides). And so, we slept together. And thus began the time I dated a married man.
It was tricky. He wasn’t good at hiding his affection and truth be told, neither was I. We would sneak around the halls at our huge office campus. I would deliver him his favorite Starbucks treat; he would leave a rose under my keyboard. We spent every weekend together. I would load my car up with my son’s favorite items and we would drive from our suburban home way north of town to his luxury mini-mansion in a resort in the hill country. His wife would leave and spend the weekend with her lover, who was in a Motley Crue cover band. We would swim in the heated pool, hike the hills behind his house and cook large, extravagant meals. As blissful as the weekends were, they always came to a close. And then, I had to stop playing house and load up my car with my child and our things and drive back to boring old suburbia. Usually exhausted and spent from an exhilarating weekend, I would cry the whole way home. I couldn’t sustain this. I knew something had to give.
After just two months, I tried to break it off. So Clark, in a rush of urgency to maintain the relationship status, booked a trip. He took me to Mexico. It was serene, divine and delicious—a feast for the senses. One day, he kept me in the cabana for four, yes, that’s right, four orgasms. I kept trying to get up and go outside for sunshine and he would capture me and whisk me back to bed. As divine as it was, all good things must come to an end. And sure enough, once we were back in our environment, I was back to being second fiddle to a wife who didn’t love him and kids who were utterly lost and confused.
So again, I tried to break it off. And again, he planned a trip. This time, it was with all of the kids. Yes, that’s right. Me, my rich, married lover, his brother (a chef) and my friend (a nanny), all went to a Texas beach resort complete with six (yes, that’s right, as in one-two-three-four-five-six of them) kids. And somehow after all of this, I loved him even more. Yet again, he went home to the wife. Yet again, I broke it off. This went back and forth for nine months total. My parents were livid about the idea, so I started lying to them early on. My best friend told me she would not watch the train wreck, so I was lonely on so many levels when not with him. Plus all the sneaking around and lying at work took its toll on me. Eventually, inexplicably, he was fired. They never cited our relationship but I suspect the corporate management team had somehow discovered us. That led to him moving, but by this time we were already split and he was dating another single mom.
The last I heard, Clark and his wife Cynthia are still married. And as I struggle to maintain my second marriage, a marriage that I can assure you entails far fewer orgasms, it baffles me. So I ask you, is their approach so wrong? It fucked with my head like no other and I am certainly glad to be rid of it, but essentially, in his mind, it was detachment. He was not attached to her fidelity. He simply accepted her ability to love him in the only way she knew how. And she allowed him the same courtesy. Therein, their marriage remained spicy. They each had independence. And although it’s not something I can fathom, I will offer that there is something to be said for their staying power. Wherever you are Clark, touché. Touché, my friend. Touché.
Image credit: MadEmoiselle Sugar/Flickr