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 Category:  Biographical Non-Fiction
  Posted: November 8, 2013      Views: 800
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Baby Boomer pondering how past affects the present and future. "A writer come-lately" loaded with life experience:pioneer of surrogacy and mother to smallest preemie born 27 years ago.

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Chapter 11 of the book My Almost Cashmere Life
Who is this woman, this affair?
"She Came Casually" by maggieadams

She arrived casually one Sunday afternoon, tapping gently on our front door. Having been introduced at a neighborhood party a few weeks before, we invited her in. She easily joined us on our green leather sofa, nestling in between us as the kick-off was about to begin. She was fun and entertaining; quite alluring, especially to him. We were in our first year of marriage, so I was more reserved, wary of this inexplicable intruder. She left quietly after the final whistle, thanking us for our hospitality, so why was I so uneasy?

Without an invite, she showed up again the next weekend. On Saturday, she was decked out in Oregon gear, the 'telltale' lemon yellow and green of the Seventies. On Sunday, she came in 49er gear, ready to watch the NFL game of the week; coincidentally, she wanted the same teams to win as he did. Was this a come-on? Did she find total agreement attractive? As the weeks went by, she became a familiar fixture in our house during game days. They rooted for the same teams; no rivalries ever ensued between them. Sometimes, I rooted for a different team, especially for my Beavers. I was a true fan. They were fickle, depending on who was favored. How could they root for a team one week and then the next week, root against them? I became concerned, but also conflicted. She was generous and open, charming and inclusive. Bottom line: we had fun as a threesome.

Weeks turned into years. She was moody and at times manic, running hot and cold. She bought us TV's for every room, so they could watch multiple games throughout the season. She started coming over on Monday nights and then Thursdays. Football surrounded us in every room and on every channel, then basketball and baseball. They rigged up a TV in the bedroom so it could bounce off of the closet mirrors. They could be in the family room watching one game while viewing a different game from the mirrors. My brain could not reverse the image from the mirrors which reflected backwards. If a score on the bedroom TV read 41-12, it really meant 14-21. No matter, they were delirious.

He mastered the remote which was a marvel in itself because he knew nothing about technology, still unable to use simple e-mail to this day. He counted on me to do every mechanical and electronic chore in our house. He never fixed one thing or used one tool, but she forced him to learn every detail, so they could watch numerous games at the flick of a button. He bragged that he never saw a commercial and could keep track of about five games at once. Her beguiling charm hooked him into full submission; she became his meth, his drug of choice. I did not want to be friends anymore. I wanted her out of our house, but I could not budge her.

My wariness spawned confrontation and idle threats, so they went underground. Even though they snuck around, they left a trail of evidence. Shady local bookies, her sycophants, and offshore accounts needed to be contacted and fed. I found evidence of her under the bed and in the trunk of his car: secret codes in large money amounts were scribbled on his long yellow legal pads. My idle threats went unheeded. He would never cut her loose, so I 'went along to get along,' ignoring my instincts and values.

When our daughters finally arrived, she lavished them with gifts. They did not know life without her. She was a generous relative, an eccentric aunt, always doling out money in $100 bills. She sent us all to Europe several times with her ample blessings--Hawaii every winter; Sun Valley every summer. Designer jeans, Ugg boots, Urban Outfitter skirts, manicures, pedicures--would she ever stop? How could I send her out of my children's lives? Was this normal? Was this crazy? Was there a downside, a day of reckoning? For sure, chaos swirled around us, but it had become the only life we had ever known. We were held captive without really understanding how.

The only time we ever got a break from her was when he was in trial. The courtroom gave him the same risks and rewards she provided. He controlled his environment masterfully, garnishing the admiration and attention he craved. He sent her packing because even bigger money was at stake, and he bet on his own abilities of persuasion which fulfilled his high-risk desires. Only then did we get a reprieve and a glimpse what it would be like without her.

Sports was not Aunty's only fascination, especially after the Indian casinos were built. Trips to our beach house included her. The girls and I did not see them much, for they became mad for Blackjack and Craps and made hit-and-run trips to the casinos, always bearing gifts upon their return. Intermixed with the trips to Indian casinos were trips to Las Vegas--her Mecca. She introduced us to the grandiose spectacle of Vegas with all its glitter and convinced him he was a VIP. He loved the seduction, the risk and the attention.

With his VIP status, everything was 'comped'. We feasted on lavish dinners at Caesar's Palace, the Venetian, New York New York, Paris, Bellagios, the Monte Carlo, to name a few. She reserved the fanciest penthouse suites with sweeping vistas of the Vegas Strip. She lured us to the tables on the casino floor after we dropped our girls and suitcases in the suites. I rationalized that the fruit baskets, chocolates and luxurious surroundings of gold-piped pillows, scented soaps, and wide-screened TVs could sustain and entertain our girls, who were too young to be in the casino. Looking back, I succumbed to her to please him, allowing emotional abuse of my innocent daughters.

Sometimes, however, he would present us with bundles of money, and we three girls would go on a wild shopping spree in the facsimile of the Roman Forum. Fountains with Roman gods and an ever-changing fake sky created the ambiance as we strolled the outlandishly expensive stores and munched on Wolfgang Puck's designer food. As we sat eating our Caesar salads and Italian infused raviolis, the stars overhead twinkled in a pitch black sky. By the time we were picking at our rum-soaked tiramisu, the sky glowed pink and orange, bringing forth a magnificent sunrise.

As we were arising from our table after paying an exorbitant bill, huge marble statues sprang from the deafening white water fountains where rhetoric of ancient Rome spewed forth: "Hail Caesar" boomed throughout the fake Forum as the sunset hovered above, giving rise to the moon. Such decadence.

She wreaked havoc on his sleep, so he turned to wine and Ambien. When we were home, he could pour himself into his bed and sedate his brain to slumber, but Vegas required more ammunition: four or five comped bottles of the finest red wine and a couple of 'uncomped' Ambien in order to grab a few hours of sleep.

One night, I was surprised when the girls and I returned to our suite around midnight, and their dad was stark naked on top of his bed, snoring loudly. I managed to get him tucked away before I tiptoed across the art-deco hallway to join the girls in the second bedroom. Several hours later, the doorbell rang and rang and rang, waking me with a startle. Imagine my astonishment when I opened the door, and he walked in without a stitch, still in the buck-naked stage. Apparently, he had been sleepwalking, even took an elevator a couple of floors down. He vaguely remembered that people in the elevator were averting their eyes...ooh, what a late night 'gross' out , even for Vegas. How he managed not to be caught on video and arrested for indecent exposure spoke volumes about his Teflon character.

To be fair, memories were made--not all bad. Las Vegas entertainment is world class. We saw magic shows, Cirque de Soleil, Celine Dion, Bette Midler, Elvis impersonators, Garth Brooks and beyond, all the way to a Mike Tyson boxing match which was stopped in the first round. The entourages and sycophants, often times one and the same, belied reality. We got caught in this fake reality because a bubble surrounded every VIP on the Strip, protecting them from seeing the underbelly of addiction that propped up this fantasy.

Bubbles eventually pop.

Non-Fiction Writing Contest contest entry


The book continues with Unsafe Neighborhoods. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
I lived under the roof with this addicted man for over 30 years until I had the courage to end this madness. Gambling addiction is real and destructive. I have not set foot in a casino since nor have I watched sports on TV, except, of course, my beloved Beavers. In this extended metaphor, replace "gambling" with "she" and voila, she comes into focus.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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