Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Spinning The Wheel

It seems that unbeknownst to my conscious being, I am engaged in a high stakes game of chicken, maybe with Carrie but more likely with myself. Now to understand my involvement with any sporting contest, one should know a little about me and gambling.

Years before Jeanette Winterson wrote in The Passion that gambling only mattered when the stakes had meaning - true meaning - my girlfriend and I took up gambling. Twenty-three years old, the Grand Casino in Monte Carlo, the Casino in Cannes – if one is going to gamble, one should get style points. A roulette wheel, patience, and innocence: we would watch the wheel and if red or black came up 5 times in a row, we would bet the opposite. Same color again – double up. So for three nights we made a few francs and occupied ourselves feeling much older than we ever were.

The last night – five reds, time to play. Six reds, seven, eight – things were getting ugly. Finally in a moment of desperation we remembered to cover the 0 – a few chips in case there is no red or blue. The wheel spins, the ball bounces…. ZERO: a pile of chips – no, a mountain of chips. Thirty six to one. Maybe $1,000 and we are even – only even, but that sure beats having to catch the next flight home. Thirty years later – I do not gamble. There is nothing – nothing – that can occur in a casino that will ever match the emotions of that spin.

So here is this confirmed non-gambler sitting with Bob, my therapist, discussing putting my life back together. He is telling me of the road to rebuilding trust with Carrie, of how we can manage to include my homo-erotic fantasies as an aid – not an impediment – to our love life. It all seems so clear. Then I realize a basic assumption of his – Carrie becomes a part of my fantasy life and I stop my wandering. Based on all I have told him – my love, my devotion – quite the reasonable assumption: But not at all what I was thinking.

This is not the moment for a well chosen phrase, a nicely crafted sentence. I blurt out - I waited 30 years to be fucked, now I have done it twice, enjoyed it, so I should just stop? (Yes, I share the embarrassment you undoubtedly feel just reading it.) Of course I realize that the moment of stopping will come – but not quite yet.

And thus we get to the gamble: Carrie has expressed patience, she is waiting for me to work things out, and I want to use every minute on the clock. A two-minute drill where I will use my time-outs, the two minute warning, the sideline patterns, and I will get a lot of plays off – more hook-ups, more being fucked. Of course the problem is there is no end zone clock counting down, just a wife who is suffering. Just a wife who may wake up one day and declare the game is over.

My hubris is my deeply held belief that even then – at that last moment – I can declare it was all a mistake, a big misunderstanding – a “Honey, I’m home moment.” And of course that moment can still occur today – much damage to repair, but repairable all the same.

But there is a line which once crossed leaves no room for return. Carrie is in therapy – she goes stronger and more confident and there will come a day when I will have lost my gamble. Back on March 9th I posted “One More Drink” – a walk away from the “bar” while considering my options. I did not walk away then.

If Carrie was reading this post her comment would be simple – I can hear it clearly: She would say the issue is not if I will take a step back: it is if I can. And the answer is simple: in spite of fully understanding that I must, I am still not sure if I can.


Anonymous said...

Well, it also sounds like an issue of control, and being in control of what you want and your own future. If you take the gamble route, and let the chips fall as they may, you are deciding to let Carrie make the decision for you. Visa versa, and you are making the decision for her.

I hope that you can try and decide together. Figure out what you both want, and see if you can both live within that framework. If not, then you can both decide what's best for you are individuals, and as a couple.

OK, I know this sounds like risk management applied to a marriage -- and maybe this is a stretch but I do believe it is do-able. Good luck, Nate.

The Troll said...


You know where this is coming from, and therefore how much credibility to give it. But gambling is not something to do with a heart, let alone two.

You have an incredible advantage in that your wife is willing to contemplate staying, and that you are not [that I've noticed] talking about an emotional connection to another man, which is was brought death to our relationship. You have to decide what you want, and then she has to decide if she can live with it. Until you know what you want -- and finding that out may mean talking to her a lot -- you will be doing something even more dangerous than gambling.

You are both in my thoughts and prayers, thoug neither are particularly together these days. I don't know if either of YOU pray, but this might not be a bad time to try.


bear said...

(Hurray! Drew's still around!!)
Drew and Troll's comments make a heck of a lot of sense to me.
I see how this is a lot like gambling, but only as long as you stay "undecided." It doesn't have to be like that. You both can decide what you want and figure it out together, then it's not this game of chance but a planned decision that would have the best options for both. (Easier said than done of course.) I also believe this is do-able considering your good relationship and open communication...
I'm a little suspicious about some of the phrases like: "putting your life back together" and "step back" mixed with your "I've waited 30 years" phrase...not sure if they all can exist exclusively. I believe it'll be more like a "discovery" or something completely "new."

woe said...

I could only echo what is already said.

I do believe you have an exceptional wife .

Paul said...

Nate -

I don't mean this to be condescending, but I'm not sure you can ... or rather I'm not sure you should ... position life as a game. Particularly a game of chance. To some degree I think if forces individuals to take sides.

I'd much rather be supportive of all the players.

I also think Dane made a very perceptive comment back on your post of 3/9. "... being bisexual doesn't mean you're going to cheat. As you point out, regardless of sexual definition, attraction doesn't go away, but if you're in a monogamous relationship, then the work isn't to stop being attracted, but to control your impulses." (... assuming Carrie is going to require a monogamous relationship and you agree with that).

- - - - - - -

Drew and Woe -- it's great to hear from you!