A Modern-Day Fairy Tale
Like all fairy tales, this one begins with “once upon a time.” But unlike those stories, this one doesn’t have a happy ending. Because this is about a cheating spouse, and his wife… who doesn’t get mad.
She gets even.
Once upon a time, a handsome young lawyer named Alex Peyton married Dana, a teacher. They were very happy. But he worked long hours; and by the time she graded papers and wrote lesson plans each evening, they were both exhausted. And although they had sex less and less often, life was mostly good. They had a nice home, a late-model Lexus in the driveway, and they went on a cruise and a two-week vacation every year.
Before they knew it, their daughter, Becky, was ready to graduate from high school.
“Let’s get her a nice piece of jewelry,” Dana muses over dinner one evening. “She loves jewelry.”
Alex pushes his plate aside. “Earrings,” he says decisively. “I’ll get Becs some diamond earrings.”
“She’ll love that,” Dana agrees, and carries their plates to the sink.
“I’ll do it tomorrow, get her something nice.” He stands behind Dana at the sink and slides his hands around her waist. “Let’s go upstairs,” he murmurs against her neck.
“God, not now, Alex.” She moves away. “I have dishes to wash, and a stack of-“
“-papers to grade. Right.” Alex drops his hands from her waist, and turns away.
But the sound of the television tells her he’s gone in the den to watch the Dodgers.
“Alex is having an affair,” Dana confides to her sister the next day over coffee. “It’s Jen, that new paralegal at his office. I just know she’s having hot monkey sex with my husband.”
Sue spews coffee all over the placemat. “You’re being ridiculous, Dana! Alex loves you.”
But Dana knows she’s not being ridiculous. She’s lost Alex to someone else. Someone named Jen, with streaky blonde hair and a yoga-toned body, who lives at 110 Larchmont Avenue, Apartment B-1. Dana knows because she followed him there one evening when he was ‘working late.’
“Mom,” Becky announces as she comes into the kitchen, “hope you don’t mind, but I don’t want earrings for my graduation. I want a Coach bag instead.”
Dana sighs. ”All right. I’ll let your father know.” She reaches for the phone.
Late that afternoon the kitchen phone rings. “Yes?” Dana says. “The earrings are ready?” She frowns. She’d told Alex not to get them. “No, that’s fine. I’ll be there soon. Thank you.” She hangs up. “C’mon, Sue. We’re going to Tiffany to get Becky’s earrings. If she doesn’t want them, maybe I’ll keep them.”
Sue stared at her. “Alex bought Bec’s earrings at Tiffany’s? Wow.”
When they arrive at the counter, the saleswoman lifts the lid of the little blue box and hands it to Dana. “I think you’ll agree, they’re stunning,” she murmurs.
The earrings are indeed stunning, and Dana gasps. “How much… how much did Mr. Peyton pay for these?” she asks.
“$4,500,” the saleswoman replies, and smiles. “He must think a lot of you.”
Dana’s eyes narrow. “Oh, he thinks a lot of someone, all right. But it isn’t me.” Calmly, she asks the saleswoman to tell Mr. Peyton that the earrings will be delivered to 110 Larchmont, Apartment B-1. “I’ll deliver them myself.”
Then she snatches the box and storms out of the store with Sue at her heels.
“He bought those earrings for Jen!” Dana rages once they’re in the car. “That cheating bastard spent more on earrings for her than we spent on our entire damn wedding!” She begins to hiccup and sob.
Sue puts an arm around her shoulders. “Listen, Dana,” she says slowly. “How badly do you want to get even with Alex? Because I have an idea…”
So they drive to Macy’s and buy the most expensive Coach bag Dana can find, as well as a sexy new dress and a pair of heels for herself.
“Charge it to my husband’s account, please,” Dana purrs as she hands over his AmEx card.
Next, they go to the jewelry counter and buy a pair of cubic zirconium earrings with silver-plated posts for $29.99. Back in the car, giggling like schoolgirls, they remove the earrings from their cardboard backing and replace them with the expensive ones. The cubic zirconium earrings go straight into the Tiffany box.
“Mission accomplished,” Sue grins.
Alex is stunned that evening when his girlfriend Jen greets him with murder in her eyes. “You cheap bastard,” she shrieks, and throws the Tiffany box at his chest. “How dare you!”
“Cheap-? But those earrings cost me a fortune!” he protests.
“They’re CUBIC ZIRCONIUM,” she roars. “How stupid do you think I am? Oh, my God – GET OUT!”
Alex arrives twenty minutes later at his daughter’s graduation ceremony, his manner subdued. “Where’s your mother?” he asks Becky.
She adjusts her cap and flicks the gold tassel to one side. “She’s over there, talking to Aunt Sue.”
Alex follows her pointing finger and spots his wife. Dana wears a form-fitting black sheath and heels and she looks fabulous.
She waves him over and pats the folding metal chair next to hers. “I saved you a seat.”
Alex joins her and eyes her appreciatively. “Wow. You look… amazing.”
“Thanks.” She puts up a hand to fluff her hair. “I got my hair cut. Do you like it?”
“Yes. It suits you.” He frowns and leans forward. “Are those new earrings? They’re… very nice.”
“They’re diamonds,” Dana says airily. ”From Tiffany’s, and terribly expensive. But worth every penny, don’t you think?”
As his eyes meet hers, Alex realizes with a shock why those earrings look so familiar. And he suddenly knows why Jen dumped him and called him a cheap bastard.
And as Dana smirks, and as he eyes her $4,500 earrings with a distinctly sinking feeling, Alex knows there’s not one damned thing he can do about it.
And Dana lived happily ever after. Alex, however… not so much.