You wait for weeks, and then two girlfriends come along at once

‘Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive,” declared a great man, not Jewish but we’ll let it pass. I faced a bit of a quandary myself this month on the tangled-web front.

It’s a profound ethical dilemma. Who is more at fault — the love cheat, or the one who spies on the love cheat and finds out through means nefarious and foul that they are being deceived?

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Women, it has been said, are like buses. Not that they’re bright red with a number on the front (maybe some are, I’d need to check). No, women are like buses in that you wait around for one for ages and then several come at once, and you sometimes get robbed of your belongings as you attempt to alight.

It all began a few weeks ago when I started stepping out with this Nice Young Lady (NYL) from north London. I say stepping out. Dates with the NYL have mostly been at my house, due to a recent six-month driving ban and minimal finances, which mean I can only afford to leave the Bushey area in dire social or religious emergencies.

The relationship had been consummated — she’d met my parents — and I felt secure enough, almost a month in, to leave her at home on occasions with my valuables, including my prized boxed set of Seinfeld DVDs, my laptop, and my brand new, 42in flat-screen TV. Oh, and my kids. Big mistake, leaving the laptop unguarded. Not because it was shiny and expensive and I could imagine her flogging it down the local boozer (she doesn’t drink), but because of what was on it. About which, more later.

Of course, any sane person would be happy with one woman. However, on one of my rare sorties outside Hertfordshire, I happened to meet another in a bar, and engaged her in a gripping conversation about the nature of desire, or the price of alcopops, or something, and, purely out of habit, mind, asked her for her phone number.

Now, as a rule I don’t do anything with phone numbers I get from women in bars, partly because of the excruciating reaction you get when you call them and they don’t remember you, or worse, they do (“Weren’t you the bald berk spouting off about the nature of desire and the price of alcopops? See ya!”), but mainly because I’ve got a girlfriend and cheating’s not my thing.

Or have I? Barely a month into the relationship, was my girl/friend already my girlfriend? Should I, with my low self-esteem, just assume she wouldn’t care either way?

I decided to take the easy (i e coward’s) way out and not tell her that I’d arranged to go for a drink with Girl Number Two. After all, knowing my luck, nothing would happen and the date would probably end before I removed my fedora, and I don’t even have a fedora.

But it didn’t. It went well. The conversation wasn’t awkward and the beer flowed like wine. One thing led to another and, before I knew it, I found myself outside her flat where the evening ended with a passionate clinch, the kind that might get you locked up in Dubai but that passes for normal behaviour in Hackney.

I didn’t get home till the early hours. It was so early, in fact, that I wound up in a heated debate with the milkman and almost got guilt-tripped into helping him with his round. You’d imagine the first thing I’d do would be go to bed. Instead, I sent an email to a friend, detailing my exploits from the night before because I suffer from a sort of cyber Tourettes that means I feel compelled to tell people about my every interaction with the opposite sex.

Trouble was, my NYL came over the next day, and noticed I was acting suspiciously, preening in front of the mirror and generally strutting around, as much as you can strut around a cottage. So when I popped to the local shops for a packet of matzahs, she decided to have a snoop on my laptop. Despite a series of elaborate password blocks and with an ingenuity matched only by the world’s top hackers (she went to “Sent Items” and scrolled down), she found the offending email. As you can imagine, she was not best pleased.

Somehow, though, I managed to turn the whole thing round by taking the moral high-ground and accusing her — her! — of betrayal for reading my email. Genius, I’m sure you’ll agree. Her response? I know you’ll think I’ve been inhaling too much maror, but she honestly suggested a threesome. With me and the milkman. Yes, yes, very funny.

    Last updated: 4:21pm, September 3 2010