Yesterday, a friend request popped up on my LinkedIn account that blew my mind and took me back over a dozen years: Antonio.
His name isn’t really Antonio, but you’ll soon understand why I’m about to use a bunch of fake names.
You see, back when I was in the Army, Antonio was our platoon leader and he was cheating on his wife.
We were all pretty sure. Soldiers in AIT spend nearly every waking moment together, so something like that becomes hard to miss. When my fiance and I stayed up talking, during our courtship, in my parked car until 2 in the morning, we’d occasionally see Antonio drive up to the barracks and drop this one girl off. The same girl that would barely made eye contact with him when we were all in training.
Still, it was little more than a juicy bit of gossip. Bad in theory, but I didn’t understand his situation and didn’t know his wife.
Until I did.
See, one of my best Army buddies was a swaggering guy from New Orleans named Dean and his civilian wife, Lia. Lia was a fabulous cook. She made this sausage dip so unbelievably delectable that Dean used to joke it was the whole reason he’d asked her to marry him.
Well, my fiancé and I were over at the Dean & Lia household drinking, playing cards, and eating her fabulous sausage dip when Antonio walks in with his wife Tina. Turns out, Antonio and Tina were also from New Orleans, so the couples had become friends. Tina and Lia were BEST friends.
When Tina floated over to the little card table, giving us an enormous smile, I think Dean, my fiancé and I simultaneously froze: Don’t look weird, don’t be awkward, pretend you don’t know anything…
And guys… she ended up being so unbelievably nice.
I mean, the kind of woman whose warmth radiates out from her very soul, who makes you feel safe and loved just by looking at her.
And if that weren’t bad enough, she couldn’t stop talking about how much she loved her husband. He was so awesome, so devoted, and so hard-working… but then, we were all so incredibly hard-working. She couldn’t believe how they’d sometimes keep us soldiers running and training until 3 in the morning.
The four soldiers shifted around uncomfortably. Of course they don’t regularly keep us working until 3 in the morning. Woman, are you blind?
But I think the worst moment of all was when we were talking about potentially being stationed somewhere without our spouses. “That must be so lonely,” Tina said, “But I know Antonio would neeeeeeeeeeever cheat on me. He’s such a wonderful husband.”
Argh. I felt just awful going home that night. Tina was such a sweetheart. I tried to picture what would happen to those doe-like trusting eyes if she ever found out what I already knew.
But it wasn’t my place to say anything. I didn’t even know for sure. This information would shatter this woman beyond all recognition and truth be known, maybe she didn’t really want to know. I mean, who goes on and on about how wonderful and devoted and affair-proof their husband is to virtual strangers unless on some level, they already suspect something but are choosing denial, right?
I kept my mouth shut until the night of my bachelorette party.
We had decided to move on to the American Legion because my bachelorette party was over, but my girlfriends and I weren’t quite done yet. My cousin and I drove in one car as Lia and Tina followed us.
We parked and I made my way up to the Legion doors. Before I even walked in, a fellow soldier named Kurt grabbed me, laughing. “Whoa Delilah,” he said. “You just missed some serious drama!”
“Why? What happened?”
“Well, I guess Antonio was banging Baker in the bathroom and someone walked in on them, so he runs out and the police chased him naked down the street!” (Military law is different and you can actually be arrested for extramarital affairs.)
Oh no. I turned around and saw Tina and Lia walking behind us.
Most people don’t know who Tina is. She’s gonna walk up here and someone’s gonna talk about the police chasing her naked husband after he just plowed some chick in the bar. This is how she’s gonna find out…
I ran over and grabbed Lia, taking her aside:
“Stop her. Don’t let her go in there. Make up some excuse and I’ll explain later.”
Lia made up some convincing lie that got Tina out of there before driving back home and waiting for me to come explain.
I did. I explained about the affair, how the police caught Antonio in the bathroom, and how I didn’t want Tina finding out that way. “You’re her best friend,” I said, “You’ve got to decide whether or not to tell her.”
She thought about that for a moment before asking, “So, is my husband cheating on me too?”
“Not that I know of. He’s a little flirty, in all honesty, but it seems completely harmless.”
And just then, Dean came staggering up to the sliding glass door with my fiance. The bachelor party had ended too.
He stumbled through the door to a conversation sounding roughly like this…
Lia: DEAN, ARE YOU CHEATING ON ME!?
Dean (to me): WHAT did you TELL her?
Me: Nothing, but Antonio’s been cheating on Tina!
Dean: Yes, but WHY’D YOU HAVE TO GO AND TELL EVERYONE?
Me: I DIDN’T tell ANYONE but Antonio decided to SCREW HER IN THE BATHROOM IN THE PUBLIC BAR SO THE POLICE HAD TO CHASE HIM DOWN THE STREET NAKED IN FRONT OF EVERYONE.
Me: So what happens when he GOES TO JAIL?
Dean: Someone will bail him out. You’d bail me out if I were in jail, right?
Me: NOT FOR CHEATING ON LIA.
Dean: I thought we were FRIENDS!
Me: We ARE friends, but now I’m friends with Lia TOO.
Lia smiled before suddenly looking serious. Focusing on her husband, she started speaking in the drawling Louisiana voice that multiple White Russians had managed to set free.
Lia: Listen to me, Dean. If you cheat on me, I swear I will KILL you and then I’ll call up your mama and TELL HER WHY I killed you and then I’ll call up your grandma and TELL HER TOO.
Dean’s eyes widened before suddenly softening. He grinned, walked over and put his arms around her.
Dean: Aww, you DO really love me…
Lia: Yes I do.
Then they squeezed each other tight and spoke no further of Antonio’s indiscretions.
It was all very strange, but I’d left knowledge of the affair in Lia’s hands and figured my responsibilities were over. Antonio never went to jail. I hadn’t heard anything more about it so one day, I asked Lia what ended up happening.
Turns out, Tina had been pregnant all along.
“I never told her,” Lia said. “I talked to Antonio and told him he better talk to his wife and never go near Baker again or I swore I’d tell Tina myself.”
It was a hard call to make. Do you always reveal other people’s affairs because it’s the right thing to do, or is the pain of having this information too horrible? The fact that Tina was pregnant made his affair so much worse. But on the other hand, what if he realizes his mistake and never does it again? What if Tina’s pregnancy along with the naked police chase was just what he needed to reconsider his choices?
If she knew, Tina would spend the entire pregnancy being tortured by these revelations. Every time she looked into her baby’s eyes, she might be picturing its father sweating and grinding against some other woman in a dirty bar. Was telling her worth it?
I don’t know, but I do know they’re still married and have a family now. I hope he came to his senses. Made peace with his gods.
And I also know the recipe for Lia’s sausage dip, because some things in life are easy. Here it is:
Lia’s Sausage Dip
- 1 can Rotelle diced tomatoes
- 1 package of Jimmy Dean’s sage-flavored sausage
- 1 package of Philadelphia cream cheese
- a big bag of Fritos
Break up the sausage with the drained tomatoes in a frying pan on medium heat until everything is cooked and blended. Add the cream cheese and stir until it melts.
Dump in a bowl then scoop out the dip with Frito’s. It HAS to be Fritos to get the right flavor combination.
Frankly, the dip isn’t pretty when it’s done, but it tastes unbelievably good.