Possessed by the Santa Ana Winds

I'm watching news coverage of the fifteen fires that are at this moment raging through Southern California. Right now they're showing live footage of a trailer park in Santa Clarita that just started burning fifteen minutes ago. I can make out a lone fireman holding a hose on flames that are being blown by the gusting Santa Ana winds. It just looked like he had to run for his life as the flames came rushing towards him.

I am terribly afraid of fire. When my apartment building caught on fire this past spring I totally freaked and had nightmares about being trapped in a burning building for a few weeks afterwards.

Fire isn't picky. It doesn't matter if you live in a trailer or a Malibu castle, all those memories and cherished possessions will burn. My heart goes out to the hundreds of thousands of people that have been evacuated so far.

But there's something that has weighed on my mind today more than anything else. More than flames, more than the hot dry winds of the devil. It's something that makes me feel ill, sick to my stomach, and profoundly sad.

I was visiting someone today that I've known very well for several years. And, while she was out of the room, her husband started asking me questions about my workout regimen. I told him about my love affair with Violet Zaki tapes and jogs at the park. Then he said, "You look really good. Really strong."

"Okay. Um. Thanks."
I was immediately on my guard. I felt a weird vibe in the way he said it, in the way he was looking at me.

Then he reached out, rubbed my arm, told me I looked sexy and asked, "So when can I take you out?"

I tried to make a joke. I said something like, "Hah hah. You're too funny. But I'm so busy, I have no time to go out anywhere."

Laughing uncomfortably when nothing is funny, when all I wanted to say was, "What the fuck is your problem?"

Surely I was wrong about what I was experiencing with this man while his wife, who I love and respect immeasurably, was out of the room? But no, he tried to grab on my arm again and said, "At least let me take you out to coffee."

I pulled my arm away and replied, "I quit drinking coffee last year after my brother's suicide."

He didn't give up. "So let me take you to dinner then. You like Italian food, right?"

I answered that the next time I go out for Italian food it'll be with my husband. I kept talking. Rambling, really as I elaborated on my husband by sharing, "You should see how in shape he is now! He's gone from a 34 waist to a 30 since February!" I kept on talking about my husband and how he needs to take me out on a date sometime soon. I tried to keep it light, tried to make sense of what I was experiencing, and then, praise God, a few seconds later, the wife came back.

I talked to her for a couple more minutes and then made up a lie so I could escape. She was wreathed in smiles, no worry in her eyes as she gave me a warm hug goodbye. No sign of having overhead the horrible words I'd just heard.

Hours later, I feel so personally violated. And what am I supposed to say the next time she asks me to come over and visit? I truly admire this woman and it just breaks my heart because I'm sure this can't be the first time her husband has pulled some crap like this.

I can't make any sense of it. I can only think that this misguided husband has been possessed by the Santa Ana winds, the Santana winds.

Yes, he must be possessed by the winds of Satan. Otherwise, what would cause him to behave in such a way?


Liz, I don't know what I would do in that situation. I can't believe he spoke to you that way while his wife was in the other room. His actions speaks volumes. Her husband is a ass stepping to you like that. If you say something to her, she will probably blame you, not believe it or be embarassed if he has done this in the past.

Next time he "asks you out" tell him the only married man you date/sleep with is your husband.
Anonymous said…
Nasters! Something like this happened to me once, and though I won't elaborate here, I will say that you may be the first -- but you sure won't be the last. Poor woman probably has no idea she can't trust her husband.
Mamita Umita said…
Liz - as a used to be wife that has been cheated on, you need to tell your friend. Even if she doesn't want to hear it or believe it, tell her. It will change your relationship with her undoubtdly, but at least you can say you were honest, and hoped to help her. She needs to know that her husband is speaking like this to you, and if he is like this to you, he is like this with other women too.
thailandchani said…
What a jerk!

You know your friend best and how to handle it but I can't believe some men sometimes. Do they ever stop prowling?
Jameil said…
what a bastard. seriously if "I quit drinking coffee last year after my brother's suicide." doesn't make you stop in your tracks, you are so far gone, there's no help for you. disgusting.
1969 said…
Liz....this is completely disgusting.

You should have started cursing him out and drawn her back to the room.

