Six feet tall.
Lightly tanned olive skin.
Broad-shouldered and sculpted
Full lips hinting of a ready and irresistible smile
Thick, wavy brown hair alive with an unencumbered and cheeky spring to it.
His entry into the lift at Princess Margaret Hospital for Children was as untimely as it was exciting. Untimely due to the emotional time-bomb ticking away in me and exciting, I know, for my wife standing behind me just shy of my peripheral vision.
I am in the hospital where my daughter had been admitted some days prior after experiencing a serious, bone-breaking car accident and I’m extremely worried and upset for her. I’m on a tight-rope! I found her at the scene of the accident along with her three cousins and her best friend.
My emotions are all but spent. I’m sleep-deprived and ragged. I’m unkempt and in the same clothes as the day before and the day before that.
On top of that I’ve been questioning my attributes as a husband for some months now with a wife I am failing to please. And worst of all, I have just been in the bathroom where a glimpse of myself in the mirror lends credence to the fact that this same wife had lied to me all those years with a seemingly innocent, albeit considerate “yes” each time I asked her if I was better looking than the handsome actor before us on TV.
It’s amazing how much sediment boils its way to the surface at times like this. Jealousies re-ignite. Trivial emotions burst like boils. Suddenly I hate all my wife’s old boyfriends (and they’re nice guys) and memories, once benign, fester, crackle and metastasize. What did she really mean last year when she nonchalantly said, “Guys look better with their clothes on than off!”
At the time I confidently laughed with her whilst conveniently (and naively) changing her words in my head to, ”Other guys look better with their clothes on than off!”
Feeling like a defeated fighter after a twelve-round cage fight, I slouched against the wall of the elevator, haggard and gelded to await the next round of tears and anguish with my daughter as it approached ward 17 when suddenly a “ding” above signaled the impending arrival of another passenger. His entrance through the sliding doors was akin to a fresh fighter entering the cage to thump me all over again. He was beautiful. He was the picture I never was and had no hope of ever becoming and as I fixed my sorry eyes upon him I knew with a defeated sigh that standing behind me my wife would be lovingly caressing him with her beautiful eyes but with an entirely different set of emotions and unwittingly making a lie of her clothing statement.
Then to add insult to injury his already gleaming list of gifts grew to include making his nurse’s uniform look sexy, remaining casually and irresistibly aloof while he studied his clipboard, being just boy-next-door enough to be straight and obviously loving kids as he worked in a hospital for children for God’s sake!
I didn’t look at my wife while we continued our journey to the ward. I was void of the strength needed to endure her attempt to hide what she couldn’t.
She has never mentioned him to me. Her considered silence; my fears confirmed!