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October 13, 2010

It’s nonsense, this idea that one can stay friends with one’s ex-husband.   I should probably just chuck the whole damned charade.

We are forced to call one another to discuss the kids’ schedules nearly every day he interacts with them, because my ex-husband cannot for the life of him manage to stick to any sort of routine.  He’s late.  He calls late.  He asks, when he gets here late, whether I fed them supper (I always have, because they’re hungry, and because he’s always late.)  Generally, these phone calls are brief and to the point, but occasionally he gets all talkative and tells me a story about his weekend, or his work, or something one of the kids said when they were with him.  I like these little chats.  But I’m a fool to take them for a sign that all is finally smooth between us.

For one thing, the banter only flows one way. Yesterday, for instance, as we figured out who would get which kid from where, I mentioned that I was scheduled to interview a passé pop musician who has just published his memoirs.  So, I said, we’ll have to work around THAT.  Isn’t it a funny assignment, though?  What do you think I should ask him?

I don’t know,” he said coldly, and hung up.

He does not like it when I talk about my life.  At all.  He never asks about anyone in my family.  Last year my sister had her first baby, and when I told him, he grunted.  I am not sure he even realizes he is being unfriendly.  He simply wants nothing to do with me.  Okay, fair enough.  Yet somehow–and I know I’m foolish for saying this–it makes me sad.

I know I can’t have it both ways.  I have no right to expect him to be cordial and cheery.  I divorced the guy.  He owes me nothing–he owes me absolutely nothing.  No sense in being a Pollyanna about it.

Detach, detach, my boyfriend patiently advises.  Go all Zen Buddhist on him, he says.  And I try.  Yesterday evening, performing yet another child-swap in front of the dream cottage, I decided to stay put, instead of walking right up to his front door. Fuck it, I thought, and sent my younger son to collect the older one.  He ran gleefully across the lawn, and I turned off the ignition and sat there listening to the engine tick, trying to breathe calmly.  The cottage looked cozy with its windows all lit up.

Suddenly, the door opened, and my ex-husband came down the steps.  I got out.  The kids were still inside, locating shoes and shinguards, arguing, taking forever, as they always do.  “You wanted to see me about something?” he said.

I shook my head, confused.

“Oh,” he said.  “The kids said you wanted to talk to me.”

“Not in particular,” I said.  Then I thought that sounded a little harsh.  “I mean, not that it isn’t always lovely to talk to you,” I said, smiling.  There we go, I thought, some nice cheery post-marital banter.  My ex-husband was in running clothes–I even thought, for a moment, that he looked pretty good.  Better than he has in weeks.

He snorted, sneered, turned on his heel and went back into the house.

As I watched him walk down the cute little path in front of his cottage, I could not help but notice that his rate of balding seems to have accelerated.  May lightning strike me dead, but oh, how I look forward to the day the last damned hair on his stupid rude head swirls down the shower drain.  It shouldn’t be more than a few years.  I can wait.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. October 13, 2010 8:45 pm


    So you are interviewing Rick Springfield? Hmmm…

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      October 13, 2010 9:00 pm

      Holy shit! How did you know?

  2. October 14, 2010 10:51 am

    i love the way you ended this post. too funny! i never wish anything bad upon anyone, but sometimes it helps to fantasize of the ex being put in his place!
    like you, i can be very patient too.

  3. October 14, 2010 2:54 pm

    Heh. This is totally how I manage to be zen about things, too (i.e., it’s all great in theory but then I [accidentally!] let my dog poop on the crabby old lady’s lawn juuuuust when I don’t have anymore scoop bags.)

  4. LMM permalink
    October 14, 2010 4:15 pm

    Hee, I knew it was Rick Springfield, he’s making the rounds this week with his memoirs!

    I am fortunate enough not to have kids with my ex so we don’t have to interact…and I wish him no ill will whatsoever, but I will totally admit here to laughing OUT LOUD last week when I saw a current picture and he is now half bald. 🙂 I give him 5 years. Max.

  5. Arlene permalink
    October 14, 2010 5:10 pm

    In the “Men are from Mars” category: I have observed that some men (that I may or may not know well, but don’t have a particular relationship) seem to think friendliness is a sign that I am trying to come on to them. I wonder. Ex has been rejected–you don’t want him. But, whenever you are friendly–more than just neutral in your behavior with him, perhaps he thinks you are trying to entice, attract, or somehow bond with him. If this is the case, your friendliness might make him confused and angry.

    I would strive for neutral or, as your friend says, zen.

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      October 15, 2010 8:21 am

      That is very very prescient and helpful and smart. And I think you are exactly correct. I’ve been kind of thinking around the edges of what you said, if that makes any sense, without quite nailing the proper conclusion. Thank you for articulating it for me. I’ll keep this in mind, and things will be easier from now on, thanks to you.

      • Take 5 permalink
        October 19, 2010 3:36 pm

        Arlene…I think you nailed it, too. Where were you last year when I had a particularly weird conversation with a guy I had just met at a professional conference and who couldn’t stop talking about date night with his wife. (For the record I was talking shop with him.) A friend said, “He thinks you want to have sex with him.”
        Me: “Why? Because I introduced myself and spoke to him.”
        Friend: “Yes.”
        I guess the same holds true for the ex. Friendliness can be confusing for guys, that is.

  6. October 15, 2010 11:32 pm

    During our marriage, many of the conversations I tried to have with my ex about anything that was not directly about him ended with him saying, “Are we done talking now?” It is truly a joy to be able to drive away from him now.

  7. fatty permalink
    October 17, 2010 10:31 am

    Keep up the good work, kiddo!

  8. Celeste permalink
    October 17, 2010 1:21 pm

    If there’s anything I’ve learned from Facebook, it’s that sometimes you can’t be friends with family.

  9. Anna permalink
    October 19, 2010 6:54 pm

    Over the many years I was married, every f… ing time I tried to tell my then husband that something was bothering me, or I was concerned about one of the kids or I had had a bad day, or I was just tired or feeling under the weather, HE would interrupt with “That’s nothing, listen to what happened to ME…” And he would proceed to enlighten me about how much tougher HIS day had been, or how much more unreasonable HIS client was, or how reallllly sick HE was feeling. Until I just stopped communicating with him. Or as a girlfriend said to me recently, you withdraw. And I sure did, right out of the marriage.

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