I spent much of today gone down a rabbithole I had no idea was out there.

25 years ago I had an affair with a married woman. I’m not proud of it,
and don’t talk of it with a whiff of braggadocio or trying to impress
anyone with some kind of macho attention-seeking. It lasted three or four
months in 1995, when I was 27. I think she was 41 or 42.

She was 100% the instigator, or aggressor, if we still use that word.
Honestly I was not even attracted to her but she persisted and I finally
said hey, why not? I considered it sport, and with her safety net of a
husband she could return to I decided I had nothing to lose.

I don’t think I ever spoke two words to her husband but from our limited
encounters, which went no further than being in the same room
together, I sensed he knew what was going on. Maybe they had an
agreement, or an arrangement, I don’t know what, but he never confronted
me.

She came to my place three or four times a week, always in the early
morning, en route to her job at a bookstore. I never went to her place. I
don’t even know where she lived.

It ended badly. Any notion I might have had about this being “sport” and
that she had her safety net to fall back on was extinguished when I told
her I couldn’t do this anymore. I told her I felt guilt, even shame. I
tried to play the safety net card, telling her she didn’t need me, or the
risks of engagement, when she had a loving husband to return to. (He
didn’t seem all that loving to me but it sounded like a good line at
the time…)

She was beyond upset, beyond sad, beyond anything I might have anticipated
in letting her know I had to get out of this. She vomited emotion.

Long story short: It ended badly. Then again, it started badly.

Fast forward to about five years ago. She appeared on Facebook,
messaging me like it was 20 years earlier, yakkin’ it up like a couple of
slightly buzzed flirts at a cocktail party.

As I started to summon the guts to ask her “What the hell? What’s your
deal? Why are you suddenly back in my life?” she vanished. I
don’t know if she blocked me or quit Facebook but I suspect she
initiated this conversation forgetting who I was, or mixing me up
with someone else named Mark, or with the intent of reigniting our past
flame and then changing her mind.

The rabbithole I had no idea was out there opened today. Through some
stream of consciousness thinking I remembered this woman, this affair we
had, and did what we do in these hyper-connected times. I looked her up,
to see if she was still around, still married, I don’t know what the hell
I was looking for but this kind of spying is easy enough to do these
days so why the hell not.

She looks 60-something but no worse for wear. Some gray streaks but, as
Asians I’ve known have said so I feel safe saying it: Asians age well.

I found that she had a daughter, who is now 21. As the streams of
consciousness flew I did the math and deduced there was no way I
was part of that equation. Born in 1999 put her well out of range, and
I kind of laughed at myself for even considering the possibility.

Then I found she had another daughter, this one 24 and born in 1996.

This discovery made me flip back to the previous daughter, and consider
some key details. The woman with whom I had the affair, the mother of
these two young women, is Chinese. The younger daughter of hers looked,
well, Chinese. She looked like the offspring you’d expect of an
Asian woman and an Asian man.

Not the older one. That young woman looks as white as I am. I don’t know
about dominant genes or DNA or how that might have played into this
possibly hypothetical situation but I will tell you this: The older
daughter’s date of birth aligns perfectly with the time in which her
mother and I did our thing, and the older daughter bears no resemblance
whatsoever to her mother.

Another key detail: A big reason why our affair happened, and why the
woman was so aggressive in pursuing it was that, according to her, she
and her husband had not had sex in 3 years.

I can’t say the older daughter bears much of a resemblance to me, either,
except for the white skin. But I’m left asking an almost existential
question: Have I been a father since 1996 without knowing it? And why did
the woman with whom I had the affair contact me 5 years ago?