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Even hotter

July 8, 2010

According to the New York Times, the paper of record, I underestimated yesterday’s temperature by three full stone. (Oh, what IS a stone? What is a quid? Like so many bookish American children, I grew up befuddled by (and addicted to) English children’s books: even now, I find certain terms charmingly baffling. What, for instance, is a shilling? Will no one ever offer me clotted cream, lemon curd, and crumpets? The first time I visited London I practically wept, so strong was the feeling of suddenly inhabiting a fantasy world from early childhood: there were the double-decker buses, there was Buckingham Palace! Alas, my accent was quickly sneered at. Next, my change from the ticket machine in the Underground was snatched by an urchin who looked exactly like Christopher Robin, after which I was summarily clubbed to death by a bobby. True story.)

Anyway. Of COURSE I said no to my ex when he asked me to lend him my car and help him move. What do you people take me for? However, I confess that I refused in a wimpy, halfassed way (a lie regarding my car’s faulty suspension was involved) that I’m not especially proud of. I seem to be unable to strike the proper note of Dealing With One’s Former Spouse. Admittedly the stakes are low with my particular ex, whose grasp of the subtleties of interpersonal relations is less than firm, but still. I have no problem with the way we interact, generally speaking. We are polite, even friendly; just last week, he brought me a postcard of a Byzantine mosaic from Crete. I know that many divorces are acrimonious and ugly. I know that in the big picture (and even in the small picture) a general queasiness about our relationship (which sails on and on, o’er the horizon) is absolutely nothing. Plenty of ex-spouses are vicious to and about each other. We aren’t. And I give my ex full credit for that, because he certainly has grounds (if anyone does) for overt beastliness.

But I wish I weren’t still so bothered by minor stupidities. I want to laugh at him, instead of gnashing my teeth. Why do I get so riled? What a colossal dope he is, asking his ex-wife to help him move into her dream cottage on the hottest day of the whole damned year. Doesn’t a middle-aged man who can’t bring himself to rent a truck or hire some cheap-ass student movers deserve pity, instead of contempt? I should snicker privately and shrug him off. Right? The problem is entirely my own.

This is a tedious topic, and one that I’ve treated more eloquently before. Forgive me. It’s very hot outside. Against my will, I’m furious, and flustered that I’m so furious. I’d divorce him again if I could.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Lucy permalink
    July 8, 2010 5:23 am


    I’m english so here’s my amazing inside knowledge:
    a shilling is 12 pence, but we stopped using them in the 70s
    a quid is a pound coin
    a stone is 14 pounds in weight
    lemon curd, crumpets and clotted cream are ruddy lovely! (Maybe not together!)

    I really love your blog, by the way. Thanks for taking the time to write!

  2. Donna permalink
    July 8, 2010 9:30 am

    My husband and I helped my ex-husband move into his house, which he bought immediately after we bought our house, just like he had to get a new car when I got a new car. He has no friends, and is way too cheap to pay for movers. I guess I feel like I owe him something since I left him (although I rationally I know that I don’t). He has no problem asking me or my husband to do favors for him and apparently doesn’t have any clue how weird it is that he occasionally wants to hang out with us. It’s mostly funny to me now, but I still get aggravated over his sense of entitlement and obliviousness to anyone else’s feelings.
    Enjoy your blog, by the way. I can definitely relate to some of the qualities our exes seem to share. Good luck with everything.

  3. July 8, 2010 9:46 am

    It seems like there are two kinds of post-divorce situations: the first, where it’s sometimes hard to tell where the boundaries are; and the second, where there’s a 100-foot reinforced concrete wall. I have the latter divorce. It is no picnic — but at least I never have to tell my ex she can’t borrow my station wagon.

