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"‘I’ve long suspected, until now without actual proof, that my father, like me, is a player . . ." (Illustration by Leslie Herman)

I am sitting here at the bar in the restaurant called Kiki, on Franklin in downtown Chicago, not far from the East Bank Club. I’m awaiting Cindy Olsen, a personal trainer who works out of the East Bank. She’s not my trainer, I don’t have one, but I have had my eye on Cindy for several months now, and last week, after an earlier meeting in the club over coffee, I asked her out to lunch. My sense is that women are much more likely to accept a lunch over a dinner invitation. Lunch suggests a briefer meeting, fewer strings attached, no trips to apartments afterward, “the victim ate a hearty meal” and all that. I hope to wind up in bed with Cindy, who is a knockout, Scandinavian division: blonde, deeply blue eyes, in her late twenties, maybe early thirties, the body you would expect of a woman who exercises all day long.

I’m thirty-eight, a personal injury lawyer, a partner at Dubinsky, Kotler, and Levy at 101 North LaSalle Street, and have been married for twelve years, having cheated on Carol, my wife, for roughly the last nine of them. I’m fairly sure Carol has to know about my extracurricular activities, though she has never said anything about them. Perhaps because she hates a confrontation, which she does, perhaps because she is afraid to be out on her own if she forced a divorce, she lets it ride, doesn’t say a word. We have a son (Zack) and a daughter (Melissa), both in middle-school. How do I justify cheating on my wife? Truth is, I don’t. But I have no desire to be separated from her either. She and my kids need me, and having a family gives ballast to my life.

I sometimes think that being married also adds to such allure as I might have, at least with certain women. Having a family makes me safe. I’ve never once suggested to any of my lady friends that I planned to leave my wife for them, and none has ever suggested I do so. They all seem to have understood that another marriage is not what I’m looking for, and it turns out that neither were they. We are all after something else.

I don’t pursue married women. The few times I’ve done so I’ve found the complications outweigh the pleasure. For one thing, I have no interest in breaking up homes. For another, married women ready for love affairs usually have too long stories, and I have no taste for hearing elaborate bills of complaint about negligent husbands. Nor do I want to be chased down by these same husbands looking to punch me out.

Neither am I one of those guys I think of as actuarial seducers, playing the long odds, hitting on every woman they meet, figuring they’re eventually bound to get lucky. The humiliation factor seems not to trouble them. The line of reasoning here seems to be that the first ninety-nine women may kick you in a tender place, but the hundredth will make it all well. Herb Margolis, a lawyer in our firm a couple of years older than I, operates on this assumption, or so I’ve noticed. He tries them all: waitresses, secretaries, female cops. He also doesn’t mind telling women anything that will get them in the sack. Herb is maybe sixty pounds overweight, untidy to the point of scruffiness, sweats a lot. That he actually finds women who will take him up on his propositions does not speak well for womanhood. A year or so ago he told me that he arrived home to discover one of his recent lady friends, a paralegal in the Friedman & Levine firm, in his living room in Lincolnwood. “Come on in, Herbie,” his wife Ruth said. “Kimberley here tells me that you are planning to leave me to marry her. Is there anything to it?” I asked him what he did. “What the hell could I do?” he said. “I got the girl out of the house as quickly as possible, and promised Ruthie I’d go back into therapy.”

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