I would say something to her. Especially if she is a good friend.
Miz JJ said…
That is so tough. There is an element of shoot the messenger. And he will probably deny it even went down like that. After the fact women like this always want to know, but during...hard to say. If it were me I would want to know. How receptive do you think she would be to hearing the truth about her husband? Daaamn. This is a tough one.
Mes Deux Cents said…

First I am so sorry this happened to you. I know you must be feeling anquish and shock all at once.

If this man is bold enough to make advances toward his wife's good friend, in her home, while she is in the other room, there is no telling what he's doing out in the world.

In a world where a sexual trist can kill I would feel duty bound to let my friend know what happened.

I would say also that you shouldn't have any expectations about her reaction. She may become angry with you or she may be grateful. There is just no telling how one will react to hearing such a thing.

But if it were me, in the long run I would feel much better that my friend had the chance to protect not only her heart but her life as well.

Also I'm very sorry to her of your loss last year.
Liz Dwyer said…
I keep wishing I'd just walked away without saying anything instead of standing there trying to deflect his comments. These are the moments when I think I'm way too nice, too worried about offending and hurting feelings and too much of a people pleaser. I wish I'd just walked away and told his wife, "Oh, your husband wants me to go to coffee with him. We should all go out." Or something like that. Why oh why can't I think of stuff in the moment?

Ugh, sorry that this happened to you too. I've read about situations like this before in advice columns but never thought it would happen to me. What did you do? Did you say something to the wife?

Gosh, I hear what you're saying...I looked in the archives of a couple of advice columns and both said not to say anything to the wife because most likely, she already knows and is dealing with it in her own way. They said to avoid being around when the husband is around...which seems pretty impossible. Then another column says to say something but to be prepared for the wife to hate you forever.

Another thing is that these folks are much older than me...I think he might be the same age as my dad. And the wife is like a granny of sorts to me. It just makes me sick. Again, I wish I'd just had the thought to walk right out of the room instead of being such a "nice" girl.

Yes, what a jerk. I know there are men who don't do this kind of stuff, but I think those that do know that eventually, someone will respond positively. I've just never understood certain things that people do and this really is one of them.

Seriously! I also thought that would help him get the point. Clearly, I was wrong.

She wants me to come over on Friday. I can't see her thinking I was hitting on him because he's like 25-30 years older than me and she knows I have morals, but I can maybe see her saying he was just kidding, just joking.

Miz JJ,
I don't know how receptive she'll be. There's a part of me that thinks that from a cultural perspective she's going to think that men sometimes do these kinds of things. They've been married a long time and sometimes you don't know what kind of agreements folks have worked out in their marriages.

I feel such sadness, anger and confusion, and the disease thing is such a good point. I hadn't even thought about that. You're right too in saying I shouldn't have any expectations about what her response might be. I know I have a tendency to just want to stay out of folks stuff and I avoid talking to folks about their relationships because I know things can seem one way and actually be another way.

Also, thank you for your condolences. They're appreciated.
Oh, Liz, that's awful. He is a Santana windbag for sure.

The same thing happened to me once, and I said to the guy, "How can you ask me that? S----- is my friend." And he said, "S----- is no different from any other woman to me. She just has my children."

I never told her, they went back to France, and I felt horrible for a very long time. Since I was 6 months pregnant and have never been a flirt, I am sure I did nothing to encourage this kind of attention. Nor did you.

Later, the long term live-in boyfriend of another friend did the same thing, and when they split up (over his cheating,) I told her. She wasn't surprised.

I'm sure your friend knows or at least suspects. I hope she doesn't waste too many more years with this guy because such men never change.

The thing that has changed, however, is the prevalence of fatal diseases, so you may have to tell her for her own good, although she may shoot the messenger. I'm so sorry you're in this position.
Malik Akbar said…
Ouch. If there's no respected "third party" that you can ask to assist, I guess you just have to break it to your friend, for both your sakes. As others have already said, it will be horribly embarrassing for both of you at best, and it may cause your friend to be estranged from you. But better that than to be dishonest with your friend. I'm sorry you have to go through this.
I would have lost all composure and cussed him smooth out. I respect your ability to stay calm about it. shoot, I can't believe he had the nerve to touch you.
Anonymous said…
I was too scared to say anything to his wife, partly because I kept second-guessing myself ("Maybe I'm reading into this too much?" I thought), and partly because they were both close friends. So I ignored it and hoped it would go away -- but it didn't, so I stopped spending time with them altogether.

