She Tells me Everything… Oh, I Don’t ask About That
It’s always bothered me how the media just lazily tacks “gate” onto the end of some pertinent word to denote a government scandal. Watergate (the first “gate” scandal) was the name of a hotel. The Nixonian scandal involved a break in at DNC offices at the Watergate Hotel, so it was the “Watergate Scandal.” “gate” has nothing to do with scandal. That said, “Nategate” works for me in describing Tina’s illicit 3-night dalliance with Nate. It was scandalous. It involved Nate. It rhymes and it happened at a hotel. Close enough.
A week after Nategate, Tina was gone for another few days with Amber for Rockfest in Wisconsin.
The Sunday after Tina returned from that dubious roadtrip, she and I went to get new phones. I wanted to add her to my plan, since I’d been footing the bill for her pay-as-you-go phone, anyhow and adding her to my plan would save a little money. I also needed a new phone since mine had nearly wiped all my contacts, texts and emails in a bizarre charging mishap and I lost a newer chunk of photos that never got backed up. I no longer trusted my J7. T-Mobile had a deal on the new Samsung 9 Plus phones, the top of the line model: Buy one get one free if you add a line. Perfect! Tina and I both got new phones, cases and accessories. We got to work setting up our new phones and transferring data and pictures over from the old ones and after a couple hours had them in decent working order with some details left to iron out later.
Monday morning, while Tina was still in bed, I was tinkering away with my new phone and it occurred to me that I could recover at least some of my lost photos from Tina’s old phone. They were the most precious kind of memories: Pictures of Tina and I having fun together and she had either taken or had copies of many of them. I picked up her old clunker, which was still powered on and would be functional for another day before her plan ran out. I turned on the screen to hunt for her gallery and noticed a red number 3 on her Snapchat icon, indicating new messages.
After Nategate, my trust level was at an all time low. I’d always considered Snapchat a shady app and had heard people refer to it as “Snapcheat” because of how it’s designed to automatically burn all messages after reading. Still, I had the app installed (only for the Bitmoji add-on and because Tina did) and I knew her Mom also used it. My curiosity got the best of me and I tapped the icon to see who was snapping her and my heart immediately sank.
There were 3 new snaps from Doug. If I had to pick the name I’d least like to see pop up in Tina’s Snapchat, that was it.
Knowing a bit about the app, I knew if I opened the snaps to see what he had to say, a couple things would ensue: 1. Doug would see that his messages were read and 2. The messages from Doug would get deleted before Tina could see them.
I was in a moral quandary. Tina’s lies about Nate and Cassidy were very fresh in mind. I agonized about opening the messages for about an hour, sitting on the stoop puffing cigarettes like a lab rat in a cancer study.
Finally, my mistrust and need to know outweighed any moral or practical dilemmas I’d face and I tapped “Doug Ohmann,” bringing up his three unread messages. Two were from Sunday. One had just been sent a couple hours earlier.
The messages were cryptic, at best. The first two were nothing but a question mark. The most recent just said, “hey.”
It looked odd to me. When I had something to say or a question to ask someone by text, I just came out with it. I didn’t ever feel like I had to hail them for attention, first. More agonizing. What I contemplated next definitely crossed a moral boundary. If I was going to find out what he really had to say, I’d have to impersonate and answer for Tina. After another hour of moralizing and rationalizing, hands shaking, I responded to Doug. His last message was “hey,” so I found a Bitmoji of Tina’s avatar saying “Hey you!” and sent it back to him.
Doug shot a message back immediately and it only got worse.
“What’s up, beautiful?”
It felt like my heart stopped beating and my anxiety over my clandestine skunk op changed to full-blown panic. I tried to think of a response and see how far he’d go.
“Just rolled out of bed,” I snapped back in Tina’s name.
“That’s when you look the best.”
Ugh. This didn’t look good. Not at all.
I sent a silly-faced emoij back, then must have tipped my hand with my next missive: “It’s lonely here.”
The entire catfishing expedition instantly vanished from the screen. Doug had aborted the conversation and covered his tracks before I thought to take a screenshot of any of it.
I didn’t try to prompt him into further conversation. I knew then that I’d have to come clean to Tina about my snooping and see what she had to say about what came of it. I was feeling pretty shitty about what I’d done and I was feeling pretty shitty about the overtly flirty and suggestive messages I found Doug was sending Tina. It just kept getting worse.
