The Reddest Beard – Podcast

The Reddest Beard – Stories

The Liar

I laid in her bed staring at the ceiling.  I was fighting off the doubts and uncertainties of my own character, knowing full well that she was with another man before she answered my calls that night. She gave me some line about being busy with her friends, and I let it slide because, well, […]

I laid in her bed staring at the ceiling.  I was fighting off the doubts and uncertainties of my own character, knowing full well that she was with another man before she answered my calls that night. She gave me some line about being busy with her friends, and I let it slide because, well, I wanted it to be true. I knew it wasn’t, though. 

I’d come to the same party I knew she was going to be at only to find out that she wasn’t there when I arrived. No one knew we were dating yet, so my friends thought nothing of it when they told me that she had left with the other guy. There was speculation as to what that could mean – this group of friends was Jewish, and among suburbanite Jews in Metro Detroit, gossip was king. My friend Mike knew I’d had something going on with her, and he mentioned that maybe I should just join him and a bunch of people for an after party of salsa dancing. I’d thanked him for his suggestion, and walked off to mingle a bit with some of the others still at the party. I’d text her a few times over the next few hours, waiting to hear back, knowing that she was with him but trying to play it off as being ok. 

It wasn’t ok. 

I liked pretending to be very cosmopolitan, educated, refined and cultured. I would say that things like monogamy were a thing of the past. Our new sensibilities as people of the 21st century didn’t crave things like that. We didn’t need them, because it was a brave new world, and we didn’t need to be encumbered by things from our unenlightened pasts. 

It was bullshit. I was broken inside. 

I’ve heard other people say they don’t care if they’re one of many partners, and that swinging relationships and partnerships are fine with them. I suppose I have to take what they say at face value and believe them. But for my part, I hate it. I guess I just hated myself enough to let it slide because I wanted to sleep with the pretty girl that I knew so many others wanted, too. 

Eventually she responded, saying that she had been out with some friends and didn’t have her phone on her. I told her it was no big deal, and that I just wanted to check up on her because I got to the party late and didn’t see her, and the weather was bad so I wanted to make sure she got home safely. It sounded almost real. 

She told me that the roads were clear, which was uncharacteristic of Michigan in January, and that she got home perfectly safe. The roads were so clear, in fact, that if I was still out and about, I’d have no trouble getting to her house, if I were so inclined. 

I was so inclined. 

I don’t know if it was the offer of sex, or wanting to look her in the eyes and see what she looked like as she lied to my face that drew me in. Probably a bit of both. Even though she had made it clear that she wasn’t ready for an actual, out-in-the-open, committed relationship with anyone, she was lying to me about being with the other guy. That bothered me, because I knew who he was and that she was doing it. It’s just that when she would do it, she would lie about it. I had my suspicions at first, but eventually I couldn’t trust her. I needed to see her face as she lied, because I wanted to see exactly what it looked like. It was a control question, of sorts. I knew the answer. Watching her response would allow me to compare it to her expressions and mannerisms at previous times that I suspected her of lying to me. It worked, too well. I realized that as she lied to me about being out with girlfriends; everything about her was false. I’d been duped and used by someone I thought I was actually going to fall in love and spend a future with. In retrospect, there’s no other way it could have gone, though. 

Maybe it was the offer of sex, or wanting to look her in the eyes as she lied to my face that drew me in, or both. True, she had made it clear that she wasn’t ready for a public, committed relationship with anyone, but it bothered me that she was lying about being with the other guy. Not only was she with him, I also knew who he was. Watching her response would allow me to compare it to her expressions and mannerisms at previous times that I suspected her of lying to me. I realized that as she lied to me about being out with girlfriends; everything about her was false. I’d been duped and used by someone I thought I was actually going to fall in love and spend a future with. In retrospect though, there’s no other way it could have gone.

I’d met her on a group trip abroad, and she was easily one of the most attractive women in our immediate group of 50 some individuals. We were going to Israel, to have magical time connecting with our Jewish roots. It was, in fact, a magical time – one which I will never forget. But then we had to come back to reality, and life as we knew it before. 

She’d been hooking up with someone from the beginning of the trip, a jock, who lifted things up and set them down for a living. He and I had gotten along pretty well, mostly I assume because he didn’t view me as a threat to his masculinity in the least. 

They each had gone into that trip , now a year ago, with other significant others……. Tthey ended the trip together. I guess what I’ve heard about whirlwind romances is true, and that if the relationship isn’t built on something more than the emotional high of a vacation, it’s never going to last. 

We served on the same committee for a reunion for this trip, now that it had been a year. That’s when we started spending more and more time together. Somehow I’d become the group “rabbi”, a term they endowed me with affectionately. I was probably the most well-read in Jewish thought and text, and I didn’t drink or do drugs like so many others did, nor was I looking for random sex and hookups. My trip to Israel was a spiritual one, and those things didn’t really interest me at that time. So the members of the group came to me with questions about their Jewish identity, Jewish laws and customs that they knew of but didn’t understand, and the questions that generally would have been reserved for the clergy. I guess since I had the knowledge and some answers, and an ear to lend to listen, they decided to ask me instead of going to their parents or grandparents or the stuffy old rabbi at the temple they never visited. 

That’s what she did, too. She confided in me that she was sad, unfulfilled, and tired. We went to get lunch a few times and she told me all the things that bothered her, as well as about her hopes and dreams for the future, which she felt were getting further away instead of closer. We had many long conversations, coffee and lunch dates, and text conversations. I shared some writing with her, and I watched her fall harder for me. It was my “go-to” move. I would write some brief poetry or share some journal entries and watch them swoon. When I told them they were my muse I meant it; if they assumed that it had taken me weeks to write the poem or brief journal entry of thoughts about them I wouldn’t correct them. I can sit down and bang out a 5 page essay in an hour. A couple of lines of poetry was nothing. She fell for it as well, which I had absolutely hoped she would

One day, after her boyfriend had confessed another infidelity to me, I sat having lunch with her, only this time it was different. I couldn’t stop looking at her as a wholly feminine, sexual, beautiful creature. 