Looking back now, I probably would have handled it the same way. I know many people would have advised me to say something to his wife, but the truth is, in my heart I knew that saying something wouldn't have helped her -- it would just have made me her enemy.

Unfortunately their relationship didn't last much longer. I guess even though he failed with me -- he succeeded with another woman.
Anonymous said…
Firt Liz...you just completely screwed me up with that post...I thought I was going to have one of your funny, depressing but definately insightful thoughts about the fire and Santa Ana winds...then you went completely left on me!

I'm conflicted...I tried to tell my sister in law that her no good still married boyfriend was a dog...and she's still with him. So though my first instict is to say, TELL HER...my other side basically says...avoid her house and opt for Starbucks and other areas.
Liz Dwyer said…
"...no different from any other woman to me. She just has my children." Wow. That's just crazy. What in the world??

The folks I know have been married for over 30 years so I can't imagine this is the first time this has happened in all these years...but it also made the experience even more disgusting.

Yes, it's that question of whether silence equals honesty or lying. I tend to the belief that withholding information is the equivalent anything is lying. Secrets=lies. But, I also believe in what me and my friends used to say when we were younger , "My name is Bennett and I ain't in it!"

I think I stayed so calm because that's just my personality. And I really am too nice sometimes and I've had issues with making sure I have good boundaries with folks.

Gosh, that's so painful, so terrible. I keep thinking about how exactly to tell her, but I keep praying about it and there's something in my gut that tells me I should leave it alone. I don't know what to do.

I am all for going to Starbucks more frequently. LOL!

Sorry about the twists and turns of the writing...I do think these winds do something to folks though.

Last night I went to bed convinced I was going to say something, and now I've done a 180 this morning. UGH!
West said…
Brass ones.

What a terrible place to find yourself in.

By the way, one reason he kept on trying (besides the fact that he's an arse) is that your expressed reasons for saying "no" had nothing to do with him. It's such an uncomfortable and unexpected position to find yourself in that I don't blame you for walking the tightrope the way you did. Just a lil food for thought.

Way to get yourself out of an f-ed up situation without making it bigger.
Liz Dwyer said…
I hear you. I suppose I could have said, "Well I'd never go to coffee with you because you're so and so's husband." But I wouldn't have even thought that at the time because I wouldn't have dreamed he was stepping to me like that.
Unknown said…
Liz, tell her. Caring about this friend also means caring about her well-being. And that means letting her know what a skunk she has in the house. That doesn't mean you have to say, "Your husband is a skunk." Focus on telling her the facts. Leave out your opinion. Do it fast and get it overwith and just be prepared for her to push you away because it's hard. I know it takes a lot of courage. But telling her is the right thing to do. She's living with the guy.

In your shoes, I'd have a hard time maintaining the friendship, but I understand the people-pleasing tendencies you've talked about. Sometimes saying "no" or bringing up a problem is the hardest thing in the world, when you could just keep your mouth shut.
Liz Dwyer said…
I'm heading over there right now...we'll see what happens. I still haven't made up my mind about what to do yet.
MartiniCocoa said…
you would think that the moment you mentioned your brother's suicide that this man would have been put him on pause but no.

That's the most telling thing to remember: it's not about you. He was so intent on pursuing his goal (seducing the good friend of his wife!) that he couldn't even acknowledge you when you shared a truth of your life.

I don't blame you for trying to deflect his comments -- you were showing concern and humanity for his wife. This is something that would be foreign to him.

Can you maintain a friendship with his wife knowing this truth about her husband?
Liz Dwyer said…
So, I went over there yesterday and he was there when I got there. He said hi but then left to go run an errand. We chatted about other stuff for awhile and were talking about Oprah. Then she mentioned an Oprah show she'd recently seen about the other woman. I'd seen it too. She started talking about how when you're married as long as she's been married, you know everything your husband's trying to do,and you forgive him for it. She said she wouldn't want some other woman calling her and telling her what her husbands doing because she knows in her heart what's up.

That gave me pause. I couldn't tell if she was trying to tell me she knew. Maybe she did overhear? I don't know, but I figured it was some sign/hint for me to keep my mouth shut.

So, I don't know what will happen next. I still want to be her friend and go see her so I think I'll just play it by ear.

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