A FEW WEEKS AGO my wife left me for another man. (I know what some of you who know her are thinking, but no, it was not Earl Scruggs – though she certainly would have had he extended an invitation.) She left me for a younger man, a much younger man who lives up in Pittsburgh. His name is Adrian.
I should been alerted by the signs. Even before Adrian came along, in a restaurant I would see her gazing into the eyes of some cutie at a neighboring table. Yes, she has been heading in this direction for a while. Then, two days after the sixteenth anniversary of our marriage, she got on a plane to go to Pittsburgh “for a few days.”
I will give her this much, she is very upfront about the relationship. She doesn't make up stories about business trips or banjo workshops and such, like many women who try to keep their “other relationships” secret. I knew she was going to see Adrian because she told me: "I'm going to see Adrian."
Her honesty, if you want to call it that, goes even further. She shows me pictures of him: stills, color and black and white, and videos too. After she first met him in person, she brought home a little book full of his pictures. She would probably be showing me 3-D videos if she could get them. As I said, she is thoroughly smitten.
I used to accept that I was fourth place in her heart (behind her Gibson Mastertone, Stelling Bellflower and Deering Goodtime banjos), but now I realize I have fallen off the chart. For Adrian she would jump up from picking along with a YouTube video of Earl Scruggs playing Foggy Mountain Breakdown together with Jens Krüger, Tony Trischka and Bela Fleck – even if it was just to catch a glimpse of Adrian’s gaze on FaceTime on her Mac.
As if going to visit him wasn’t enough, she had Adrian come visit her at our home. Although it was awkward at times, I have to admit I liked the guy. He is a real charmer. Cute as can be. Sharp as a tack. I am beginning to doubt I'll ever get my fourth-place spot back.
I know Sandra loves me but so much as a vague smile from Adrian sends her into paroxysms of joy. Everything he does is unbelievable, if you listen to her, which I have to do if I want any kind of life with her at all.
“You should hear him play the piano app on the iPad!” she chuckles with delight. And, “Listen to him trill! What a beautiful voice!” she exclaims.
Still, I see some problems in their relationship – but I am not about to bring them up with her.
[Just between you and me, he is quite immature. For goodness sake, he still lives with his parents! He's never held a job. Sure he's smart but he hasn't finished high school. (My wife has three graduate degrees. What kind of relationship can she have with someone without so much as a high school diploma?) You would think my coveted University of North Carolina Ph.D. would count for something, wouldn't you? Not compared to the sparkling eyes of her new-found love.]
[Beyond his financial situation, I am more than a little worried about Adrian’s relationship with his mother. He brought her along when he came to North Carolina to visit Sandra. At some point, he’s got to stand on his own two feet, wouldn’t you think?]
I could hope one of these days she will see the light, maybe wake up to the unmanageable age difference, and she would bring her heart back to me – but I am not counting on it. The longer this thing goes on, the clearer it becomes to me it is not just an overnight fling.
Sandra says, and I have to believe her, that based on the seven months they have been in a relationship, that it really is everything people say it is, this being a grandmom. Watching Sandra and Adrian together, I would have to agree.
Gary D. Gaddy is the proud step-grandparent of little Adrian Gray, the smartest and cutest baby ever born.
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday June 3, 2011.
Copyright 2011 Gary D. Gaddy