Misters and mattresses

Jan 8th, 2008 | By | Category: Ministry

I was introduced to two men seated on stools at the hotel bar. There followed the usual handshakes and meaningless conversation where everyone said as little as possible in as many words as possible. My friend nodded to a table in the far corner of the room and we picked up our glasses, exchanged more pointless words with the bar stoolers and moved to the table.

Sitting down, he spoke with vehemence. “A pair of losers! They both had lovely wives, lovely kids, and they both went off with younger women. Now they both live alone in apartments and sit at bars. They cause who knows what pain and hurt to their families and they end up sitting here on a Thursday night. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s adultery!”

“I thought I was the religious one”, I said. My friend half-smiled; neo-liberal in his economic views, libertarian in his view of society, an agnostic atheist in religion, he did not strike me as someone who would suddenly strike up a strong moral stance.

“Don’t you agree with me?” he said, leaning forward across the table.

“Of course”, I said.

I pondered his words. Breaking promises, betraying people, destroying the home life of your kids, are issues for everyone, not just religious people. I pondered the endless hurt and pain I had seen in twenty years in parishes.

Perhaps it is the male hormones or the fragile male psyche, but most times it seems to be the men who go, often to become involved with women a good deal younger in relationships that don’t last. Perhaps it’s just a vindication of Richard Dawkins’ arguments about the selfish gene.

Turning on the computer before seven this morning, the BBC homepage opened in my browser. Emblazoned across the top of the page was a headline advertising their latest drama “Mistresses”. The blurb declared that “Mistresses” was “a sexy, sophisticated and bold take on the lives of four women and their involvement in an array of illicit and complex relationships”.

Sexy? Sophisticated? Even in expensive Dublin suburbia words like ‘sexy’ and ‘sophisticated’ would not spring to mind regarding someone having a mistress. Sad and sordid seem more appropriate descriptions in a world where it’s real people who are getting hurt.

My companion from the hotel bar is currently the other side of the Atlantic, so I cannot ask him if he thinks the men from the bar stools would qualify as ‘sexy and sophisticated’.

Leave a comment »

  1. Speaking as a neo-liberal, libertarian, agnostic atheist maybe I can speak on his behalf?

    There is nothing sexy or sophisticated about betrayal. I may have some pretty outlandish views on some topics, but I am a firm believer in the old values of honesty and fidelity. I have witnessed nothing but heartache brought about by infidelity, in particular for the children.

    We live in a time of change, but some things should remain cast in stone. A promise is a promise.

  2. Grandad,

    I’m not sure you would qualify as “neo-liberal”; libertarian and agnostic, I would accept.

    I don’t understand how on the one hand most people would agree on the need for a secure and stable society for our kids and at the same time think that infidelity is entertaining. Would we contemplate a series on conmen ripping off families and bill it as ‘cunning and compelling’?

  3. How about ‘neo-liberal fascist with leftish tendencies’?

    I suppose those people who would find mistresses sexy and sophisticated are the same sad souls who wallow in the inane lives of ‘celebrities’ and ‘socialites’. There seems to be a need these days to peek beneath the bedsheets of society.

    I’m very surprised at the BBC sinking to that level though. It sounds more like the gutter press to me?

  4. I don’t think anything surprises me anymore!

    The speed of Ireland’s descent into mediocrity has been depressing. Back in the ’80s there were three broadsheet papers in Dublin, they mightn’t have been too intellectual and they might have been biased, but they tried to be proper papers. Now we are overrun by the English tabloids which have brought with them the cult of the “celebrity” and have replaced news about real things with pointless gossip about people.

  5. Agree with you, speaking as someone with first hand knowledge, It might be tempting to stray but believe me it is not worth the hurt it causes to all concerned. I will be watching Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on Channel 4. As far as the English tabloids are concerned full of biased rubbish that belongs in the gutter.Its a shame to hear Irelands values are sinking down towards this country’s

  6. As a pre-curser to this tyrade – I am the ‘mistress’ of the over generalisation.

    Oooh. . .I missed this one this morning and having been alterted to my ‘diffidence’ am compelled to comment. I could write a book on this. What sort of infidelity – a fling, casual sex, an affair or hedging their bets in a new relationship before they leave the old? Les . . not even going to ask about your ‘personal knowledge (just wanted you to know that it didn’t slip by unnoticed! hehe)

    I’d rather comment on infidelity than celebrity. They’re just spoiled junkies who need the press coverage.

    Apparently Northern Irelanders are particularly bored with life and straying from the nuptual bed or so a new survey by InsideDivorce.com, reported by Relate Northern Ireland.

    Now, men particularly, are just not designed for monogomy otherwise, like women, they would cease to be fertile beyond a certain age (which also suggests they’re not meant to remain with an infertile partner). We’re told that men think about sex every 15 minutes apparently. They need excitement,the thrill of the chase although thankfully,most are like a border collie chasing a car they have no idea what to do with it when they catch it. I strongly believe that if it was socially acceptable, more men would have a fling or prefer more than one partner for life.

    I think too that men suffer emotional mid-life crises rather than the physical changes endured by women. They need to know they are still desirable, still virile, that they’ve still got ‘it’ and that their mojo is still workin’. Hence the propensity to go for younger women which is really unfair on us old boilers cos we’d like a bit of the action too! (and before you think I’m up for an affair, I’m a merry widow and painfully single!)

    Morally, a commitment is a commitment. Although making one for life is a difficult thing. If the relationship isn’t good then painful as it might be, move away from it. Infidelity on both sides is ‘hedging your bets’. Making sure you get your jollies without losing the security of a stable relationship. It’s double-dipping and morally corrupt in my book.

    As far as the language of infidelity, there’s nothing sexy or sophisticated about cheating on someone no matter who you are but whether turning this into a drama is reactive or proactive, I don’t know.

    Phew . . right . . is that diffident enough for you boys!

Leave Comment