My boyfriend of 3 years cheated on me with my best friend about 7 months ago . . . What should I do? We live together now and have been talking about getting married; should I forgive him?
Jaime Van Horne
My Dearest Jaime,
Although I am certain this will come as cold comfort, it is of note that the sum of your years of significant-othership and your months of being deceived is 10—which you, as the wronged female, are likely to think of as being a ">Fury and the Piper—but is, to my mind, a number most appropriately characterized as the mating of Duplicity and Serenity. Of these two, which is your boy-friend and which your friend-friend is an academic matter, but an interesting one, nonetheless.
As you doubtless recall, I made a point of calling an "all hands" meeting last week, in order to address the ongoing problem of temporal displacement in our workplace, which has certainly wreaked havoc upon my attempts to improve our throughput rates, in terms of paperwork and certain filing tasks.
Since most of my staff had been very inconveniently sucked into a time rift a week prior, the only "hands" which arrived in a timely manner were our CPA, Mr. Leeks, and my eldritch graphic designer, Ysslena Almiras of the Miasmic Mists.
"I was under the impression," Mr. Leeks began, checking his watch to note for certain that the meeting had officially begun, "that sandwiches were to be served, as indicated on the announcement memorandum."
"YSSLENA," I began, fixing the weird demi-being with my optically perfect gaze, "I AM SOMEWHAT PIQUED THAT THE FRONT ELEVATIONS FOR THE G.W. BUSH PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY HAVE BEEN RENDERED AT SUCH LOW RESOLUTION IN THE DRAFT POWERED-POINT PRESENTATION AND, TAKING INTO ACCOUNT YOUR USUAL SNAIL'S PACE, I DESPAIR THAT IT SHOULD MEET MY SPECIFICATIONS PRIOR TO THAT DATE."
Ysslena perched upon her her Aeron chair noncommittally, then wrapped her leathern wings about her misbegotten torso and gazed past me, out the window's overlooking Windsor's skyline. Mr. Leeks asked, "Is this a performance review? Because, strictly speaking, these reviews should be conducted with the utmost confiden—"
"ALSO, I REQUIRE THE RETURN OF THE REMAINDER OF MY LABORATORY STAFF, IN EARNEST. SPECIFICALLY, I REQUIRE CLAUDE, BUT WOULD NOT TERRIBLY MIND THE OTHERS, PROVIDED THE CUTTLEFISH IS NOT INCL—"
Ysslena rotated her head 90 degrees counterclockwise along the vertical, which is to say in the manner a clock's hands might move if they were moving backward. She blinked twice, slowly, and then there was the press and shiver of air redistributing itself about the bodies of the remainder of my laboratory staff, dressed in motley rags similar, but far from identical, to those worn when we last met.
"Fuck! Hey!" Rob looked around the lab. He again wore a kilt of metal scales and a poorly constructed mail shirt over a rough hewn barkskin tunic, and his hair was again lank and face scummed with beard, but he was far from the haunted and hunted apparition of a warrior I had seen earlier that day. "Yeah!," he smiled. "Back home again," Rob beamed, toasting an invisible tankard of ale, which he then attempted to quaff, only to look perplexed. "The fuck happened to my brewski?"
I was disappointed to see that they were accompanied by the cuttlefish, Mr. Kalmarrochki, who had somehow acquired or concocted for himself a diminutive clockwork environmental suit, the tiny ape of my own noble velocitator. On his spindly copper legs he skittered and slid, trying to find purchase on the lab's slick linoleum.
"Dick!" he blurted, "I knew gypsy coppersmiths shit me on garbage suit!" He scrambled for footing, like a very old woman being chased across a glassy frozen lake by very hungry wolves.
"We are!" Molly marveled, "We are back. She, too, wore a rough tunic over silken pirate pantaloons—again, like the Molly who had earlier visited and hectored me. But this Molly was yet still possessed of both eyes and neglected to utter vague prophecies, for which I was most grateful.
"Oh, hells yeah!" Devo shouted in his leathered loincloth, dancing a little jig which made the spiders and voles tattooed along his sinewy limbs writhe and dance, "I haven't used a legit toilet in 14 months! I'm gonna shit the shit out of this place!"
Molly laughed and clapped, then clasped the two men in an embrace.
"I AM PLEASED THAT YOU WERE EACH AND ALL CAPABLE OF JOINING ME FOR THIS STAFF MEETING—" I began.
"Lord A!" Rob shouted, "We've been gone for, like, a year. More than a year, and you wanna have a staff meeting? Don't you wanna hear—"
"NO, I DO NOT."
