Shannah has a big ass and he’ll probably never love her. It’s sexy now, when they’re 25, but it won’t be ten years from now when they’ve settled down and had kids and she can’t lose the baby weight. However well she knows him, he knows himself better and even if she loves him, even if their children are beautiful and in spite of quiet moments on the couch, all of them intertwined with some cartoon or movie in the background when she catches his eye and he sees the woman he married exactly how she was before the spit up on her shirt or the mess of wrinkles near her eyes from where she’s worried—he will still find it in him to look at younger women on the sidewalk and in commercials, thinking and really believing that he’s missing out, even if he isn’t, even if when he’s with her he doesn’t feel any sense of lacking or want. Even if their sex life is exponentially better than it ever was when her body was younger, more in control—even then he thinks he’ll be looking for something that looks (and therefore must be) better.
Even when his parents die and he doesn’t for a moment think of calling the secretary or barista or bartender he’s been sleeping with, and his wife sits up with him on the porch, holding his hand with the perfect amount of pressure and warmth, without the slightest hint of rush or impatience, eventually the immediate and urgent pain will fade. He’ll start returning the girl’s phone calls, going back to where he knows she’ll be, thinking about what color her underwear is.
Tonight when Shannah asks him, “Where is this going?” her S’s turning into a hiss that smells like beer and Jameson, he’ll end up yelling without wanting to but knowing he has to storm out and not return her phone calls for a while. When he finally does return her phone calls, her messages having evolved from apologetic to angry to hateful, he’ll apologize. He’ll beg her to meet up with him, to get some coffee, to get a drink, to let him stand on her porch while he explains. She’ll say yes because her hate for him is some replica of her mother’s love for her dad, and she’ll sit next to the window until she sees his headlights. She’ll feel nervous like it’s their first date instead of their last. She’ll pretend she’s mad until he gives her a reason, not even a good one, not to.