  4. July 8, 2010 1:00 pm

    My ex is out of town this week. He asked me a while ago if I could take his dog for the week. His argument was that it used to be OUR dog (except that dog was always his, never mine….unless it was convenient to him for the dog to be ours) and he was my responsibility too. I managed to lie and say “Sorry, my landlord won’t let me”, which I think is a huge improvement over doing something I don’t want to do because it will make him mad and dealing with him angry is a freaking nightmare. So I said NO. And it felt GOOD. And then a few days before he left he told me the dog person he hired to come in to walk and feed him was unable to do Sunday and Monday, so if I could just check in on him….sigh. I said okay. Because I felt like I had already won the battle over not having the dog at my house, I had also won the battle over not having to go every day of his 10 day trip to his house to feed the dog….I could manage two days. Long winded to say….it’s really hard to say no, and if you can figure out a way to say it without saying, “I don’t want to because I DESPISE you”, I think that’s okay. It’s so complicated and annoying and the eggshells seem to go on into the distance as far as the eye can see.

  5. Linda permalink
    July 8, 2010 5:57 pm

    I just wanted to pop in and say that I love your writing. I’m so sorry you’re aggravated right now. Oblivious people are very hard to work with and god forbid you have more than a working relationship with them.

    I’ve been thinking about your reception in your town as far as your divorce and wondering about how people work. My friends and I are all in the danger zones of marriage years (or so I’ve read) and the first ones are getting a divorce. I’m kinda happy for them. I don’t think they were a good match in the first place and I hope they can find a different happiness. Having a singular experience doesn’t dictate a lifetime of experience so I wonder if I would feel differently about someone who I thought was a good match. I guess I hope I don’t have to find out.

  6. July 8, 2010 8:31 pm

    My ex seems to have the same problems with boundaries as yours. He complained several times about how much he missed the girls and I would say things like “Yes, I’m sure you do.” Until finally I’d had enough and told him that I didn’t want to hear it any more, that he was the one who chose to move 800 miles away and he should have thought of that before he ran off. I’m sure it left no impression on him at all because just the other day, he asked me if I’d keep my ears open for an apartment for him. What is it with men who just don’t get it? Divorced (or near enough). This means you are no longer my concern and I no longer have to help you. With anything. I hope someday to figure out how to get that thru his thick skull.

  7. irretrievablybroken permalink*
    July 12, 2010 12:26 pm

    Lucy: Ruddy lovely! Thank you.

    Donna: I had to call my consoling windows friend and read your comment to her–we couldn’t get over it. Should I say that I’m delighted there are others like my particular ex, or that I’m appalled? One can only laugh, in the end, which is what I try to do. Your new husband sounds like an awfully good sport–as do you.

    Jim: Yeah, at least I don’t have a concrete wall to beat my head against…silver lining, no?

    Julie: God, I know, the wearing down, the endless eggshells, the constant compromise. And when you start explaining it all it seems implausibly unreal (“and then he DIDN’T borrow the rake after all, but when I came home the leaf bin was full, and he’d clearly moved the hose somewhere else, because there were all these trails in the dirt…”) Classic about the dog.

    Linda: Eeeh, I don’t believe in the danger years of marriage. Some people will divorce, some won’t. I think all you can do is just take each case as it comes, and try not to make anyone feel worse than he/she does already…and no matter who gets divorced, it has nothing to do with YOUR marriage. Or any of your friends’ marriages, necessarily. And it’s possible to be a good match fifteen years ago and not so much any more….

    Majorbedhead: I don’t know, I don’t know…what IS it with men who just don’t get it?

  8. July 13, 2010 1:01 pm

    …aaaaand this morning I get an email from my ex asking me if I could bring him a roll of toilet paper when I dropped off our older son because he forgot to buy some when he went to the market yesterday. Boundaries. Not sure what those are.

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      July 13, 2010 1:28 pm

      Holy shit, you couldn’t make that up if you tried.

  9. Grace Liddell Scott permalink
    July 18, 2010 8:40 pm

    I think that you had the right idea with the goat sacrifice. This would also be a good time for initiation into the Isis cult. xoxo

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