Selective Sinning. Bruce McCorkill August 2015

We were lying entwined in our post coital languor, when I idly raised the concept of sin. I had been educated in a strict Catholic school, with the nuns continually warning us about all types of sin and the awful consequences. Luckily, this was all in a long gone life, but occasionally I mused over the types of sinning people indulged in.

I asked Brett, “do you think what we are doing is really sinning?”

“Of course not sweetheart” said Brett. “We aren’t hurting anybody are we, just having fun.” This was typical of Brett, he was the pragmatic one; in advertising, he could put a positive spin on a square rock. “Speaking of the subject,” he said, let’s spend a bit of time looking at sin, We can check out the seven deadly sins, see how we go on a scale of seven, I bet you we’ll score really low.”

This sounded interesting, more fun than discussing boring old virtues.

We quickly disposed of the minor sins. Gluttony and sloth for example played no part in our lives. We were both extremely busy people, in highly paid corporate jobs, there was simply no time to be lazy or wasting time eating, and becoming fat and ugly. That would not be a good corporate look. It was more fun spending time making money. We followed the Gordon Gekko stockbroker motto, ‘lunch is for wusses.’

Maybe we suffered a little from pride, but in a good way. Both of us were proud of our careers, our families, our possessions and ourselves. There was no need to suffer from envy, as we both had it all, success and our great relationship. It was actually enjoyable watching people look at us enviously as we entered fancy restaurants, a well groomed successful pair, alighting from expensive cars. Although we did have to be careful where we were seen.

As far as greed went, yes, we both suffered badly. Greed for more quality time with each other. Our times together were limited to quick lunches, followed by afternoon trysts, overnight conference excuses. Once, we even managed to spend a whole week together in a little cabin in the high country, and that was just fantastic. We needed more, but that was not possible.

So that left lust, and naturally enough, in our stolen times together, we deliciously indulged in the sin of lust. I sometimes wondered if we dressed this up as love. Someone once said that women pretend lust to gain love, and that men pretend love to gain lust. Maybe that is true, I didn’t want to believe it, all that I knew is that we were happy with what we had, no matter what name it went by.

Brett being the pragmatic one, figured that once a line had been drawn and crossed, querying about the size or shape of the line was just plain semantics. You just continued on to the next line. Meaning, just enjoy it while we can. So I went along with him.

I almost forgot about the sin of wrath, probably because I have never been really angry at anybody. There was never any reason to be. Life was sweet. Until that afternoon.

We stepped out of the hotel doorway, after our Friday afternoon tryst. Suddenly, a couple came out a doorway down the street. The light was fading and I couldn’t see them clearly. They were dressed smartly, nicely groomed, but with the slightly disarrayed appearance of dressing hurriedly, clothes not totally neat. An appealing looking couple, they seemed to be in love, and parting for the day. They embraced and kissed. Not a passionate kiss, but a long lingering touch of the lips, the familiar type which lovers do to farewell this time, but giving a promise of next time. The diffused light gave their faces a soft glowing look, and seemed to highlight a reluctance to leave their embrace. Finally after a final fleeting hug and familiar caress they briskly strolled towards us, almost like stepping into another life.

I watched their ritual, like a voyeur, gaining a vicarious pleasure from their show of feelings. Their silhouettes seemed familiar, and as they turned towards us under a street light, I suddenly realised why. I jerked Brett behind a shrub. But our eyes had briefly locked, and recognition mutually flashed.

We knew this couple, extremely well. In fact, they were part of our life. But not in this situation. We knew them through work and socially. Our kids went to the same schools, played the same sports and shared friends. We had partied together, been on neighbourhood committees. They were our friends. The problem was, the man walking away was my husband and the woman was Brett’s wife.

That’s when I truly realised what the sin of wrath meant. A hard molten ball of white heat formed in my gut. Then this ball exploded through my whole body, up into my chest where my heart started to pound, into my temples, which constricted into a fiery bridle around my brain. My fists tightly clenched and my jaw did the same. My eyes felt like burning lasers as they stared at the couple. I realised then why people kill, because I wanted to hurt the couple, if I had a weapon handy I would have tried this. My husband, the cheating bastard.

I managed to hiss at Brett. “Did you recognise that couple?”

“No” he said with a laugh. “I didn’t get a good look, all I know is that from their actions, they seemed to know each other quite well, shall we say. Looks as though they had a fun afternoon, just like us. Wonder what they scored out of seven.”

“Brett, that was my husband Jack.”

He just chuckled. “So what, why are you angry with him. He’s only doing with that woman what you are doing with me. You’re both a couple of cheaters.”

“Brett, that so called cheating woman, having fun with my husband, having a great sinful afternoon, was actually your wife. And they saw us.”

At this he groaned and closed his eyes. I was expecting him to explode with anger, like me, to display wrath towards his wayward wife. I hoped that this might be the trigger to thrash things out with our respective spouses. We had frequently said if push came to shove we could discard our partners and start a new life together.

But all I saw in his eyes was a second of calculation. He always was a good numbers man, great at calculating odds and risks. I could see the choice in his eyes. Retaining his comfortable life style, house, possessions, versus the disruption of going off with me, his supposed love, but in reality his bit of fluff on the side. I could see him mentally building his story to his wife that night. To reassure her that she was his real true love, I was just a passing distraction.

I again felt wrath that afternoon – towards Brett. But it was just a sad tragic anger towards a sad tragic man. My anger turned to disgust. As we walked back to the car, together but apart, I saw him surreptiously glancing at any attractive woman walking by. He was already planning his next adventure . With someone like me who was prepared to conveniently confuse love and lust.

My feelings then turned into envy. For all the women who somehow against all odds, find a simple decent guy. Someone to be rightfully proud of.

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