When Linda cheated

Here’s where Linda intervenes. Nothing happened the way I had expected. Linda’s escapade did not come as a total shock. She was a beautiful, impetuous creature and — adding to her allure — she played the guitar and knew the lyrics to all the folk songs of that time. She introduced me to “The Prophet,” coffeehouses and foreign films.

I had always known precisely how I would react if she cheated on me. The relationship would end, swiftly, coldly, even sneeringly. My goodbye lines would be scathing, worthy of someone intending to make his living with words. But when she cried, when she begged, when she — let’s be honest here — looked so damned good, I wanted only to remain with this woman. Her betrayal was in the past. A whole future lay ahead. It could be wonderful. It turned out I valued Linda more than I was appalled by her infidelity.

This was a lesson to me. I did not behave as I had expected, and I do not — I cannot — ask anything more from others. I cannot gauge their love and I do not know their needs and I do not know what they value most. In the end, it was not Linda’s folk songs that taught me a lesson or her mushy philosophy or her cloying search for beauty, but her infidelity. I have the wisdom of the uncertain. I now know what I do not know.