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I wanted her to with us." Still radically honest and insanely adventurous, they invited John's unnamed partner to a polyamorous therapeutic encounter with Nan's shrink, an open-minded therapist named Margie. You've got to kick her to the curb.' " Margie met with the woman privately and agreed: John's lover wasn't on the same journey. In the worst part of this polyagony, a spiritual teacher taught them how to "breathe up" the chaos energy instead of trying to control it.

Then Margie the therapist suggested that Nan try breathing the energy into her career for a while, and Nan went to Rutgers to get her Ph D with Barry Komisaruk, the first scientist to study the brain during orgasm. "I was like, 'Fire everybody; this isn't working for me.' " "That was a very popular phrase at the time," John says. At parties, he's so busy tending to his guests he barely sits down.

"Not being as completely honest and truthful as I should have been with Nan and the other one." And what specific truths did you withhold? Their dog comes by, distracts everyone for a moment. And I hurt Nan, I hurt the other one; I should have been more courageous.

"Got out of bed, threw my sweats on, went to the corner and got the magazine and went home" is how Nan's friend Norma remembers it. Call me back.' " Here's Nan's sister Lynn, a retired retail buyer who lives in Florida: "My first reaction was, 'Oh God, this is nuts.' " But it turned out that Lynn's own husband was secretly screwing the woman who would become his second wife: "I told him he was polyamorous, but he forgot to tell me about it." He responded with a list of demands faxed from his lawyer's office, which included forbidding their daughter from ever visiting Uncle John and Aunt Nan.

"I'm into it about 20 minutes or so and the phone rings; it's Cecile. at them turned out to have been cheating on her husband all along.

The short answer seems to be as old as marriage itself: He fell in love with another woman. "The blowback, the self-loathing, all that good stuff. "Ask again." Refusing to take the easy answer is poly in itself, John believes, an effort to push for a deeper connection, so he forces himself to meet the challenge—with a hint of an exhausted marathoner rallying himself at the twenty-fifth mile.

Losing my integrity in the process." Please continue. "I had a hard time saying no to the one not named Nan.

And Nan's beatnik parents got upset, too, pointing out how reckless they were being with their children's welfare. And when her husband issued his revenge fax, Lynn chose the side of the sexual outlaws.

But some people surprised them—John's conservative parents pretended nothing was happening but gave them quiet support. "I didn't want to be poly," she says, "but it made me realize there were lots of choices out there." thinking? "We were embracing the idea of community as a primary unit," he finally says.

"You were no longer a member of a nuclear family, solely; you were a member of a family of choice, a member of a tribe, which was said without irony or snickering.

You were rejecting the idea of 'There's only one star in the sky.' There are actually many stars in the sky, and for me to be in denial of that is hypocritical; there's a certain part of me that I am withholding from the rest of the world. ' And you go down that rabbit hole." Did I mention he's a lawyer? "Initially we were all together," Nan says, "and gradually we got into going into separate rooms and sometimes separate houses and sometimes separate zip codes." She laughs. "I remember the most important thing—Julio was a placeholder for me, because I think it was easier for John to get satisfactory relationships." "Ah, that's very honest," John says.

John was tall and handsome, with an athlete's body and the serene intensity of a military officer.

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