A few months ago, I received a tip about a secret cheating site called Ashley Radisson. “You gotta check this out, Kramer,” the source said. “It’s shocking what some of these Radisson residents will do when no one’s looking.”
Yes, I was intrigued. Yes, I registered with the site. And yes, I snooped around. It’s my job.
I won’t lie to you or to my wife, Leigh, who lives on Planet Awesome and makes amazing gazpacho. What I saw on Ashley Radisson excited me. A lot. But that’s as far as it went. Regardless of what you may have heard about me since the Ashley Radisson site was hacked, nothing happened. Repeat: Nothing happened.
OK, here’s what happened:
One night I was feeling adventurous, so I logged in, using my secret password and user name, wmahar3. Within 10 minutes I was exchanging emails with a risk management specialist. One thing led to another, and we started Skyping. She was dressed alluringly in a Bart Simpson sweatshirt and drinking a Smirnoff Vodka Mojito.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Nothing,” she said.
“What kind of nothing?” I persisted.
“Just waiting for a Mr. Right to remove the tree I took down without the approval of the Architectural Standards Committee.”
My pulse quickened.
“Don’t you feel guilty?” I asked. “I mean, with all due respect, you’re a cheater.”
She laughed and sipped from her faux mojito.
“The heart wants what the heart wants,” she cooed. “You wanna know something else?”
My mouth was as dry as the Radisson Use and Maintenance Covenants.
“What?” I croaked.
“My compost bin is less than 10 feet away from my neighbor’s property.”
“How far?,” I pressed. “Nine feet? Eight feet?”
“Seven feet, ten inches,” she said. “Do you think that’s naughty?”
“I gotta go,” I stammered. And that’s the last contact I’ve had with her. I swear.
Were there others? Of course. No self-respecting journalist would hang a major scoop on just one interview. But it was all just phone conversations, texting or video chat — no face-to-face meetings.
OK, there was one meeting. An IT manager offered to show me her “deepest secret.” How do you say no to that?
We met at Radisson’s signature water feature, Hidden Lake, which is about as hidden as Donald Trump. She’d had some work done, not all of it by licensed contractors, but her eyes were limpid pools of muted earth tones. I liked her energy.
“Every since my divorce I’ve been addicted to socks,” she said. “The wilder the better.”
“Excuse me?” I said.
“Windsocks,” she clarified. “The Architectural Standards Guide doesn’t address them per se. They’re not really flags, they’re not really lawn ornaments. It’s a huge loophole.”
A tremble ran through me. Happily married or not, I’m just a guy.
We strolled to her house and sure enough the front yard was festooned with three windsocks. One bore the image of a snowman.
“Don’t holiday decorations have to be removed 30 days after the holiday?” I inquired.
“And what holiday would that be?” she chided. “It’s a snowman. It’s not Rudolph. It’s not a menorah. They can’t touch me.”
And then: “Would you like to come in and see my stretchings?”
Before I could say “I’m happily married,” she took my hand and led me into the bedroom. “Take a look at that,” she said, directing my gaze to a window overlooking the backyard. There they were, unfurled over the deck.
“Oh my God!” I said. “Your awnings are striped.”
“Shhhhh,” she said. “It can be our little secret.”
How I got out of there without voiding my Certificate of Compliance I’ll never know, but I do know that my experience with Ashley Radisson has made my marriage stronger. I’ve become a better husband, more romantic and attentive, making it a point to express my appreciation when Leigh power-washes the driveway or builds a homemade fruit fly trap that actually works.
I hope that clears everything up. I do apologize if my brief, purely professional membership in Ashley Radisson caused any embarrassment to my family, the Syracuse New Times or members of the windsock community. Let’s move on.