#26 So I Bought Him a Humidifier : The Lucy Episode

Recap of my “stupid” second affair with the same man—After two and a half years of his lies, hiding drugs and my public humiliation, he disappeared and married another women. (#5 So I Bought Him a Humidifier)

Before all that, around 1979, I built a house as a rental investment in East Hampton, Long Island. My friend and colleague Ivan was my partner in the house. He’s the first person I’ve written of by name, because he’s dead now.

Instead of leasing the house for the summer income, he spent his weekends there. And this should come as no surprise; we had put nothing in writing. But that’s not the story here.

Back to Mr. Humidifier, who by then was spending alternate weekends with his three children in Manhattan. We planned to take time introducing me to them so we wouldn’t disrupt their lives even more with their separated parents. I loved their father, so of course I would love them and was eager to meet them, even hug them.

One weekend in May the oldest boy had chickenpox and I agreed to a new and really bad plan. Mr. Humidifier wanted to take the two younger boys to my Hampton house for the weekend for a change. His only selling point was that they were so young they wouldn’t remember meeting me. I did not fight the new plan. I didn’t like it. But I didn’t fight it. Instead I drove out with Ivan earlier and Mr. Humidifier picked up the boys in Westchester and joined us later.

He arrived very late, dashing into our serene house with a big surprise. He talked fast breaking the news before the boys could get out of the car. The oldest, about 11, who was supposed to stay home was over the chicken pox. Mr. Humidifier said that Ivan and I would have to pretend to be a couple for the weekend. And while our jaws were still dropped, the boy entered the house. The Lucy episode began with my gay friend Ivan and me, as Fred and Ethel Mertz.

We put the boys in the downstairs bedroom and their father on the living room couch. Late at night he sneaked upstairs to my room. Our sleeping together was more important to him than time alone with his boys. Seems it was more important to me to be desired than to be appalled.

A car load of kid stuff was hauled into the house. It’s significant to mention that Ivan, who got rid of a puppy when it chewed his bathroom wallpaper, detested children.

In the morning Ivan banged on my bedroom door. The oldest boy woke early and was looking for his father in a stranger’s house. He found Ivan first who was upstairs shaving. A fast thinker, he told the child that his dad was in the basement: the basement where there was nothing but a washer and dryer. He was buying time so Mr. Humidifier could scramble downstairs to pretend to have been in the kitchen. Now this was a very bright kid who had already checked the kitchen. On the trip out the night before, he kept asking his father how he could find the house in the dark with no written directions, to a place where he had never been. Moving men could never find that house.

The weekend did not improve. The children I had waited to meet had no idea who I was or even that this was my house. Ivan in his very deep voice yelled at the youngest child who never made another sound. The two of us stayed at the house all weekend, but I don’t think even the three-year old thought we were a couple. I, the unidentified stranger, played games with them but it was never clear who I was. Once the youngest wouldn’t get out of the car and stayed there crying. I went to comfort him and he took a swing at me. The boys and their father hopelessly tried flying a kite on a windless day at the beach.

My first stint as a step-mother, the toughest job I’ve ever had, was off to a tragic sitcom start.

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