Divorce itself isn’t funny, per se. But it does have its moments. I mean, looking at the spectrum of humor on the whole, there is a wide range of what we might think of as funny. There’s I Love Lucy assembly-line funny, Colin Ferrell getting-waxed funny. And, let’s not forget funny cat videos. On the other hand, there is Harold and Maude. In hindsight, movies like Halloween can be hilarious. So, I suppose it can follow that there are moments of divorce that, while not side-splitting, have their place in the pantheon of humor.
It was well after the day my husband and I were folding and stacking laundry on the bed. That was the day I fixed my gaze on the swordfish leaping across the Menemsha Blues t-shirt, and said, “So, what’s going on with you and so-and-so?” and then he said, “Let’s not get into that,” and then I said, “I think you just answered.”
After that crazy two weeks, there was a pall over the battlefield as I retired to my foxhole in our bedroom and he camped out in his at-home office or went behind enemy lines to her house, the one she’d just moved into after leaving her husband. Conveniently, it sat just up the street from us. I could look out my bedroom window and see her roof.
She’d first come into our life as my friend. A girl’s-night-out friend. A yoga friend. The mother of my daughter’s friend. When my husband was laid off and I went back to work, she offered to keep my daughter at her house more frequently. She offered this because, as she said, she wanted to pay me back for helping her get her business started.
In terms of her fascination with my life and my husband, I’d known, of course. I’d known for some time. If nothing else, I am, in the end, highly observant. Based on many tiny details, I had a deep sensation around what was going on inside of her. I knew something about her was bad news. I could see it in her eyes. An alert greediness.
I’m not sure why I chose to ignore it for so long. I’m not even sure why I brought it up when I did except my husband and I always discussed weightier issues when we folded laundry. It seemed like the appropriate time.
Anyway, in that post-battle phase the master bedroom was my territory. My husband and I barely spoke except to agree on basic logistical division of labor around getting the kids to school or practice.
For my part, I floated from task to task, room to room, the way I would in a more tedious dream. You know, like suddenly I was 15 and forgot to study for the Spanish exam. I couldn’t seem to find the classroom and, when I opened my mouth, my teeth fell out for no particular reason.
Perhaps it was this dream quality that made the guitar serenades seem more of a curiosity than annoyance. Disembodied, I watched on many different occasions as my husband of 15 years, the man I’d lived with for almost 20, walked into the place where the magic used to happen holding his new guitar. He did this without knocking. As he sat down, he’d say something like, “Listen to this!”
In dreams, I don’t seem to talk a lot, if at all. Therefore, speechless, I watched and listened while my husband sang along to his own guitar. Naturally, these were acoustic songs. They dated from the late 60s and 70s. Love songs, mostly, one of which included the name of my friend.
When he finished the last chord, he would look up like a child, with an expression that said, “Aren’t you proud of me?” And, like a dream, I did the inexplicable and clapped. “Wow, you’ve really been practicing,” I’d hear myself say.
I have to admit, even in hindsight, this is not the kind of funny that makes me pee in my pants. However, in these situations and phases of life, you take what you can get. When I look back on it, I don’t judge him (takes daily practice). I don’t judge me (ditto). I don’t judge the 70s. I just think, “Wow.” And I do laugh a little.