In the gaze of the other

"My mistress' eyes are nothing…"

Guest Post by L.C. Miller: “Mistress to the Show”

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The concept of “Mistress” is interesting to me because even though I’m a faithfully married woman, I am one. It’s not that my relationship with my husband is unsatisfying. It’s not that we’ve lost interest in each other or that the intimacy between us has tarnished over the last 16 years. I haven’t even fallen into the arms of another as a means of escape to a place where I feel desirable, sexy… wanted.

Nevertheless, when I chose to be with my husband, I don’t think I fully realized that I wouldn’t just be taking on the role of partner, wife, mother, or caretaker, but the primary role I would play when I said ‘I do’ was that of mistress.

Everybody knows the famous expression, ‘the show must go on’. No matter what happens, the show will take priority. The people need their entertainment. You will find even movie theaters are open 365 days a year. I am mistress to the show.

Before I met Mike, I too worked in entertainment. I played keyboards in a band but I was no musician. I sang backup but I was no singer. I pushed paper at various record labels and management companies, which is how I met my husband when he was carrying on his love affair with the show. A road guy for the likes of Metallica and Queensryche, he was a metal head now in charge of the latest and greatest grunge band my company discovered during the high surf of the Seattle sound. And even though they couldn’t survive the first tour of the show, Mike and I bonded by speaking over the telephone every day while he was on the road. We laughed and joked and I enjoyed flirting with him during innocent business conversations; and he was drawn to me the same way a man who’s spoken for is lured by the mere dulcet tones of a woman’s voice. He enjoyed escaping into something new but he was obviously in a committed relationship with the show.

Years later, after wanting more from my personal connection with her, I thought perhaps if I moved from Los Angeles to New York, we could take it to the next level and get closer than we ever had. My friend Andrea was relating a funny story how our friend Mike had gotten off the rock tour and was now the sound designer for this show all about tango now on Broadway. I couldn’t help but laugh, imagining him being in such a long committed relationship with a long haired, head banging wife to something much more seductive, classic, lusty. Boy, did his relationship with the show change! I decided to call him and ask if it was okay to stay with him while I tried to relocate, setting up interviews to continue pushing paper for ‘my girl’. Unfortunately, I was just pursuing the same bitch on a different coast.

Mike was all alone in New York, only having to deal with his wife three hours a day, with matinees Wednesday afternoons and weekends. I was attracted to him, but I tried to tell myself he was already committed. He invited me to meet his wife, and something totally unexpected happened. I fell in love with her too.

I no longer cared about my own wife. All she ever did was cross T’s and dot I’s in the name of pop music. She wasn’t very interesting. But this lady my husband was with; she was a knock out. I could see during the show that Mike acted just like a complacent husband with her. I gasped at her every touch, her dress and her shoes as she ran them up and down the back of that handsome dancer’s leg, beckoning me to watch, to follow. I was mesmerized by the show and so was every other ticket holder. But Mike was already more than comfortable with her because when two ladies came up after the curtain dropped and commented how one dancer whipped her hair around so much, his response was, “That’s so you won’t notice how fat she is.”

I didn’t care. It was love at first sight.

I started sleeping with Mike and going to the show every night. Just to watch. He would ask me, “Don’t you ever get tired of seeing this over and over again?” And my answer was always, “Hell no!”

I think this is when Mike fell in love with me; because I loved the show… maybe more than he did… and it seemed my passion for her renewed his interest in their marriage. He took it as a sign that I could handle his commitment and be okay waiting in the side wings until their time together was over. Clearly I was very happy being the voyeur to their romance and I did love every minute of it.

We were married right after the show left Broadway and started a world tour. We spent more than a year in this blissful triangle, experiencing the world, life and love together. And like any mistress, I relished our private time and began to resent the demands of his wife more and more. Here he seemed interested in me and bored with her, but he’d never leave her. He looked at me with love and desire and her with disinterest. Sometimes I thought, “She could do better. She should be with someone who’s really in love with her.” But she doesn’t want anyone else either.

While we were on tour, my mother was diagnosed with stomach cancer and needed me to come back to Southern California to take care of her. I wanted my husband to come with me, but I had to accept he was already married and no matter what happened, the curtain would always rise and fall on his first wife first.

I buried my mother alone, without either love by my side. I was able to share my grief with my husband over the telephone during a layover at Heathrow Airport on his way from Portugal to South Korea. He was very sorry but he and his wife couldn’t chat. After all, she must go on, right?

Two years later, my husband’s marriage would change and for a while they would stay together at the House of Blues in Anaheim so I could be near family to have Mike’s baby. I still wore a ring on my finger, but while I went back to work in a law office, my husband split his time trading child care responsibilities with me and then would run off to be with her all night, having fun, dancing to Etta James and bringing me home bootleg recordings of their torrid evening together.

For years we still went wherever Mike’s first wife took us, but we finally settled down in Seattle to raise our child all together; Mike, me, our son and the show. Again, Mike and I became lovers who passed in the night. I would fall asleep and he would wake me. He would do and say all the right things, sending me back to a blissful sleep, only to wake again to an empty bed. Was it all a dream? Whatever it was, I knew what he was doing. He was dressing her up in something new. My husband was off creating his love into something special for all to see, leaving me to raise our boy on my own.

She beckoned. She demanded. She must go on.

I would start to hate her and tell Mike I’ve had enough. I wanted to threaten him by demanding he choose between us, but I was too afraid of his choice. And at my breaking point, he would bring me to see her in her new outfit, dressed up in Hairspray, Young Frankenstein, Shrek, Memphis, Aladdin… the list goes on. Every time I’d show up resentful, the show would seductively lift her curtain, share her magic and leave me swooning. Can you deny a relationship that has thousands of people moved to a standing ovation night after night? How can I not stand and clap too? I love her every time and it makes me look at Mike and admire his commitment. Sure he looks tired and maybe he might look bored, but the love he has for what he does shows in every performance. I can’t break them up.

I surrender.

I know my husband loves me and our son, but he is still fully committed to his first wife. She puts a roof over our heads. She makes our son and I laugh, cry and experience wonder while Mike merely looks like a dutiful husband, holding his wife’s purse and twisting her knobs in the back of the room, so everyone can hear how beautiful or funny or sad she is. Whether she’s Beauty and the Beast, Miss Saigon or the Phantom of the Opera, I don’t care. It doesn’t matter what she puts on, there I am, fully in love with her from the twenty second row.

As long as I’m married, I’m mistress to the show.

3 thoughts on “Guest Post by L.C. Miller: “Mistress to the Show”

  1. Everyone who loves their work will mistress their family, openly, unashamedly, and unapologetically. Suck it up sweetheart. Or move on.

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