She had dirty blonde hair, a cute, round face with eyes like glacial ice and cheeks that turned slightly red when she laughed at my jokes. She had the long body of a runner, thin and agile, with enough muscle to give her a physique of an athlete, but enough curves to catch the eye as she passed by. Her smile was infectious. Eventually I would find out that her athletic style of clothing hid curves that could kill a man faster than a switchback down a mountain through the alps. She was, in short, ridiculously hot. Unfortunately, I have an ego the size of the sun, fuelled by an inferiority complex. How hot she was and how desired by others (especially her now-ex who was a fitness coach and body builder that I felt inferior to) played too much of a role in my decision to pursue her. 

I knew I should run away and avoid it, I just couldn’t. 

As soon as things were done with them, I was going to make a move. I would not, however, be the one to end them by shedding light on that situation to her. I promised myself that much. 

I didn’t have to wait long. Another week, maybe two, and they had a fight that they wouldn’t recover from. She called me to talk, and we stayed on the phone for 3 hours that night. She told me it was over and she kicked him out, and shyly, meekly, I told her that I had information she should know. 

I knew he’d been fucking other women for almost as long as we’d been back from the trip. He and I had gone camping with other friends for a weekend, and he disappeared for a night to meet up with a girl he wanted to shack up with, leaving us alone until the next morning. She came to pick him up, and I could see the guilt in his eyes and the complete lack of knowledge in hers. 

I admitted that I knew, but that I was torn. He was also my friend. He also confided in me, and many times those secrets were filled with guilt and remorse. I apologized, and she was angry. We didn’t speak for a week, until she called me to tell me that she understood that I’d been in an impossible situation. In the meantime, he’d also called. He was distraught. I told him I could have nothing to do with it, since I was a friend to each of them, and what he had already told me was enough to make things too difficult to continue. He agreed and apologized, and with that, my conquest of his now ex was fully underway. It wasn’t long until she and I were openly flirting at our coffee and lunch dates. She’d ask my how I was still single, and what it was that I was looking for. I’d dodge and counter to change the subject, playing coy and shy. I jokingly asked her on a date in front of about half a dozen of our group of friends one day, and she stared me straight in the eyes and said “yes” with all the seriousness of a judge sentencing someone to prison. 

The tension built until one night we went to a bookstore together and sat talking in her car after it closed. The snow came down and we felt a bit insulated from the world. I told her it was late and I should go. I got out of the car and walked to her side and asked her for a proper, good hug. She smiled, got out, and as she pulled away after we broke contact, I pulled her back to me and kissed her. Five minutes later we were half naked in the back seat taking out months of frustration on each other. 

The next week she confided that she’d been asked on a date by another guy, and told me she was going. She said she wasn’t ready for anything serious yet, and though she knew she was falling in love with me, she couldn’t be in a relationship yet. She wanted me to know her plans and designs, but didn’t want me to be upset…

I suppose it shouldn’t have come as such a shock to me while in bed next to her, feeling her head rest on my chest, that I wasn’t ever going to have a future with her. 

It did, though. 

Shock me, that is.

I was drifting off to sleep and right as I tiptoed across the barrier from the real world of being awake into the realm of dreams, I was hit with that very realization like someone dropped a book on my head as I lay in bed. It didn’t help things that there was a thunderstorm outside, and at that moment a bolt of lightning lit up the room and I was shaken by the clap of thunder that came right after. So great was my shock and all of this that I sat up in bed with my eyes wide open like I’d been started awake from a nightmare. She woke up, too, since I damn near launched her off of me as I jumped up. Obviously concerned, she asked me what was going on. My breathing had quickened as had my heart rate, like I’d just had a nightmare. I told her that’s what happened, and she smiled and kissed me, and pulled me back down into bed again, promising that it was all just a dream and that it’s all over now. 

She didn’t realize how right she was. 

As she draped her bare leg over mine, and pressed her naked breasts into my arm and chest, I felt her hips begin to press into mine. She kissed my cheek and asked if there was anything she could do to get my mind off the nightmare and maybe wear me out so I could go to sleep. My mind had already been made up in that flash of insight. The switch was flipped. I was never going to have a future with her and I knew it…

I reached around and grabbed her waist and pulled her on top of me. She leaned down and kissed me again, then whispered that she was going to make it all better, and gave me a sly smile that I’m sure was meant to sooth my anxieties. All I could think was that this was the last time, so I’d better enjoy it. She kissed me then, and it felt like heaven.

Two days later, as I left her standing in a parking lot crying, wondering what had just happened, I got into my car and texted my date for the evening that I was on my way over, and that I was looking forward to our night of movies and cuddling. 

The good thing about being in a secret relationship is that as soon as you end it, there’s no period of time for other people to wait before asking you over for a booty call or a date. They just think you’re single and available. Two hours after leaving the liar dumbfounded and confused, I was in another bed staring at that ceiling as this new affair pulled my pants down and told me she’d been wanting to do this for a few weeks before when we met at a class on Jewish mysticism.

That fling ended quickly and in a rather dull fashion. 

The liar? Eventually she married her other secret lover that she totally wasn’t dating seriously at the same time she was with me. Last I checked, they’ve got a house, a kid, and a relationship that looks stellar on social media. 

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