As soon as I return home, S2BX2 calls on his cellular telephone to say he will be late. He thinks -- no, he is certain -- that CAB is following him in a red Ford Escort GT. I ask him how he knows it is she, and he says she has a lacy pink garter belt hanging from her rearview mirror. I wonder aloud how far one has to search to find her exact blend of intelligence, wit, and style. S2BX2 screeches around a corner, announcing that he has lost her, breathing heavily. It is entirely possible that he is masturbating. I put nothing past him.

When he finally arrives, S2BX2 is red faced and somehow icy at the same time. He seems to feel a sense of effrontery at my having kept the connubial home. He wanders around, picking up cigar ashtrays and candlesticks and coasters, his lips curled tightly. He is taking a mental inventory of everything I have bought since he left. It seems to insult his memory, his legacy. I am certain he felt that after he left, I would transform our home into a museum, like Graceland. He may have also believed that I would transform my vagina into a museum. He is so often mistaken about the most basic truths of life.

"When did you get this?" he asks, holding up the edge of a heavy, handknit chenille throw.

"Oh that," I say brightly, walking close enough to him for him to smell me. I have taken the liberty of daubing Jil Sander No. 4 behind each ear. I have spent perfume on him, and it is not in vain. I can see by the way he shoves his hands into his pants pockets that he is nervous and excited. He wants to discuss CAB, but I wave my hand in the air, as if to dry my fingernails. My work is done here. I escort him to the door, kissing our daughter and telling her to have a wonderful time with Daddy. I am channeling Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame. I shut the door behind him and twirl the deadbolt shut, so that he can hear its sound. So that it is the last sound. Not only have I had the last word, I have had the last sound.

Shifting into intestinal self-destructive mode, I drive through Burger King for lunch. Waxing maternal, I decide I am a growing girl just as my daughter is and that I need protein. I order a five-piece chicken nugget pack. After nearly maiming a pedestrian who has stepped out into traffic as if it were his right as a United States citizen, I grab the paper bag, take one bite and am startled. It turns out that the food handlers have lapsed in their competency and given me a jalapeño cheese nugget pack. Outraged, I take another bite: terrifyingly delicious. I save the rest for cocktail hour, reheating them in the microwave -- even better than I had originally estimated.

Meanwhile, it occurs to me that S2BX2 is coming on Saturday with movers to get his furniture and boxes. Arguments loom over who gets the pewter pepper grinder, electric pencil sharpener, and weather vane. I think this will be the last horrible thing we have to go through, until he moves in with a size-zero receptionist and the whole travesty begins again.

I myself have an invisible sign that reads DON'T DATE ME, I CHAIN-SMOKE, I'M BITTER, AND I INCLUDE A GRABBY TODDLER; this has dramatically decreased my social life and doomed me to a lifetime of jalapeño cheese bites, midrange wine, and Seinfeld reruns. I begin to wear stained sweatpants and logo-festooned XL T-shirts. Save for the recent escapade with the Bebe attire, I just can't seem to get back into the daily donning of intelligent-slut-for-hire outfits that lure men. Shoes with laces evade me, and my hair is Fran Lebowitz-esque. I think my eyes are getting closer together. Judgment clouded.

Why has no one proposed yet? If I were really attractive and vibrant, I should have been asked by now; the divorce will be final Tuesday. I'm lowering standards by the minute, but still nothing. Not long ago, I decided that the contractor working on a construction site down the street looked like Harrison Ford. I slowed the car down and tried to look available, despite toddler seat in the back and Elmo sunshade on the backseat window.

Then, today, he looked like Ray Liotta. I know my vision is impaired and that I cannot be trusted with even the simplest tasks, much less dating. Not that I have come within talon distance of a man. I would have to run over the Ford/Liotta contractor to meet him: jump the curb, ruin the German car, chance arrest. Even running him over may not ensure an introduction. Maybe I could just clip him as he crosses the street? This would require keener eyesight than I seem to have. I would probably clip him into a coma.


To make matters worse, my brother is getting married next month. It's all I can do to keep from chopping his foot off to deter him. Instead, I feign happiness. Their wedding should be interesting. It's in a Catholic church, and I plan to wear something smart, like army fatigues. I may accessorize with an assault rifle. I don't want anyone to get married right now. Why can't people consider my feelings? The selfishness of the world continues to astound me, and I continue to withdraw from it.

And so, mail-order shopping is shaping up as an issue. I bought a floor lamp last night, plaid cashmere pajamas, and 12 pairs of cotton raglan socks. This should fill out my divorce wardrobe nicely. New lines on my face are popping up with hideous regularity. The beginnings of a mustache intrigue me -- surely, not the right response. One of my legs seems longer than the other. Where will it end? Yet, just now, I am unexpectedly cheered by a news item appearing on my computer screen:

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