Episode 8: Across the Messy Divide

Introduced in episode # 3 “Johnson Family Feud”, Susan Johnson is the epitome of the suburban, mid-30’s, housewife.  Susan and her husband Craig have healthy parents, wonderful kids, a good income, plenty of friends, and a fine new home.  When one considers what is wrong in a person’s life, the conclusion would be that there is absolutely nothing is wrong in Susan’s life.  Like most of us, she sweats the small stuff, but her life is perfect…almost.

An avid golfer, Susan has been taking lessons for three years from the golf pro, Bill Haley (no relationship to the legendary rocker).  While in his twenties Bill spent a couple of years in obscurity on the professional golf tour.  He arrived in Hubbard twenty-five years ago to take the golf pro job at the Hubbard country club.  In his early fifties he is single, educated, well traveled, has an incredible sense of humor and has aged well.  Many of the female golfers at the country club have a crush on Bill and Susan is no exception, but she has subordinated her fantasies to her marriage and family.  After all, common sense dictates that perfect lives may be interrupted by exciting thoughts, but they are not to be jeopardized by acting on primitive impulses.

Still, she can’t get him out of her head.  When he stands behind her to correct her golf swing his body comes in contact with hers.  One day there was an innocent touch of her hand in the pro shop.  She thought about it for a week.  She tries not to compare him to her husband Craig, but that doesn’t help.  Craig is a great guy, but he is so rigid and serious.  Bill is smooth and funny; his presence just flows over and into her.  He makes her laugh like Craig never could.  When he looks at her his glance is caring and penetrating.  She feels his eyes pouring over every detail in her face.  Lately she has been dreaming about him often and has secretly wondered what it would be like to be constantly in Bill’s presence.

These are really dangerous feelings and she knows it.  They are potentially destructive to her husband Craig and her children, Megan and Ethan.  They can ruin her reputation and that of her family.  She owes it to them to be strong and resist her inner feelings, but she can’t get this guy out of her head for an instant.  She tells herself that she must be loyal, but she also knows that she will only go around once in this life.  She loves her husband and her children, but she is bored.  She has time on her hands when Craig is at work and the kids are in school.  She wants Bill Haley.

On a pleasant Thursday afternoon in October, Susan drove over to Milwaukee to confide in Angela, her long-time college roommate.  Presumably happily married with one child, Angela is a straight shooter.  Susan knows that Angela will respect her confidence and not tell another soul.  As Susan describes her dilemma, her face tightens with tension while Angela’s lips ease into an understanding smile.  You see, Angela is already right in the middle of her own affair with a co-worker at her place of employment.  Furthermore, she is unapologetic about it.  Cheating on a husband is just a fact of life, she says.  Adultery, according to Angela, is something that is bound to occur in our modern world.  After all, nature contains no monogamous mammals, says Angela, and humans are no exception.  Angela tells Susan that anyone who believes that a man and a woman should live together their entire lives is either backward or unrealistic.  Welcome to Angela’s brave new world, Susan Johnson.

Initially after returning to Hubbard, Susan reacted negatively to Angela’s lifestyle.  “How can she be so irresponsible and uncaring?” she thinks.  “How can she be that kind of a person?”  Yet next Tuesday is another golf lesson with Bill and she would be kidding herself if she said she wasn’t looking forward to it.

Tuesday is a beautiful autumn day.  Susan arrives early at the pro shop, about fifteen minutes before other golfers normally arrive.  Bill is in the back room straightening out the clubs and checking the inventory.  Uncertain about how he feels about her, Susan approaches and greets him from a distance.  He asks her to help him stack some shoeboxes on the shelves and she obliges, standing next to him.  As she lifts one of the boxes she feels his arms around her waist.  She turns her head to the side, both astonished and expectant.  He kisses her and she extends the favor.  All of a sudden the little bell hanging on the front door rings and they instantly separate, luckily unobserved by the first customer.  Her heart pounds.  She is in ecstasy.  Soccer mom Susan Johnson has stepped across the messy divide.

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