75: All About Eve

75: All About Eve

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!

All About Eve

O jealousy! thou magnifier of trifles.

~Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller

There, at the bottom of the bedroom closet, I found it — a small slip of paper with the hastily written phone number for a woman named Eve. There was no way to deny the soft bend of my husband Bill’s “v” and the way he crossed his sevens, European-style. It was his handwriting, all right. My hand shook as I tried to imagine a logical explanation for why my husband would have another woman’s phone number hidden in the inner recesses of our closet.

Only moments before, as I readied my suitcase for vacation, I had been thinking that I was the luckiest woman I knew. Bill and I had celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary the previous week with a special dinner at a restaurant where we had one of our first dates. During the meal, he surprised me with the promise of a second honeymoon to take place later that month. Then, after we returned home that evening we watched our wedding video for the first time in years, laughing at how young we once looked and marveling at all we had been through together since then. Illness, family issues, monetary problems — throughout it all, Bill had always been my stabilizing presence. That night, as I laid my head on my pillow, I said a few words of gratitude for my husband and the comfortable rhythm our life had become. Perhaps that was what I had learned to appreciate most about my husband in our twenty years of marriage, I recalled thinking — his ability to remain calm and focused in any crisis, unlike me.

In the early days of our marriage especially, I had more of a tendency toward impulse when faced with problems and it sometimes irritated me that Bill did not have a similar reaction. It took me a while to understand my husband’s more cool and collected ways, as I initially misread his style for lack of concern. Eventually though, I came to value and even strove to emulate his more laidback personality. Yet, as I held the piece of paper upon which he had scrawled another woman’s phone number, I struggled to maintain my composure.

As I looked more closely at the wrinkled slip of paper, I began to plot my plan of action. My first instinct was to call Bill at his office and confront him over the phone. No, that wouldn’t work, I thought. He couldn’t speak freely under those circumstances, and besides, that gave him a full afternoon to conjure up a believable excuse. No matter how painful the truth might be, I needed to know. I had to be logical about this, too, I decided. Further research on my part was imperative before any confrontations took place.

My husband may be cool and calm, but he can also be absentminded. I knew that chances were good that he had forgotten to take his cell phone to work with him. So I did what any suspicious wife might do under such circumstances, I found his phone and checked the recently dialed numbers. And there it was — Eve’s phone number — dialed only once, yet dialed just the same. I marched over to my computer, signed onto the Internet and commenced a full-out search for her.

However, my search through various telephone company reverse directories brought up little of a definitive nature. The only information I could confirm was that the phone number was attached to a landline in Pennsylvania, one state over from our home in New York. Pennsylvania? When did Bill go to Pennsylvania? He did sometimes travel for business, yet those trips had taken him out west or to the south, not to Pennsylvania. I recalled all his stories about morning presentations and stuffy afternoon meetings with fellow engineers, the majority of whom were older men. Had there been one seductive woman in a conference group who had caught my husband’s eye? Had they met after meetings for drinks, dinner or perhaps a dip in the hotel’s Jacuzzi? Or worse? My head began to pound. I just didn’t have the strength to imagine the “worse.”

Back in my bedroom, I pushed my suitcase aside and tried to do the same with all the thoughts that kept spinning around my head. Still, they kept resurfacing. The irony of the whole situation seemed surreal: finding another woman’s number while packing for a second honeymoon, and the woman being so aptly named after the Biblical temptress, Eve.

Yet determined to go about my day, I proceeded with my usual tasks — focusing on some work deadlines, running a few errands and finally returning home to cook dinner. When my husband walked through the front door that evening, he seemed so genuinely glad to see me, even complimenting my new hairstyle. The predicament I found myself in seemed impossible. Maybe I really had misread his collected manner, I thought. Maybe he had been nothing more than a big phony all along. As we sat across from each other at the kitchen table that evening, I barely lifted my gaze from my dinner plate.

“Something wrong?” he asked. “You seem so quiet.”

“No,” I mumbled. “Just eating.”

True to my husband’s nature, he made no further ado and after finishing his meal, Bill cleared his place and took his usual seat on the living room sofa to watch the evening news. A few moments later I followed him into the living room, carrying the slip of paper in my hand. Quietly, I sat down and laid it between us. “Would you like to tell me about this?” I asked.

Bill lifted the paper toward his eyes and squinted at the scratchy handwriting. “That’s a Pennsylvania area code,” he said.

I watched as the wheels turned in his head. Here it comes, I thought. Here comes one good story.

His eyes drew into little slits as he concentrated on the number. “Oh, now I know. Eve. That’s the phone number for my cousin Evelyn in Easton. I called her from my cell phone to ask about her father when he was in the hospital.” He handed me the piece of paper. “Don’t you recognize the number? I copied it out of your phone book.”

No, I didn’t recognize it. Or did I? I slipped into the bedroom where I took my phone book from the nightstand and compared the numbers. It was Cousin Evelyn’s.

Feigning nonchalance, I returned to my seat on the sofa. After a few minutes, Bill turned to me, “Did you think I had gotten another woman’s phone number?”

“Well…” I started.

Bill gave a low chuckle and tickled my cheek. “Crazy.”

Me, crazy? Maybe. But still the luckiest woman I know.

 

~Monica A. Andermann

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