I am soon to be divorced, for the second time. I should be ashamed, but I'm not. Mostly, I'm inconvenienced: Sometimes sad, sometimes grateful, as though I have been untied from the train tracks of life. One thing I've learned is that you can be sad and grateful at the same time. Another revelation I've experienced is that property is everything. Buy the bastards out if necessary. As is always the case with a major breakup, I feel devastated yet freed. Like one of Lincoln's slaves, I don't know quite what to do with myself, but I am aware that pressures have been lifted and constraints broken. For example, I am writing this while eating an individually wrapped Ding Dong. Could I do that while married?
My estranged ex -- he's my second husband, so let's call him Soon-To-Be-Ex #2, or, simply, S2BX2 -- is 42 years old. We've been married for five of those years, and ever since my second trimester, when I began to look like a gourd with legs, S2BX2 has been having affairs. He is, on the surface, remarkably trustworthy and likable. Perhaps that has been the problem: He has been too well liked, mostly by people with pumpkin breasts and an i at the end of their first names. He sells luxury cars for a living and is strikingly good looking, in a way that makes you want to strike him. He cannot pass a mirror without doing the Sears-model half-turn. There is, of course, X1, my first husband of two years -- who is convinced that we should have stayed together, even though he tried to poison me with Snail Death after an argument concerning joint checking. He sprinkled some on my English muffin.
"Just a little," he said. "I didn't mean it. If I had meant it, you'd be dead now. I always follow through on the things that are important to me."
So it was just a gesture. A shot across the bow. I ate half and was fine, if you don't count the vomiting and headaches that persisted for a month, which proved to be too long for X1 to suppress the brilliance of his plan. I did not press charges. Instead, I filed for crucifixion (his), otherwise known as divorce.
X1 has never remarried; perhaps because he is far too busy making my life a living hell and going through mental scrapbooks of our sordid years together.
"Reagan was president," he says, in his own defense. "A lot of bad shit went down."
X1 will call and say, "Do you remember the time we made spinach lasagna in the middle of the night?"
"We were stoned," I say. "I don't remember."
"Well, it was raining," he'll say. "We were watching Bewitched on Nick at Nite, the episode where Dr. Bombay cures Darren from telling the truth."
X1 is like a damn elephant, never forgetting anything, except the small detail of the Snail Death incident.
"Why can't you forgive me?" he says. He says I need to work on my doubts, jealousies, and insecurities before I can rediscover our love. X1 also says that we will always love each other and that it's because of my karma that my marriage to S2BX2 is breaking up. He generally feels that the fact that I got married and had a child with X2 was just a minor passage. He will not validate any portion of my life that took place after October 11, 1990, which is the day we divorced. Every divorce anniversary, he still sends sad, funereal flowers, with a card that says We are Mean to Be Together. I don't know whether he means to leave out the t in Meant or not. It's the kind of joke he would enjoy, especially the not explaining part. He is about an inch away from being one of R. Crumb's brothers. The kind of person who swallows string and then pulls it back out his ass and starts over.
Then there's the Crazy-Ass Bitch, or, CAB -- the woman my husband (S2BX2) sold an Audi TT to and had his most recent affair with. Then she turned out to be a bit of a psychotic -- sewing his boxers shut and Krazy Gluing one testicle to his thigh when he had the temerity to suggest that perhaps theirs was a "transitional relationship." So whereas once he was proffering yellowfin tuna down her lily-white throat and knocking back sake as if it were oxygen, he now wishes she would fall down a cement stairwell. I'll give her this: She turned out to have stamina and imagination. Yes, she has taken the job of torturing S2BX2 right out of my hands. It's truly delightful -- now that he wants to get rid of her, he attempts to hide out at my house.
I almost never allow it, except for when he comes to see our daughter. There's a grease spot where his car used to be, and I like seeing it. I don't like his car covering it up again.
"I told her we reconciled," S2BX2 says. "Can I just park my car here in the driveway?"
"Absolutely not," I say. "I don't even want your toothpicks here."
The toothpicks I packed up along with his martini shaker in the large box of his belongings, which he was loading into his car as he asked for sanctuary. Imbecile. The silver martini shaker, which he brought home from Restoration Hardware, should have been my first clue that there was serious trouble on our tidy domestic front. Its "James Bond time in the suburbs" vibe should have been a dead giveaway, a red flag of dissolution. James Bond was the ultimate bachelor. He was an international spy. He never got old, he was simply recast. S2BX2 was trying to be James Bond, and I was in the way, like someone standing in front of the television. It's even possible that CAB was originally cast as Pussy Galore.