Below is an excerpt from the post-prologue beginning of my upcoming memoir titled 'Bourbon on the Rocks' --- It is in draft status, as displayed on my blog at bourbonbackhoe.com.

Have you cheated? I feel confident in guessing that most people would say ‘Yes’ without delay, especially when being given the freedom to choose which category of life they are confessing to having cheated in. To those that did go ahead and answer in the affirmative, I was not referring to that time you stacked the deck while playing cards against your little brother. Copying your best pal’s Biology homework in high school? No, I wasn’t headed in that direction either. Infidelity, Adultery, Unfaithfulness. Ugly damned words to look at whether you are playing the part of writer or reader, but that would be exactly the category of cheating that I was wishing to ask you about. Feel free to keep your updated answer to yourself if you wish. I cannot do the same, and in the sexual relationship sense of the word, yes, I have cheated.

I was thirty-five years old and living with my significant other, Rachel, of two plus years. We didn’t fight, rarely even argued, but we also didn’t talk as much as we probably should have. When we had first started out on our path towards a relationship, it was very common for us to share phone conversations that stretched beyond four hours in length. I believe that we both very much enjoyed those long talks, I absolutely did, that often lasted well past the midnight hour. At the time we were also living with a roughly four hour expanse of highway between her house and mine. Our mutual needs for intimacy, validation, affirmation, support etc. all had to be met through phone conversation alone much more often than they could be provided for with in-person quality time.

After the relationship progressed to cohabitation, that intense desire for intimate communication faded away little by little. By the two year mark that I just referenced, something was very wrong in our relationship. At the time, I pushed the bulk of that responsibility onto Rachel’s side of the table. It was she who was so frequently out of town on weekends and preoccupied when home. It was she who allowed me to tumble down the list of priorities in her life. At the same time as I began to feel abandoned and rejected, she had chosen to discontinue use of birth control in hopes of turning us into a family of four plus a dog, with my son from a previous relationship already with us often. Thanks to that sneaky-as-lightning bastard that showed up a little while ago, I am not able to say I still see things the same way as I did then.

Her constant state of being busy should have been understandable, given the impressive goals she was pursuing. As I write these words today, nearly two years have passed since my insecurities convinced me she was an unsatisfactory girlfriend and she has gone on to add one of those special abbreviations to her desk placard and letterhead. Looking back at that time with a clearer mind also provides me with the memory of how she had made me aware of her plans long before we ever became social media official.

Rachel had been fully transparent about her reservations over getting into a serious relationship at that time in her life and I had been supportive and offered her every reassurance that I understood what the sacrifices could prove to be and that I was willing to accept them as they came. I probably even offered a cliché like “the juice will be worth the squeeze” or some other intended to be romantic line of comfort. I was falling in love with her and I was very proud of her ambitions even if I didn’t really understand how the additional education and corresponding certificates would benefit her or us as a unit. She said it would and that was enough for me then, though somehow I lost that over time.

I came to feel resentful over being so often left behind to mind the house and care for the dog, as if it were guaranteed to be a never-ending cycle. I can also remember how I was disappointed in how our sex life had changed over time and I definitely didn’t keep those thoughts to myself. Looking back at it now, with honesty and fairness, I was the one that had started turning down her sexual advances because self-pity told me she didn’t really want to do it anyway. She did, though. She enjoyed sex every bit as much as I did, but she was much better at delaying that gratification until tasks with a deadline had been completed.

Ultimately, it now looks as if I pulled away from her because she was more responsible than I was. I wanted my girlfriend back, the fun one that enjoyed camping and spontaneous disc golf outings, and I failed to be respectful of her boundaries by choosing to become indifferent when she had to focus on other things first more often than I could accept.

