11 December 2012
Couples have affairs for nearly as many reasons as there are couples. I don't have a lot of personal experience here, so I'm only going on theory and what I've observed.
But some big categories for reasons why people cheat come up.
People cheat because of:
1) Their partner
3) A combination of one and two.
If you look at the big movies and novels surrounding affairs, you'll see they fall into one of these. Mme Bovary - check. Anna Karenina - check. The Scarlet Letter - yeah. You get the picture.
But what I haven't seen much of, and what I'd like to write a fiction about -- yes, a story, honey, not a memoir -- is a person who has an affair because of his/her children. Those precious ones that you'd kill for, die for and spend your life on. They'd be the cause of your running into someone else's bed.
Consider: You're older, in your 30s, 40s, or god forbid, 50s. At the same time you're feeling life's possibilities narrowing, your kids hit puberty. And, while school is a sort of wasting hell, you know they're having more fun than you are. Because you did. Or you had. You lead a much more intense life filled with drama, tears, wild infatuations and so on.
A certain kind of teen lets his/her parents know this. They just assume their lives are richer and more exciting, Partly because they may be, and partly because that's what the culture tells them through crappy TV shows and less crappy movies.
Even nice kids take it for granted that they are much more interesting than you'll ever be. Nor do they care much about what or who you were. Your youth is, at most, a mildly interesting artifact of merely tangential importance. If that.
This is, even for a saint like me, kind of annoying. For a person of lesser character, it could really fuck you up, especially if you were hot back in your youth. Then, having an affair wouldn't be about your spouse so much. M
Instead, it would be more about being able to say to your kid -- even on the inside, even in silence, never, ever with the intent to put it on the table -- but being able to say, hey: I'm still interesting. I still have a life outside of servicing you, outside of my office job, and beyond what you'll ever imagine. And I'm sophisticated. I may not be able to shag five or six times like I used to, but I drink . . .cocktails! And fancy vintages! I'm not in the back seat of some Japanese econo-box car any more. I'm lolling around on 80 threadcount sheets several floors up. I can snort cocaine off my lover's body and I know a thing or two about sex that I didn't.
So there, you moody little bastard. Who's living now?
And then of course, you, the reader/viewer, would have to wonder, who's the grown up? The moody little bastard or the parent who's having a fling?
I'm sure some French writer has covered this. And I'm not talking some cheesy deal where the father goes for the boy's girlfriend or the mother for the daughter's boyfriend. (Although, come to think of it, First Love, by Turgenev, is one of the all-time great novellas and is a variation on that. In a way.)