Extra-marital Protocol

It’s been a while since I last buried my old ostrich head into the strange sands of ‘search terms’, so here’s a little something that has for some days been bouncing about like some misshapen rubber ball in the playground of my mind. Sometime over the last month, an anonymous web surfer entered a sentence into a search engine, and ended up at a page in Underneath the Bunker. This was the page – and this was the search term: Does a man love his mistress?

Let’s not throw any time away relating the term to the page. Though the issue in hand may not be explicitly answered in Heidi Kohlenberg’s review of Stephen Harringer’s biography of George Forthwith-James, one can see easily enough why a search engine might think the article relevant to anyone posing what is, at heart, a rather bizarre sort of question. Does a man love his mistress? What kind of answer might our anonymous ponderer be expecting? Is it right for a man to love his mistress? Could there possibly be some sort of consensus regarding the duty of a man who is, essentially, not doing his duty? The question is so beautifully general; so stunningly free of specifics. Does whatman love his mistress? Perhaps our unknown searcher has a mistress, or desires one, or desires love, or desires… what? It’s hard to say what he/she desires; what he/she is after. The internet is a wide, weird world, but it is no oracle, and can no more stand peculiar queries than any of us. And yet it’s nice to see someone put these questions forward; these unfathomable, unanswerable, inexplicable musings, tossed into the air like rare goose feathers, like fine grain, like paper snow, like dry grass in a stiff summer wind.

In honour of this, allow me to answer the unanswerable. If art is a man’s wife, and a man’s wife is his mistress, why then he loves his mistress.


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