You Can Thank Minus-Five For This One

All right, I managed to resist the urge to write about my ex-husband when Thursday's post went up, but Sarah's comment today, her link to the court tv thing, pushed me over the edge.

I have to admit, I was disappointed that no one had posted an entry for my ex on dontdatehimgirl.com, especially since, once divorce papers were filed, women crawled out of the woodwork to tell me of their seedy misadventures with him. One even met me for coffee and allowed me to record the meeting for my attorney. Keep in mind, these tales of depravity were offered even as the male and female staff of the restaurant we owned were calling to bear their own witness to ten years’ worth of his sexploits. I was weary with it.

Why hadn’t they come forward years earlier—when he’d been convincing me I was a crazy, suspicious biotch? All those nights I’d tried to believe he really was leaving at midnight to go spray the restaurant for roaches!

Suddenly, everyone was filling me in on the backstory while providing daily updates as to his whereabouts: “He was at the Darkhorse last night with somebody's babysitter.…we saw him buying a pony ride for his girlfriend at the Inman Park Festival…Saturday he was at the Grateful Dead concert, wearing boxers over his jeans like he thinks he's 19…” Yeah, thanks. Just leave a message.

Seems the ex loves waitresses, which stands to reason, since we met when I was a server at the Gyro Wrap in Athens, putting myself through school (and he was, incidentally and unbeknownst-to-me-at-the-time, pretending there was actually a major in Golf--well, something like that--so his family would support him). In any event, he also likes wine reps, food critics, his golf buddies’ wives, sales girls at the mall, his old girlfriends from high school (Hi Shanna!), and local co-eds.

Yes, he was an equal opportunity cheater. Since he’d made no bones about the fact he liked his women bony, I’d existed on beansprouts and egg whites, only to hear later that one of his paramours was a woman I knew who resembled Roseanne. Fat, thin, young, old, professional, student: I give him credit; he did not discriminate.

I remember saying to him, as I turned 28, “I can’t believe there are full grown women in the world who are 10 years younger than I am.” Little did I know, he was dating them (and their mothers). In the end, I hired a private investigator, and the girl he was seeing at that particular time was about 20, a student at Emory. It had been going on for a while, so I suspect he got at her while she was still a teen. When she and I came face to face, I seriously felt a little sorry for her. She looked as wholesome as nine-grain bread, and I could only imagine how he’d buttered her up.

Somewhere along the way, he actually cheated on her with ME (Old habits, even very bad ones, die hard. Ick!). And when I found out they were indeed still seeing each other, despite his teary-eyed claims to the contrary, I marched over and told her the truth.

“How do I know it won’t happen again?” she cried.

“Oh, honey,” I said, “it WILL happen again, but you can bet your sweet young cheerleader ass it won’t be with me.”

After the divorce, even as I was begging out of those informative chats with everyone from the fry cook at the restaurant to the counter girl at the video store, evidence kept bubbling up in odd places. Like at the drycleaner’s, over a year later, when I went to have a skirt altered and they brought out a half dozen dress shirts of his I’d never seen before. Apparently, he’d kept a separate gigolo wardrobe stashed away, along with his PO Box and his hidden bank accounts.

I shouldn’t have been surprised by this, though, seeing as how the night I threw him out, I’d gone searching for him in the basement of the new restaurant he’d just opened and discovered a space right out of Love American Style: a sort of small studio with stereo and cd library, washer and dryer and a rack of clothes to go in them, and his friends (Hi GH!) to keep lookout.

I ended up with a black eye that lasted for three weeks.

Suffice to say the black eye was what finally ended my misery, the one thing I couldn't talk myself out of. I’d rationalized the other things—the stripper he brought home, the mysterious trip to Rhode Island (where it turned out his high school sweetheart was in school), the STD—not to mention the way I had to live, like a single parent in poverty.

He’d stripped the wallpaper, taken the doors off all the cabinets in the kitchen, killed the grass and my favorite plants, and destroyed my bedroom furniture, claiming he was going to finish/replace everything, and it would eventually be better than new. Half a decade later, the only progress that had been made was the waist-high weeds in the yard. He’d even had the shade trees cut down (which caused the basement to flood) and told the workers to knock down the swingset the kids played on every day. Nothing was finished and I’d disintegrated into a creature too ashamed to make new friends or let my children ask their school chums over.

The day I really should have kicked him out, however, was the Sunday I ran down the driveway after him as he was leaving to play golf yet again, and I asked, “Do you ever plan to see your children?” to which he responded by yelling, “They’re YOUR children,” and spun away. I didn't know, until I headed back into the house, that the oldest, seven, was standing at the window and heard.

After he left, and I’d dug the remnants of my old self out of the rubble, I'd take the Amex to Home Depot, telling the cashiers, “My husband has been so busy nailing dancers and screwing his hostess, he hasn’t had time to use his tools at home. So I’m going to run this sucker up until the bathroom is tiled or the card is cancelled; you just tell me when.” They were happy to oblige, and it was a couple of weeks before one of the ladies shook her head sadly and handed me the scissors.

This month would have marked our 20th wedding anniversary. I thank god every day it’s over.

I hope he has changed as he’s gotten older. But just in case he still thinks it’s okay to be married and date, consider yourselves warned:

Don’t date him, girl!


minus five said...

he sounds pretty awesome. i don't think people like that ever change. once a cheater, always a cheater.

my evil pe-pa cheated on my granny their whole marriage and then he married another lady and cheated on her. even with her niece. she died and a few weeks later, he married another lady who he had been cheating on his second wife with. then he cheated on her. then he died. we all miss him.

Tania Rochelle said...

Then I miss him too.

Collin said...

This is the kind of post I'm talking about...the one I've been waiting for. I would have gone all "Burning Bed" on his ass, but then that's probably my inner rage issues surfacing. :)

Tania Rochelle said...

Collin, once, after watching an interview with Willie Nelson, wherein he described what his wife did to him one night after he came home trashed and passed out for the thousandth time, I threatened to do what she did and sew my then-husband up in the bedsheets and beat him with a broomstick. He responded with perhaps the only true (and has it happens, funny) thing he ever said:

"You can't sew."

minus five said...

yeah, but willie nelson is too good of a man to ever cheat on a woman. he just divorces them and marries more.


Great blog, Tania...he sounds like a real great guy. Sorry I'm gay...he's just the kind my mom would've wished for me to marry.

Time Traveller said...

Never trust a man who tells you all his troubles but keeps from you all his joys.


minus five said...

time traveller: seriously, go carve all of that shit into some driftwood. you're killing me here.

Biggy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
A said...

tha bastad.

Anonymous said...

i think it is time for you to let go

Tania Rochelle said...

I never let go of a good story.

And I haven't even told the good ones.

Anne-Davnes said...

I love this post! And I understand why you'd take that abuse for so long without confronting it sooner. Sometimes the more outrageous the offense, it's harder to see. And I'll internalize it like it was something logical I asked for or even deserved.

And I don't think you should let it "go" Tania. Fer fuckssake, how are we supposed to learn from the past if we can't remember it enough to tell the moral to someone?

time traveler said...

LOL, Minus Five You're probably right.....


MAMOO said...

to anonymous, hmmmmmm, i have a hunch you know the rat.

Anonymous said...

yes I know him, he is my brother. i still think it is time to let it go and move on

Tania Rochelle said...

Now THAT'S funny.

minus five said...

congratulations, tania.
today, you win.

all because family members of ex's read your blog. and offer you advice. i can't compete with that.

Tania Rochelle said...

I know, Minus-FIve! Who knew?!

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