I wanted what I felt I deserved, but I couldn’t have it and resented her for withholding. It made no difference that I would eventually get my needs met because she was just doing what she should have done in the first place and that was pretty damn easy to take for granted. Indifference grew and the couch became my bed almost every night and my old friend, whiskey, found his way back to me after more than five years of separation. I kept noticing more and more negatives about the way she treated me, or didn’t treat me really, and couldn’t manage to see any errors in my behaviors towards her. The way I see it now is drastically different, as can be gleaned from what I have shared above. Rachel is today, and was then, a fantastic and beautiful woman that I was lucky as hell to have next to me. Instead of appreciation for that fact, she received complaints. The man she fell in love had been supportive and loyal but that same man became abusive with a self-justified wandering eye when times became trying. A few months later, my hands followed my eyes.

With all the bullshit and self-absorbed logic wiped away, I will offer no excuses for how or why I cheated on Rachel. I had plenty in my arsenal then, but they don’t pass the smell test now. I’m also not going to pretend that my actions were in any way justified because I just wrote the words that clearly prove that my actions were the result of an unhealthy mind with no ability to think first for others. I know how badly Rachel was hurt, as was a man that you will soon meet. What came next was a very trying time, filled with immense heartache for many while overflowing with unrestrained passion for the hedonistic pair at the center of it all. Judge me if you must, but as I sit here today filled with a motivation to search honestly within myself, I feel guilt for the hurt that my infidelity caused others, but I do not regret her.

The first time I saw Crystal, she didn’t take my breath away as the much overused saying goes. She intimidated me more than anything else. Then and still to this day, she was and is the most beautiful woman I have ever had the chance to meet. Crystal had been sitting alone, golden brown hair lightly touching the floral print shoulders of her conservative blouse. She wore no makeup or any particularly stylized look to her hair, either knowing she didn’t need to make that extra effort or not caring about impressing anyone with her looks. Not long after that first encounter she made it clear that she leaned one hundred percent towards the latter, instantly setting herself apart from most every woman I had met before her.

I watched her that first day, anxiously and from the safety and distance of my office. I had never been a shy person, feeling confident enough to strike up a conversation with nearly anyone from my childhood to that present day. With Crystal, I couldn’t bring myself to say a simple “hello” in passing but I was strongly hoping she would be joining our crew as a result of the employment application that was causing her to lightly bite at her lip.

One week later, my wish, and I suppose hers, was granted and we were officially introduced (that was the first I had learned her name) as she began her training period. I extended my hand in her direction but she didn’t match my gesture with one of her own. I noticed there was a hint of nervousness spreading a rosy glow through her cheeks, but also believed I had caught a slight glint of curiosity in her eyes as she was turned away towards the next employee in line.

I kept my distance in those first days, though it proved to be something of a chore to resist engaging her in conversation. From what I had seen of her around the office, she was very intelligent and concerned about learning things quickly and performing her new duties properly. The lady she had effectively replaced had exhibited neither of those qualities at any point in her six months of employment.

On top of the personal traits that caused her to be alluring to me, her desk was positioned in a location that I walked past dozens of times every day. One such pass allowed me to catch her, as best I could tell, gazing rather intently at my male bulge as it was further aided by the thin fabric of my preferred casual dress slacks. I remember how I smiled at that thought before brushing it aside as little more than a coincidental glance. For the duration of her first week on the job, just three days due to her start date if I remember right, we had shared no more than a few words around the coffee urn. Dozens of times, though, I had received the slight thrill of hearing how she would say my name over the intercom. I’m not sure why it was different coming off her lips, but it definitely was.

The following week, our conversation opened up significantly. Rather than walking past her repeatedly as I made my rounds between the front and back of the office, I basically held a tight orbit that kept me close to her at all times. We’d huddle close together and chat quietly for much longer than was appropriate, separating for only a few minutes before returning to do the same again. I was also very quickly able to confirm that she was indeed taking more than her fair share of gazes at my crotch, having caught her directly before holding her gaze in my own until her cheeks glowed in ruby.

Everything about her, aside from those opportunistic peeks, screamed that she was a conservative, well-educated good girl and I had been sure to keep our conversations PG for that reason. Crystal changed that on her own one afternoon, as we discussed our favorite movies and telephone shows. I was shocked to learn that she had been binge watching the same female prison series that I often enjoyed and I told her exactly that.

“I’m honestly really surprised you’d watch something like that,” I said without looking at her.

