Our friend Matt has been working late a lot recently. For the last several weekends, when Matt's kids were eagerly anticipating a game of baseball with him in their backyard, Matt told them he had to go to the office.
Then there was the birthday dinner. Matt's wife, Laura, invited Rich and me and another couple to celebrate Matt's birthday a few weeks ago at his favorite steakhouse. We all arrived at seven, as planned, but Matt wasn't there.
By 7:30, after we'd shared appetizers in the bar area, the hostess said our table was ready, so we were seated. Matt still hadn't turned up. When Laura called his cell phone, he said he was getting ready to walk out his office door, and that we should all order dinner. He'd catch up, he said.
We ordered. When the food arrived, we ate. Just as the waiter was describing the dessert tray, Laura's cell phone rang. It was Matt.
We all tried not to listen as she whispered in strained tones.
"He says he won't be joining us," Laura said sullenly after she hung up.
"Wh—" Rich started to ask why his best friend was dissing us on his own birthday, but the look on Laura's face was enough to stifle his curiosity.
While the guys paid the check, Laura, Beth, and I darted to the ladies room. We weren't one second through the door when Laura started to cry.
"I think Matt's having an affair!" she wailed.
"Oh, Laura." We tried to console her but the quick glance I got from Beth told me we all three thought Matt was up to something, and it wasn't good.1