An open letter to my wife:

Dear Sweetie,

Gonna be home late tonight. Don't wait up. Gonna get me some sex with another woman.

The reason I haven't done this before is that I would have felt guilty. What a knucklehead I was! It turns out that when a husband cheats, it's not his fault.

I learned this yesterday from Hillary Clinton. In an interview in the new Talk magazine, the first lady does not blame her husband for his fling with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. Hillary says Bill's womanizing is a "weakness" that she attributes to a tense childhood in which he was caught in the middle of disputes between two strong women--his mother and his grandma. He tried to please them both, and wound up becoming a real smutty horn dog, fidelity-wise.

I confess I could not entirely follow the logic of this argument, but the more I thought about it, the better it sounded. It sounded personally . . . liberating.

See, when I was a little boy, I, too, was caught between two strong women, and this caused tension and insecurity. My grandma lived in my house, and from time to time she and my mother would speak to each other in Yiddish so I could not understand. Yiddish sounds like German, which sounds like Hitler. Everything seems hostile and conspiratorial. To this day I am haunted by certain ominous Teutonic sounds, such as kolte zeesa. Okay, I eventually figured out that meant "ice cream," but you get my point.

And that's not all.

I suffered additional indignities at the hands of older women, in particular my Aunt Ethel, on the day in 1969 that I arrived at her house for Thanksgiving dinner. Aunt Ethel had not seen me in a few months, during which time I had grown a Fu Manchu mustache of which I was inordinately proud. I was 17. Aunt Ethel understood that I was at a vulnerable and sensitive stage in my emerging manhood. She stiffened as though she had been shot, made a heroic effort to control her face, failed, and laughed so hard she drooled.

Do you know what this does to a boy's psyche? Do you know how that scars him for life?

Clearly, I shall now have to have indiscriminate sex with floozies.

I know what you are thinking, lambie-pie. You are thinking, hey, wait a minute, buster!

Listen, I know where you are going, and I have it covered.

You are completely at peace with my decision to betray you, on account of how lousy a childhood I had, but you worry that you will be embarrassed if other people find out.

No problemo. If I am ever caught, I will deny it. I will do this to protect you from humiliation. Just as Bill Clinton did, for Hillary.

Bill gallantly misled everyone about his affair, Hillary said, not to avoid embarrassment for himself, but for her. "He couldn't protect me, so he lied," she said.

Me too. I'll do it for you, too, snookums. Because I wuv you.