*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by my mother, who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission.
It was the 1970s.
If you had a television set, you didn't have cable. Since you didn't have cable, you probably caught three channels on the television set in your living room at best. You probably didn't have a second television set in the house. That was okay. You wouldn't know the difference.
The internet wasn't even a thought.
It was during this time that my mother's coworker started having an affair. My mother's coworker was a married woman, but she was in a loveless marriage. She coped by having a long-term relationship with another man.
My mother's coworker told my mother everything about the affair, with one exception. She wouldn't tell my mother the identity of the man with whom she was having an affair.
"He's a public figure," she told my mother in hushed tones in between checking out library books for patrons at the library where they both worked. "He's a politician."
Every time this woman spent the weekend with her affair partner, she was glowing when she arrived at work the following Monday. "He's the one I should have married," she told my mother. "I just have to leave my husband, and then we can be together."
Despite her desire to leave her husband for her boyfriend, the affair dragged on for more than a decade without her making a move.
"I don't know how to leave him," she confessed, "but I have to. It's the only way we can be together."
One morning, she arrived at work with a newspaper tucked under her arm. "Look at this," she hissed.
There was a story in the local paper about a politician and his wife. They were smiling in the grainy black-and-white photo. The story was about some charity event they had attended as a couple. They seemed happy.
"That's him," she said. "The lout never told me he had a wife."
Here's what had happened. My mother's coworker was home with her husband the previous evening, wishing she were with her boyfriend instead. That's when her husband turned on the television set.
"He was on the local news," she told my mother. "There was a story about him and his wife attending a charity event. He never even told me he had a wife." She shook her head. "He said he was single. Can you believe he lied to me for all these years?"
It's exactly the same way you lied to your husband for all these years, my mother wanted to tell her, but she didn't. My mother said she didn't want to make things awkward at work, and I completely understand.
Nearly fifty years ago, scouring someone's social media accounts or Googling their background wasn't an option. If my mother's coworker hadn't been watching television at the exact moment that local news story aired, she might not have found out her affair partner was a married man.