Get local news delivered straight to your phone
When a woman leaves her husband for another man, the cuckold usually tends not to advertise his woes. But not Cheverly native Geno Osborne: He went wide with the news.
During the months after his wife, Paula Rodriguez Osborne, left him in August 2002, Osborne put the slogan “Help Me Save My Marriage: My Wife Is Having Sex With Another Man” on fliers, T-shirts, business cards, and a Web site. He even put the message on the side of his Grand Voyager minivan and drove it around for maximum exposure.
Help Me Save My Marriage: My Wife Is Having Sex With Another Man is also the title of Osborne’s first book, a self-published account of the couple’s three years of oft-rocky relations. Help Me, which is available at Amazon and other online booksellers, features a wedding picture of Rodriguez and a scan of their marriage license on its cover. Osborne spent about $800 publishing Help Me through Internet outlet Lulu Press—and so far, he’s made two-thirds of his investment back, selling almost 400 copies of the book at $15 a pop.
“I wanted people to know you can handle adultery in a nonviolent fashion,” says Osborne.
Support City Paper!
But while his methods were nonviolent, they were far from benign. The 35-year-old Osborne, a systems engineer for an Arlington tech firm, is a big, jovial guy who doesn’t keep much to himself—especially in Help Me, where he shares the unsavory tactics used to lure back the 28-year-old Rodriguez. Among other approaches, he disregarded a Prince George’s County protective order obtained by Rodriguez against him and plastered thousands of fliers near her home in Langley Park, Md., falsely accusing her of being an illegal alien and being HIV-positive. “I just ignored it,” he says of the order. “To me, that’s nothin’ but a piece of paper.”
Malik Ashidda, a friend and neighbor of Osborne’s, says Osborne’s campaign generated a lot of sympathy, especially when he drove his van around. “To me, it was a little excessive, but you can’t tell where a person’s heart at,” Ashidda says. “It was almost like the One-Armed Man and the Fugitive.”
Ultimately, the full-court press worked: On Aug. 1 last year, nearly a year after Rodriguez left Osborne, she returned to him. Rodriguez, who works as a house cleaner, immigrated from El Salvador six years ago and speaks only a smattering of English. She says that, after her cousins told her about Osborne’s tactics and encouraged her to get the protective order, his persistence got her attention. “I thought, Oh my God, I need to talk to my husband,” she says.
But now that Rodriguez is back, Osborne’s written another book, The Angel of El Salvador, which he says is a more positive tribute to his wife. And he’s finished a revision of Help Me, which expands on their reconciliation, trims what he calls the story’s “negative aspects,” and advises other cuckolds against posting fliers about their predicaments. The title will remain the same, though, and Osborne’s thinking screenplay.
Today, the two live together in Marshall Heights, and Osborne’s campaign is slowly disappearing: The fliers are down, the Web site now hawks Rodriguez’s house-cleaning business, and Osborne no longer wears his T-shirts. “She made me get rid of a lot of that stuff,” he says, almost crestfallen.
In a Chinatown coffee shop, both Osborne and Rodriguez are talking about how key communication is to marriage when Osborne turns to her and asks, “Paula, today, if you were pregnant with another man’s child, what is Paula to do?”
Rodriguez looks straight ahead and immediately says, “I talk to my husband and me no leave.” Osborne nods. “Marriage is an institution for learning,” he proclaims.
“Forever,” Rodriguez adds.
Osborne turns back to her. “I wasn’t expecting that,” he says. —Mike DeBonis