Friends and fellows and lovely ladies,
I beg you not to fall in love with a married man.
When he looks at you, your skin turns hot. When he kisses you, you feel it in your elbows, your toes. Your cheek against his cheek. The barometric pressure dropping when your fingers touch.
The people who love you say you deserve better.
You’ve never made out in so many cabs, steadying yourself to keep your cheekbones safe from plexiglass. You go all over the city, throwing back oysters at fancy places and wrapping yourselves in parts of each other—legs in legs, fingers in fingers.
He can write you love letters but you can’t reciprocate, lest they be discovered. You can take pictures of him, rolling up his sleeves and squinting into the sunlight, but there can be no pictures of you together, faces close, eyes shiny.
You dream about the wife. You dream you are sharing her cocktail, then she is pouring pickle juice over your head until your lips are caked in brine.
Before you say goodnight to him, you stop for three ice creams, one for her and one for you and one for him. You go home and look at yourself in the mirror and think, “what the fuck are you doing.”
He takes you shopping, buys you whatever you like, sneaks into the dressing room to put his hand on your stomach, the backs of your legs. He takes you on a boat ride on a hot day, and then he is always having to run, and apologizing.
Don’t call, he says. Don’t text, he says. Stick to email. So you do. You make up secret codes. Smiley emoticons mean “I’m with you, I love you.”
He is not going to leave his wife for you, everyone says, but he does. You stay with him at a hotel for a week, then at a friend’s house. You do his laundry. You buy him boxers, because he needs boxers. You leave the room when the wife calls.
Later, you help him move into an apartment in Soho. You sit cross-legged on the floor, counting the 84 beams that make up his new Ikea bed frame. You fall off the ladder, painting his bedroom a cool sage-grey, and he photographs the green-blue bruises that creep up your thighs.
You go for long walks and stop every block to kiss and kiss and leave your hand on his shoulders and his hand on your ribcage. You cook expensive steaks and feed each other saucy bites. You drink cocktails on rooftops and dance.
You have dirty jokes, and inside jokes. Sometimes, you fight. You cry into the soft space between his face and shoulders, because you are violently sad. You love him, deeply, and you hate this.