"But," Rob began, "We . . . shit, man, we went through so fucking much. Like, like," his eyes roamed, "Remember Sorrowful Bone Canyon?"
Rob scowled at me, then repeated, "Devo, do you remember the Sorrowful Bone Canyon?"
Devo smiled broadly, "Oh, hells yeah! With that kooky little tavern built of purpled amber just outside of town? The one next to the fallen megahemoth? I tapped mad ass in that place."
"See," Rob continued, turning to me. "We were laid-low in that place for, like, a week; there was some crazy ass Lord of the Rings battle in the Canyon, and this sound—"
Rob's jaw dropped. "Yeah! How do you know about screechers."
"I am all like I have hands growing out of ass!" the cuttlefish exclaimed as he continued to slip and slide, finally coming to rest, thunkingly, underneath Rob's desk."I am ass-handed and turned about. I curse those gypsies in every tongue I know."
And I explained to the returned travelers about the other, markedly more adventuresome, iteration of themselves which had earlier that day graced me with their presence, and the simple fact that those travelers seemed a great deal more heroic than my returned lab cohort.
The crests were visibly fallen.
"So," Molly said carefully. "You're saying that there was another version of us, also in the Summerlands for a year, and that they were all right in the middle of that war, destabilizing the tyranny of the Yellow King and the Polyphony of Shadows while we were boozing it up and laying low?"
I approximated a shrug as best I could, "I AM SAYING NO SUCH THING, AS IT IS OF NO CONSEQUENCE TO ME; TO YOU, IT WAS MORE THAN A YEAR, BUT TO ME, A PLEASANT WEEK FREE OF THE CUTTLEFISH'S YAMMERING."
Who was already grating my dear and infinite brains with his declamations that he was "just fine, exactly" from beneath the table, his claws continually scritching against the floor uselessly.
"You know, I've sorta felt like a pussy in the past," Rob professed. "Like, when there was a chance to do a thing—like, you know, pick up a dude whose truck has slid into a ditch or whatever—and not bothered. But, like, hearing that there is a different me who's all, like, the mad hero of the Orphan Wars . . . I mean, that seems to, like, totally fucking put the lock in. I'm not just a pussy, but I'm the pussiest version of a not-really-brave dude."
Again, I did my best to approximate a shrug, in case the earlier shrug was not sufficiently clear.
"TO THE MATTER AT HAND, DEAR JAIME HAS A CONUNDRUM," and I shared with my staff your state of affairs, directing them to the nearest computer monitor. Rob was the first to look up from the monitor, scratching the small of his back beneath his chainmail shirt where I could see body lice ranging like so many fattened cattle.
"So, like, all three of them were going to get married?"
"I SURMISE IT IS SO."
"Guess they're not in SF," Devo quipped, his mouth pinched sourly.
"FEW POLYGAMISTS ARE."
"I think you guys are being grammar Nazis; she probably means that she and the boyfriend live together and are planning to get married."
"MOLLY," I said pityingly, "WE CAN ONLY GO UPON THE INTELLIGENCE PROVIDED BY OUR SUPPLICANTS, AND, AS WE CANNOT DISCERN THE SPIRIT OF THOSE REQUESTS, WE MUST ABIDE UNSTINTINGLY TO THEIR WORDS."
"Whatever," Molly said, frustrated. "At least we're back in time to see the inauguration," and walked from the lab to the break room and turned on the CNN.
"She should forgive him," Rob said, "But not her friend, but she should still marry them both; that's classic sitcom shit. That's gold."
"But she should hit him with the L'Anse aux Meadows Tickler, so he remembers."
Rob grinned broadly, "Hell yeah! Show the mutherfucker where it's at, right?"
Devo nodded, and so to you, Dear Jaimie, I suggest the following:
Forgive your boyfriend, harbor in your heart spite for your boy's friend, wed them both, and on your wedding night, when your boyfriend approaches you to inject his spermatophores into your dermis with his hypo-penis, swiftly pull betwixt your thrumming corpi a firm, young jellyfish, and watch with merriment as the venom from their nematocytes enters his sensitive penis skin. Oh the capers! Oh the japes he shall make!
"Hey," Molly shouted from the breakroom, "This memo says there are sandwiches; where the hell are the sandwiches."
"THE THIRD ROB NEGLECTED TO RETURN WITH THEM."
"What the hell does that mean?" Rob asked, but it seemed much to explain, so I refused to speak on the matter further.
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