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’.