On Sunday night Monty and I watched the debate, but as he was in D.C. and I was in Des Moines, we had to put our phones on speaker to have a joint-viewing experience. We shared observations and occasionally I glanced down at my cell, where it sat on the couch next to me, taking the place of my actual husband.
“Martha Raddatz is kicking ass,” his tinny voice said at one point.
I agreed. “Do you like her as much as Judy Woodruff?”
Monty has admitted to thinking Judy Woodruff is attractive, in a sexy-librarian sort of way. “You know how special Judy is to me,” he joked. “But don’t you think Martha is doing a great job?”
“Sure.” Neither of us mentioned Anderson Cooper at all.
I thought Anderson was fairly invisible that night. Now I realize that A.C. deserves major props, that he is responsible for perhaps the biggest moment in the entire campaign, perhaps the biggest moment of any campaign. But it took me a couple of days to come to that conclusion.
On Monday I woke at my usual time and got the kids ready for school. Yet after I dropped them off I had nowhere to be, not since I was put on a two-week leave for telling my students that I was unequivocally anti-Trump. The Clinton campaign field office only needed volunteers on weekends and evenings, so I came home and caught up on all the laundry, cleaning, and household stuff I needed to do. Meanwhile, the media went crazy for undecided-voter Ken Bone and said maybe he was the real winner of the town hall on Sunday night.
There was little mention of Trump’s multiple lies, of his whining over perceived inequities, of how he stalked Clinton on stage, of how he called her the devil, of how he said she has hate in her heart and threatened to put her in jail. Instead, Chris Matthews said Trump was more “on” and other moderators seemed happy to call the debate a tie.
On Wednesday Monty got back from D.C. “Are you going stir-crazy from not being able to work yet?” he asked, giving me a tight hug.
“Sort of,” I answered. “I wish I was teaching, but maybe it’s good that I’m not. With all my knowledge and experience about the history of our democracy, I still don’t understand how as a nation, we have sunk so low.”
“At least she’s ahead in the polls.”
True, I told him, but the ramifications of Trump “taking off his shackles” could be severe. Trump doesn’t even act like he wants to win anymore. He’s itching to lose so he can use it as proof that the whole system is rigged, so he won’t concede the election, so he can call Hillary’s presidency into question from day one, while he, Roger Ailes, and Steve Bannon go off to start their ultra-right wing media company that roughly 40% of voters will be built-in audience members for.
I went on and on and Monty was a patient listener, agreeing with me on most of my points. Finally, I took a breath and asked if he was still working on getting aide for Haiti, even though his job is to write policy for family planning initiatives and women’s health in underdeveloped countries. “We’ll see,” he said. “Evelyn doesn’t give up easily. Once she gets an idea for something, she latches on.”
“Right,” I said. Evelyn, Monty’s long-lost ex-girlfriend, had recently started working with him in D.C. and while I was trying to get used to the idea, I wasn’t there yet. So what I didn’t say, but merely thought, was has she gotten the idea to win you back?
He glanced at the clock. “It’s about time to pick the kids up from school. I’ll go.”
Later that night, after dinner, bath-time, and putting the kids to bed, I wandered downstairs. Monty had disappeared into his office a while ago and I wondered what he was still working on. When I got to the ground floor, I could hear him talking on the phone, laughing.
And something about his soft-tone made me sure that he was talking to Evelyn.
I went back upstairs and watched Rachel Maddow while I waited for him to come back up. That was when I learned about the new allegations from two women who said that Trump had molested them.
And that’s also when it hit me.
“Have you ever done those things?” Anderson Cooper’s insistent question during the debate had backed Trump into a corner, and in the middle of a rambling response, Trump finally conceded, “No, I have not.”
Thank you, Anderson, for forcing the issue. Because it’s obvious why these women, and several more in the last week, have come forward.
Nobody likes to be lied to.
Finally, Monty came upstairs, and as soon as he walked into our bedroom, I asked, “Were you talking to Evelyn?”
He plopped down on the bed. “Yeah. Work stuff.”
“Work stuff, huh?”
He nudged my knee with his foot. “What? You don’t believe me?”
I turned to look him in the eye. “Tell me you don’t still have feelings for her.”
Unblinking, he responded. “I don’t still have feelings for her.”
I let it go at that. But later, in the middle of the night, I got up to go to the bathroom. When I came back to bed, Monty was murmuring in his sleep.
And I swore that he mumbled “Evelyn.”
Things said in private, unintentional words meant for only one other set of ears or maybe for no one’s ears at all, are all the more powerful when overheard. Funny how one little word could slice right through my heart, could confirm my suspicions and alter everything. Now I can say from experience:
No one likes being lied to.