NEWTON, Mass. When Curt Filbring read about the tragic fate of Melinda Carlino, whose husband died unexpectedly at the age of 32 from late-onset Osgood Schlatter’s Disease, an involuntary cry of grief escaped his lips. “That is so sad!” he exclaimed loudly enough to be heard several seats away at the coffee shop counter where he read the obituary, which described how the widow was left with twin daughters, ages 7 and 8 because of a particularly difficult delivery.
“I HATE lying to get laid!”
Others shook their heads gravely when he gave them the details of the tragic situation, but unlike those patrons, who soon were chatting again or looking at their phones, Filbing decided to do something about it. “I’m going to call her up,” he said, causing several people to recoil in shock at his audacity.
“Why?” a young man in a stocking cap with a wispy beard asked.
“I just think it’s incredibly sexy when a woman already has the kids in place, so you don’t have to go through all the b.s. of trying to get her into bed,” Filbring replied, as several patrons got up and moved uneasily away.
Filbring is one of a growing number of “conscious cuckolds,” men who are turned on by single women with children because they’d rather watch televised sports or play video games than be dragged through the expense, inconvenience and risk of social disease inherent in dating. “I showed up early for my first date with Mary Ellen Griske at 7:25,” says Ed Walters, a bachelor approaching his thirtieth birthday with no marriage prospects in sight. “She was still blow-drying her hair, then she had to say good-bye to her cat, and we didn’t walk out the door until 7:55. That’s a half hour of my life I’ll never get back.”
The term “cuckold” refers to a man who unwittingly raises a child fathered by another, from the practice of the female cuckoo, which lays its eggs in other birds’ nests. “At first glance consciously becoming a cuckold does not appear to be a trait that would survive under Darwin’s theory of natural selection,” says evolutionary biologist Martin Scram of Wilkes-Barre State College of Pharmacy. “On the other hand, when you think of how much it costs to take a woman out for a nice pizza and pitcher of light beer, you can see how it might appeal to a lot of men.”
Cuckolds are sometimes singled out by an Italian hand gesture that suggests they have horns, alluding to the mating habits of deer in which a stag forfeits a female if he loses an antler-butting contest with a rival. But the social stigma that might otherwise attach to the practice rolls off Filbring’s apparently healthy ego “like water off a duck’s back,” he says as he rings the doorbell at Carlino’s modest bungalow with a note of hopeful expectation on his face. “I just hope she isn’t expecting any action from me tonight,” he says as he looks at a television schedule on his phone. “The finals of Australian rules football is on tape-delay at 11:30 on ESPN 23.”