The Incident of Maxine Allaire
A woman bests her husband & learns revenge is a dish best served cold, with a martini.
This is Maxine Allaire, and just yesterday I was lying in the bed of my lover thinking of how to get back at my husband for the affair I discovered he’s having. As a man, my husband…Frank…has every privilege under the sun, so sleeping around outside the marriage is one I thought to be mine and mine alone. So as you can imagine, on this particular Thursday morning I was less enamored with the fresh love letter Harold left on the nightstand and more concerned with the matter of revenge. And what made matters worse was this: I had discovered the lady in question was none other than my personal shopper, Clarisse.
The man is not only taking my only freedom as his own, he’s crossing into my domain.
Have I ever walked into Schubert, Shuster & Stratton and made passionate love to my husband’s boss on top of his mahogany desk? No…
Forgive the pause…presently this is striking me as an interesting idea in the way of revenge. But, I’ll abandon it. Two men is manageable, three would be unbearable. Take Harold’s rumpled shirt on the chaise yesterday…or that love letter on the nightstand…everything about this affair gets more and more tiresome by the hour.
But back to yesterday.
As I lay there staring, I decided to do the only thing I could think of at that moment…go shopping. With Clarisse. Sometimes it’s important to put oneself right in the lion’s den. Face your fears and all that.
When Clarisse met me at the door, I couldn’t help but notice a freshness about her she’d never had before. Whether it was new contouring or new context, I’d never know for sure.
“My husband is having an affair.” I expressed, in the most distraught voice I could muster as I tried on a satin gown in the dressing room. I watched a small hint of panic flicker across Clarisse’s face. She recovered.
“I’m sure that’s not true!” Clarisse chimed in, brightly, as she helped me out of my dress. “Your husband is so devoted to you. I’ve seen it. It’s what every girl like me dreams of. You come into the shop, he dotes on you, and I watch in wonder hoping that one day I’ll experience the very same thing. It’s why I’ve thought long and hard about making the trip to America.”
What a proclamation.
I pride myself in never being lost for words, but this speech left me tongue-tied. I stood there in my slip and watched Clarisse, utterly impressed in spite of myself. What a natural she is at lying through her teeth. I couldn’t help but wonder if there was much to learn from this young girl in the way of deception. But now I had a plan of my own…
“America? Why don’t you go? It’s magnificent.” I asked.
I detest America.
Clarisse was thrown off by the question, as if she didn’t remember making the comment to begin with.
“Oh I — well I love my job here.” She said.
Right. That job is mounting my husband in the leather club chair in his study.
It’s then I suddenly noticed she was dressed better than the last time I saw her. And there were new earrings, to add insult to injury. Pearls. Big ones. How generous of Frank.
“Anyway I am telling you.” I said, “He is madly in love with this other woman. How I envy her. I can see it in his eyes. He just cannot live without her. I haven’t seen him this way in years.”
At this, Clarisse could not help but tremble happily as she brought me a silk skirt. I slipped it on. I turned for her to do the zip and then before she could respond, I too lied through my teeth…
“What’s worse, I have an emerald and diamond necklace that’s gone missing. At first I thought it had been stolen, but then I saw Frank leave the house with it. Can you believe it? He took the necklace practically off my back, and gave it to this woman.”
That’s when the zipper hit my skin abruptly.
“Clarisse!” I chided, angrily.
But of course, I was delighted.
Clarisse was bright red. “I’m so sorry.” She stammered. Then she slowly zipped the skirt up, lost in thought.
I turned from Clarisse and forgot myself for a moment, noticing how great the skirt looked. I swiveled in the mirror. It’s amazing what fabric or a martini can do for the spirit.
“When was this?” Clarisse asked, far too eagerly.
“When was what?” I replied.
“Your necklace — when did it go missing? Today?” Clarisse said, hopefully and shakily.
“Oh that.” I said, casually. “Weeks ago I’m afraid. Doesn’t surprise me, the man has always been cheap. Gives his mistress my necklace rather than buy her a new one. It’s just like him. He thought I wouldn’t miss it. Then again it’s symbolic, isn’t it? Gives her the very necklace he gave me on our fifth wedding anniversary. She must be the one.”
Then there was a silence heard round the world. Clarisse stared down at her shoes, forgetting she was supposed to comfort me in my time of need, apparently.
“Clarisse…are you all right? You’ve gone pale.” I asked. The worried look of concern I was feigning was spectacular. I wish you’d have been there to see it, really.
“I’m fine.” Clarisse mustered after another long silence. “Something I ate I think.” Clarisse walked away from me and picked a particularly odious hat from the corner. I saw there were tears in her eyes, and for a moment I felt sorry for her.
I wish Clarisse could understand she had simply picked the wrong husband. Not because I love my husband. I by no means do. But because if you knew me better, you’d know I am a very proud person. I don’t like being caught off guard. And I certainly don’t like being betrayed without my consent. If Frank had brought up the topic of sleeping with my personal shopper over dinner, this may have gone differently. But unfortunately, he didn’t. Like every man, he bumbles his way through things. He doesn’t think.
When I returned home, I went straight to my jewelry box and got the diamond and emerald necklace. I hid it where Frank would never find it…in the stove. Then I rang for a cocktail and went to change.
Later, I took great pleasure in enjoying a martini and watching my husband come home in a state of panic. On walking in, he immediately excused himself to go upstairs. When I followed him up moments later, I found him searching my jewelry box like a madman.
He wanted proof for his lover, but he wouldn’t find it unless he decided to cook dinner. No…I am afraid this affair was doomed.
I gave him my best, “Darling, whatever is the matter?”
He stared at me wide-eyed, not quite knowing what to say. He couldn’t ask where the necklace was because…well…why would he be looking for it? He made something up about thinking he’d left his watch there. It was a pitiful showing really. People think men are good liars — I don’t know where they get that from.
He went back downstairs in a state of distress. And I had an absolutely wonderful night’s sleep.
Today I went to the shop and discovered exactly what I’d expected: Clarisse had quit. She was going to America. Good girl. America wasn’t for me but people get very excited about it. Land of opportunity and all that.
I also discovered that Clarisse left a forwarding address with her friend at the shop. When she gets to America, I intend to mail her the diamond and emerald necklace. For I can no longer stand the sight of it.