Tina was just rousing from sleep when I went back down into the apartment. I told her about my brief exchange with Doug in her name and that I was pretty concerned by his tack. I told her that I was ashamed of impersonating her and I was sorry. I described the exchange verbatim.
Tina was pretty upset about my impersonation and pressed me on that, rather than acknowledge the substance of the exchange. It seemed like since Tina never saw the messages, they didn’t exist.
Maura came into the apartment while Tina and I were having an unpleasant conversation about the whole situation and asked what was wrong. Tina looked to me to explain and I did.
“What did he say?” Maura asked.
“What’s up beautiful?”
“Well, yeah. He always thought Tina was pretty.”
“And about how she looks the best when she’s just rolled out of bed.”
“I’ll leave you two alone to work this out.” Maura extracted herself to her bedroom.
There wasn’t much to work out. Tina was simultaneously pretending that Doug hadn’t sent her any messages and being mad at me for reading them. Later, she offered an explanation.
“I know why Doug was contacting me,” she said out of the blue. “It’s from when me and Amber were having breakfast after Rock Fest. She knows I don’t have many friends and she was trying to help me get more social, and she had my phone and was just adding people to my Snapchat, like. Oh. You know him: add. And you know her: add. And you know Doug: Add.”
The story seemed unlikely and didn’t do anything to assuage my dismay over the tone of Doug’s messages.
A few days later, Maura and I were outside smoking. She asked how Tina and I were doing and I explained my frustration that she was completely unwilling to take any steps to make right the untenable situation she’d created with Nate.
“Tina’s not a cheater, Dan. She tells me everything. Trust me. I’d know. You wouldn’t have cared about her spending the night with Amber, would you? Nate’s just a buddy.”
“I would have cared a lot if she lied to me about it. If everything’s on the up and up, why would she lie?” I brought up the snapchats from Doug. And said I also wanted her to ask him to stop contacting her.
“Now, see that would just be weird,” Maura said.”Sometimes when we visit, Doug is over there. I mean she can’t just avoid him. And sometimes, we spend the night, so Doug’s seen her waking up, just so you know.”
“Tina told me Doug never goes over there anymore and that she hadn’t seen Doug in a year, except when he showed up at Lina’s.”
Maura didn’t have an answer for that.
“She said that Doug’s a dirtbag and has no problem cutting off contact with him.”
“She shouldn’t have to do that. Just because he’s a guy… Besides, he’s with Olivia”
“So? What does that matter? Tina tells me he cheats on Olivia.” I paused and looked closely at Maura. “You do know Tina and Doug had a sexual relationship, don’t you?”
She seemed uncomfortable. “I wouldn’t know. I don’t ask about that. Maybe when Doug and Olivia were broke up that one month…”
And I thought Tina told her mom everything, so she’d know if Tina was a cheater.
“Well, Tina told me. And…” I thought about the time Tina told me she’d had sex with Doug in Scott’s barn while his fiance Olivia was on the property, sleeping in a tent just outside, mere feet away from the action. I decided not to relate that story to Maura just then. Tina seemed to be ashamed of it. I left it at that.
“Well that was probably just…” She seemed to struggle to find a fresh lie or excuse. Seeming to find none, she trailed off with “sex…”
Probably just sex. Yeah. When they had sex it was probably sex, Maura!
I was a bit stunned to see how vehemently Maura would stick to a narrative, even when it was so plainly bullshit. I could see where Tina got it from.
I knew that for all her feigning ignorance that Maura was certainly fully aware of Tina’s sexual relationship with Doug. I was pretty sure that Maura actually encouraged it, despite the all around disgusting, immoral, deceitful infidelity of it all. Tina once showed me a series of texts from her mom, trying to entice her away from my company for a while when she and I were alone out in Buffalo. She wanted Tina to come over to Scott’s for the weekend. “Doug will be here,” one of the messages said. “No Olivia.”
Only after I read the messages, did Tina re-read them herself and think to address that last bit. “And I don’t know why I should care if Doug is over there or has Olivia with him or not.”
Although she insisted she didn’t want to go over there, she did end up bailing on me to spend that weekend with her Mom’s at Scott’s. With Doug. No Olivia.
Related reading: I read My Boyfriend’s Messages While he Slept by Eshal Rose