Three lawyers walk into a bar in New York City….
Hold on. Different story, different time, different audience. Reboot.
The following stories are true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent. Or because I’ve forgotten them. Whatever.
I was sitting in a bar in London a few years back (Marriott Kensington, just off Trafalgar Square. Lovely place if you ever get the chance) and there was a man next to me on the phone with his wife. It wasn’t a pleasant call, but thanks to the consideration of all people holding public cell phone conversations I was able to hear every word. (Whether I wanted to or not). It was pretty obvious the gent was having a rough go at it. There was lots of yelling about Susan this and Susan that. Susan wouldn’t make that kind of mistake, Susan never yelled, Susan was better with kids (hm…) and she sure as hell was better in the sack! Wait, what? My curiosity was piqued at this point, so I started to pay attention. Apparently, his marriage was over. Surprise! All that was left was fighting over the spoils. Who got what, what was the kids visitation schedule, and whadda ya mean the mortgage is late again? I gave you the fuckin’ money! My God you’re an idiot! All the usual fun stuff. Thankfully the call ended, and I turned back to my scotch for quiet contemplation. But then the next call came in… Guess who? Susan! Now it’s another hour of hearing about what a bitch his wife was, and how he’d be so glad when it was over and done with so they could get on with their lives. Then came the plans. He was meeting her in Vail, CO the end of the month for some skiing and serious snuggle time. And he thought he could stop by her apartment on his way home from the airport for a bit. He sure did miss her! And then, it was quiet.
Oops. False alarm! Now he had a live audience. He preceded to tell me about all the problems he had at home, and how difficult it was to sort out the divorce. He still loved her he supposed, but over time they had just drifted apart. They had no common interests. The spark was gone, and once the kids had started coming, the sex just dried up and died. And the nagging! She was always at him to get a baby sitter so they could go out for dinner and a move. Geez… He eats out all the time at work and has seen all the crappy movies already on the inflight airplane entertainment to and from his various business trips. “Drop the kids off at his parents” she says… “Let’s go away for a weekend by ourselves” she says. Did you hear the part about business travel? The last fuckin’ thing I want to see is another hotel. Now Susan! Susan is different! She’s fun, she’s exciting, and hell yeah, she’s younger. (wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more!) Meeting HER in a hotel is a totally different story!
I was on a flight from Gatwick back to the states, and from my isle seat I could see the man on the opposite side of the isle in the row ahead of me writing on a legal pad. What caught my attention was him getting a half of page written, tearing it off, balling it up and starting over. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, but he had a nice clear hand, and I’d seen the inflight movie at least a dozen times already (Dodgeball… Are you kidding me? Again?). It was a letter to his wife. How sweet. But as he wrote more, I could see why all the misstarts and balled up discards. It seems this gentleman was having some of the same issues as my friend from the bar. Only he hadn’t ‘fessed up yet. That was the purpose of the letter. He was trying to find a way to tell his wife that he no longer loved her, and that he’d found someone new. It was so sad, really. They truly did have a good life together. Time and travel took its toll however, and despite all his intentions, he’d met the true love of his life. He was leaving her and immigrating to the UK to be together. Don’t worry about the finances; the lawyers could sort all that out. He’d make sure she’d be well taken care of. He was just so, so sorry…
Queue the Virgin.
No, not what you think, you prev. I was on a Virgin train between Manchester and London and happened to find myself in front of a very attractive woman about my age. If you’ve never been on a Virgin (Careful now) the first class coach had facing seats for two, with a table in between. I just so happened to land this lovely as my table mate. And she was texting away like mad! And if you can imagine hearing someone beside you yelling through a text, my ears were ringing! That was one pissed off lady! Eventually she petered off, and with an exasperated sigh, chucked the phone down on the table. She glared at me for a moment, took a deep breath and had a little smile. (I am quite the dashing figure after all). She apologized for all the time texting on her phone. That’s a bit of a pet peeve with her apparently. People always nose deep in their phones and ignoring the world around them. So let’s start over, shall we? She introduced herself and jumped into the sordid details of her most recent affair, and how it was just becoming dreadfully horrible to maintain the sham she called her marriage. Being the Gentleman I am, I listened attentively and waited for my opportunity to take advantage of the situation. And I was just about to hit pay dirt, and we discovered she was the ex business partner with my Brother-in-Law running and Ad Agency in LA.
Oops! Exit, stage right!
It’s like a Cabbie in Birmingham once told me… “The story of my life! I fall into a barrel of boobs and come up suckin’ a brick!” I meet a beautiful woman on a train 10,000 miles from home, and she turns out to be family.
This brings me to my own story. I traveled a great deal with my job, and the situation at home was less than optimal. When I was at home, the earth would tremble. Not in a fun way, but because of the atomic explosions I would always walk into. I had no idea I was such a flaming bastard! Thank God I did spend so much time on the road, or my five year marriage wouldn’t have lasted two years. Predictably however, we ended up parting ways. Oh. My. God. What an ordeal! All the paperwork! All the Lawyers! All the anger! And bless me sweet Jesus, all the money! It wasn’t a fight to the death. It was a fight to the penny. And when it was all said and done, that’s about all that was left.
It was a wee bit ugly.
But let’s go back to the guy in the London bar. After he droned and on and on about how wonderful his new life was going to be, and how much time and effort it was taking to get there, I finally asked him a question.
If you had put as much effort into keeping your marriage as you have getting out of it, don’t you think you might have been able to save it?
Conversation over. My new friend stormed off to parts unknown (Probably to call Susan about the asshole in the bar). I’m finally left alone to contemplate my scotch in peace. And a lovely scotch it was by the way.
But think about it.
Isn’t that the truth? Relationships do take work. If my bar friend had spent the time with his wife having nice dinners, weekends away, even family vacations, don’t you think his marriage might not have been such a horror? And the letter writing passenger. From the over the shoulder analysis reading his letter, the effort had been on creating something new, not preserving something he had. And if my lady prospect on the train had given her husband the come on she gave to me (wink wink), I’ll wager he’d have stepped right up, and they’d have had a fair chance of sorting it all out.
Could that marriage have been saved if I put that kind of effort in? Honestly, no. There were just too many things wrong with that one from the beginning. The marriage wasn’t a dumb decision, it was idiotic. Another long story for another time. But the one before that? Yeah, who knows. I think we had just gotten to that point in our lives where boredom took away incentive. A little more effort might have made enough difference.
And marriage number one? Honestly, I have no idea. I’m not even sure I remember her name.
It might have been Susan.