But most have taken their pictures recently and surreptitiously.
SEX ONLY SCRATCHES THE SURFACEIn between his kid's soccer game and a pizza party, B.* sends a picture of himself on a golf course.
Earlier, he sent 2,000 words on how he got into the game, the trips to California and Ireland, the way the clouds flood the greens at Galway Bay. The long puppyish emails, the condensation of an entire life into a few breathless paragraphs that allow him to retell the stories his wife has already heard.
He also included a dispatch from the previous evening's softball game, from the excitement of the opening huddle to the crushing defeat. He lets himself be vulnerable too, sharing memories of the beloved dog he had to put down, the long drive home from the vet when he could not stop crying.
We have not spoken on the phone, but that's normal when you meet online.
By definition, Ashley Madison, a dating site for cheaters, is a disreputable place. Your first impulse may be to throw your arms up in rage and condemn its members, the ones trawling for an affair or the chance to talk dirty in an instant message. I set out to ask married men on the site not only why they cheat, but why they do it so boldly, admitting their recklessness and confessing their betrayals on the Internet as though their morality and fidelity were items up for auction on e Bay. One of the men has a tagline on his profile that reads, "At your cervix, madam." Within moments of signing in, instant messages flush my screen, emails and winks from muscular men and men much older than me and young ones and proud fathers and one gray grandfather, worming out like monsters from the baseboards. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised: 68 percent of the site's members are men, and their average age is 44 — right in his demographic. Some wax their chests and others are darkly forested.
To get started, I create a profile with a fake name and a dark picture of myself and chart a plan. Then I'll meet a few of them for a drink, but there will be no drunkenness. I say I'm scared to live the rest of my life with unexplored desire. But my jaw hits the ground anyway when I realize whom I'm looking at. One man takes a picture in front of his 1987 Camaro, parked outside of a diner.For my own safety, I won't reveal what I'm really doing. In my profile, I say that I'm married, because in addition to avoiding escorts, many of the men on the site don't want the complications of seeing a single woman. The rest of what I say is mostly true, and to weed out the more aggressive guys, my tone comes off as exploratory, not sexual. One man has his arm across the shoulders of a young Jon Bon Jovi. He wants to meet; he doesn't know I ran into him just last week. The more careful among them don't post pictures directly to the site, but they send a key that grants me access to a "private showcase" of images.It doesn't matter, because he says he can imagine my voice; he says he knows exactly what it must sound like.When he is standing on the soccer field and children are moving around in a blur, he says, he slips out of the game and thinks of me, and if his Black Berry vibrates in his pocket, he hopes that it is me.He tells me he had a brief affair with a woman from one of his company's offices.