“Do married men have affairs for the bad sex?” asked Rielle Hunter, mistress to then US Presidential hopeful John Edwards when she appeared on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight. Morgan took a pause before he continued with the interview. Apparently according to Hunter who has written a book on her scandalous affair with Edwards which produced a child, she had the best sex of her life with Mr. Edwards, apparently explaining what drove the relationship. Yet it was a relevant question with resonance in Zimbabwe, many thousands of miles away, where the so-called small-houses have become a virtual cultural phenomenon, with purists mourning the morally straight and narrow ways of our forefathers. Are these extra-marital relationships always about sex, great or otherwise? You listen to pub tales where grown men find the pub as some kind of refuge from what they see as henpecking back home. It’s clear then that some men take to the bottle, while others take to extramarital relationships to deal with whatever is happening on the home front, yet there is no doubt that a lot of explanations that emerge seem to be solely based on common-sense street-based sociology which has done nothing to understand the growth and acceptance of what other researchers say has become a major springboard for HIV/Aids.
A young preacher who this year returned to the motherland after spending five years of Bible school in Mauritius said to me the other day that when he left Zimbabwe, he had never heard such a term as “small-house” and it had to be explained to him recently by fellow churchmen what it meant. He seemed genuinely lost, and all I could think of was, “well, my friend, you’ve been away too long.” The fact that the preacher appeared dumbfounded that small-houses had become common-place, accepted even, it did point to a need to better understand what drives this “small-house” business without haughty moralising. But then, there are many out there who see everyman as a potential candidate for Cheaters the television show. Others go an extreme extra mile and see everyman as a potential rapist!
Yet I find myself having to ask whether indeed it is all about sex, whether great or mediocre, or something else. Years ago NBA superstar Dennis Rodman had a fling with Madonna, and he made sure he told the tabloids about it: “I thought she was gonna be an acrobat, not a dead fish,” or something to that effect. Another Hollywood wise crack was asked by a hack who thrived on the salacious what he expected from a woman he took to bed. The hack must have expected a blow-blow breakdown about acrobatics and such, but the Hollywood guy responded: “Nothing, she must just lie there.” Ergo, why do men keep having extramarital affairs, is it about the great sex as some would have the world believe? In developed countries, some have explained it off as a sign of mid-life crisis, I wonder then in a country where life expectancy for men is under forty, when does mid-life set in?