Smiling wide, unbelievably wide really, she replied “Why is that?”

“Well, it’s full of nudity, sex and cursing and that doesn’t seem…” I began.

“Exactly,” she interrupted, “that’s why I watch. I like the tits,” she exclaimed, laughing.

I was effectively silenced, feeling very unsure what to say next while becoming quite aware that the ruby sheen commonly found on her cheeks had somehow proven contagious.

Remember the man I mentioned not long ago, the one who ended up getting hurt at the same time as Rachel? Well, that day was when I learned of him as well. His name is Alan, and roughly seven months earlier he had slipped a slender golden band around her left ring finger. Their wedding date was less than ninety days away as the two of us stood nearly touching and making small talk about the quality of onscreen nudity in various movies and television shows.

As my conversations with Crystal continued, both at work and also through phone texting from that day forward, I became convinced that Alan was to her what Rachel was to me. Yes, it has been established that my views of Rachel at the time were skewed by my own insecurities and self-protective tendencies, but there were also differences between us that were somewhat limiting.

Not that it was important, but Rachel would seem almost upset if breasts were shown in a movie. As sexual as she could be personally, she was unwilling to watch adult movies together. Going to a gentleman’s club, which even by the time I met Crystal I had never done, was out of the question because of the possibility that someone in her field of work would also be there and use her attendance to damage her reputation. She didn’t enjoy watching or participating in sports, with the exception of disc golf, which she actually introduced me to, but she was an eager and willing participant in hiking and camping activities.

Rachel is an amazing woman, but we were not compatible in some key areas of the relationship. I picked up on some very similar things coming from Crystal in reference to Alan. She talked about him as if he hung the moon and most of the stars, while also quietly complaining about the lengthy list of things that she skipped because he wasn’t interested or willing to participate with her.

She had given up most outdoor activities because of his weight and physical ailments. Crystal concealed her ownership of sex toys because they would make Alan uncomfortable. Social gatherings were limited to the frequency and duration of time that Alan would allow, with little room for compromise. Due to health concerns, alcohol was a non-option for Alan so Crystal had given that up too, willingly at first but with some resentment later. (I have a feeling that alcohol and her use of it, as well as mine for that matter, will continue to pop up as this story unfolds but there is nothing further at this point).

In most ways, our relationships were both fine, good even, but there were important parts of us as individuals that weren’t being fulfilled. We weren’t with partners that would participate or otherwise support our enjoyment of them. Unfortunately for our partners, some of the spots where Crystal and I felt like we were most strongly held back by Alan an Rachel were the ones that tapped into our hedonistic cores. Our chemistry was amazing all on its own, but things escalated even more rapidly when we came to realize that we had each found our match for all things risky and free-spirited.

Within a couple days of adding our phones into the communication options, Crystal and I had begun discussing whatever we wished without limitations. Anything from favorite foods to anal sex was on the table and it was honestly a very exhilarating for me. I don’t think I had ever been given that kind of freedom with another person so I felt privileged on that alone, but I also truly enjoyed getting to learn everything there was to know about the woman. She talked about sex in a way that would fit in without issue in any men’s locker room out there, but she could also discuss tamer and more meaningful topics and be forthright with her opinion while being respectful of mine.

Admittedly, and in spite of both of us repeatedly mentioning that our partners would not approve, sex was our most common topic. It also proved to be one that caused confusion in me. Crystal would speak openly, but almost as if on a queue she would make sure to throw in comments about the amazing sex life she shared with Alan. I thought it was great that she was so complimentary but sometimes what she said just didn’t make sense and I began to wonder how truthful she was being.

In time I learned that the role play she originally told me was very hot, was actually creepy to her. I also came to understand that the amazing sex she regularly mentioned was actually limited to the same three positions every time because of his weight and his inability to maintain an erection any other ways. All of her preferred positions were outside of what he could give but when she told me what those favorites were, I could only smile because mine were the same. I couldn’t fault her for bluffing some early on, though, because she was ultimately speaking well of her man. I did respect that.

To be continued...