An Aerobics Battlefield
Exercising with the woman who ruined my marriage
By: Charlotte Perkins
My ex-husband’s lover and I share the same aerobics class, and why not? We shared the same man for months before I discovered the affair. This woman now spends time in my home and takes my daughter shopping for skinny jeans and hair-straightening products. Sharing an hour together in the gym is nothing by comparison.
I pretend she’s invisible. This is tremendously empowering. During class, when we pass one another to pick up weights from the weight rack, I look right through her. I think it helps that I’m older. Instead of feeling aged and out-dated, I feel wise and superior in a way I never dreamed possible. I feel strong. And noble. After all, I’m not the one who participated in the adulterous liaison.
Yet, this confidence doesn’t save me completely from acting out. Last week when we started shadow boxing in class, Bella was only two rows in front of me. It was impossible to ignore the fact that she was positioned within my sightline for punches. And so I punched her—toward her, that is. Punched and pummeled and grunted a little. I kicked too. Take that! And that! With her back to me, involved in her own workout, she couldn’t see the angry glint in my eye, the crispness of my uppercuts.
Later in the boogie section of class, I out-danced her. It’s not pretty. I’m no dancer. But I have a fondness for a good strong beat and can’t help but splice in a sexy move or two. Actually, I live to chasse! A skipping move, with one foot chasing the other forward, a little hop, hop—to chasse is to fly! Each class, when our teacher gets to the chasse part, I give it my all and fly forward, arms flung out in joyous propulsion. For a moment, I’m a gazelle—sailing, soaring in the mix of light oxygen and music. When I chasse forward, and then shimmy in reverse, shoulders back, back arched, I think of sex.
She is sexy, my ex-husband’s lover. She is pretty, thin and has plumped up breasts that may or may not be real. She has a small waist and curvy hips and long legs. But she moves back and forth with little rhythm or passion. I think of her and Julius together. I want to punch again, but the punching part of class is over.
Sometimes at the water break, Bella engages women around her in animated conversation. I can tell they are women with whom she has no real connection, but she’s nervous and needs a circle of supporters. I’ve heard she’s afraid of me, and I don’t mind this at all.
When I recount to my friends the encounters at the gym, I can tell they’re embarrassed for me. “Why not just change gyms,” they suggest. “Or at least attend a different class.”
“But this is the very best class!” I protest. “I’ve been taking it for years. Why should I be the one who stops? Haven’t I given up enough already?” I fume. I know my friends can’t understand. This is just an aerobics class yes, but it’s also a battlefield.
Tell us: How do you put up with interacting with a husband’s new wife?