And so the evening went, nut by nut, until Kate was shocked to find herself shaking out a handful of salt, sugar, and peanut dust. Hyperventilating from shame and the fear of being discovered, Kate hid the empty jar at the bottom of the recycling bin and went upstairs to brush the incriminating scent off her teeth and hide her disloyal body under Hamilton's bazillion-thread-count duvet. She clenched her eyes shut, trying to will herself to sleep before her husband came home from his business dinner, knowing that if he looked her in the eyes he would see her transgression immediately. He prided himself on his ability to "see right through her." When they first met, it had felt so much like love, like she was finally being "seen" by someone. His attention to her food, her clothes, and her career had felt so safe. When had it begun to feel so suffocating? When I started hiding things from him, she told herself, remembering what Hamilton's therapist, Penelope, had said when she complained about his control issues.
"It sounds to me like he is just trying to help you, Kate," the pink-clad, perfectly coiffed Penelope had said. "I wish I had someone who paid as much attention to me as Hamilton does to you. I mean, that is what you are saying, isn't it? That your husband pays too much attention to you?"
Kate had felt stupid-not to mention outnumbered-sitting in the corner of the therapist's extraordinarily feminine chintz couch and looking across at Hamilton and Penelope, who were both somehow perfectly color-coordinated with the beautifully decorated room, looking at her with expressions of pity mixed with indulgence as if she were a rather slow, rather spoiled child. Kate always felt like an interloper at these sessions, rather than a primary element in the marriage therapy process. She often got the sense that she was an intruder, interjecting herself inappropriately into her husband's primary intimate relationship: the one he had with Penelope. When she finally worked up the courage to bring these feelings into therapy-naively believing that she was following Penelope's directions to be as authentic as possible-she was met with matching sighs and a tag-team lecture from Penelope and Hamilton about how she was "projecting her own insecurity . . ." (Penelope) "We are in no way judging you . . ." (Hamilton) "It's just that introspection is so new and foreign to you . . ." (Penelope) ". . . that, of course, you are going to get . . ." (Hamilton) ". . . confused." The last word was said by both of them at the exact same time, eliciting identical giggles and smug smiles, which did absolutely nothing to alleviate Kate's feelings of alienation. She wanted to tell them how separate and alone their pathetic attempt to reassure her had made her feel, but, sadly, she had been too insecure.
"He's right, you know," she said now to her reflection, as more tears threatened to spill out of her brimming eyes. "Insecure and weak and indulgent and self-destructive, and now it's too damn late to fix it."
"Katie-Cow," called Hamilton from the bedroom, maybe even convincing himself that he was joking. "Isn't it time for you to get going? You don't want to make it worse by being late, do you?"