Dealbreaker: He Led a Double Life

Everything was a lie, and he’d bought and paid for every one. Not because he ever needed to, but just because he could.

At first, I thought he was like me. He grew up, he said, in a working-class neighborhood with a father who Anglicized the family name to make a better life for his kids. It worked for Ralph: scholarship to a private high school, scholarship to college, straight to law school. Two decades and one divorce later, we were having drinks at a Tex-Mex bar, talking about how weird it is to be lobbyists, surrounded by people who never had to work for all the money they had.

It wasn’t a date—at least, that’s what I told the woman who asked Ralph to light her cigarette, then cornered me in the bathroom to see if she was allowed to ask him out. I was 25 and in a relationship. He was 44 and looked it—even his clothes screamed standard-issue middle-aged businessman. It takes more than two years in a city for a small-town girl to start to recognize high-end menswear.

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