Last night, at the Braves game with Biggy and Lo, I was introduced to one of Biggy’s business associates for the first time. Biggy had asked me to tell the man about PC, because his son is interested in motion graphics. I was excited to talk to him about the school and anxious to respond to his stated opinion that there’s not much future in designing or developing video games, etc. Because the prospect of helping floundering young artistic souls find their niche always excites me, I was getting all geared up to discuss Dave Werner and Minor Studios, as well as our revamped Media Architecture program.
But I never got the chance. The man was one of those conversation exit ramps. No matter what the destination, you always end up getting off at the ex-wife. Every time. We have a neighbor like that. You can’t even comment on the weather without his sidetracking the topic:
TR: It’s so pretty out; isn’t this the greatest time of year?
L: I can’t really enjoy it. S is bleeding me dry.
TR: Well, your yard sure looks great. And you’re building a new treehouse in the back, I see.
L: Yeah, hunh. Since I had to leave the first one I built at HER house, this one’s gonna be three stories--with a zip line. Let’s see who J wants to stay with then!
TR: No doubt, he’ll love the new one.
L: All he does at his Mom’s is watch cartoons while she works in her home office—you know, the one I ADDED and FURNISHED for her while we were married.
TR: He’s probably tired when he gets home from school. It’s a long day for a five-year-old.
L: I don’t care if it is just kindergarten, he should get straight off the bus and do homework. If he doesn’t have any homework, he should be reading for at least half an hour. After that, he should ride his bike. His MOTHER, though…
TR: I’m sure the divorce has been hard on her.
L: She’s the one who wanted the divorce. Not me.
It always ends with that line, in spite of the fact that he cheated on her, something he freely admits. I don’t get it: He slept with another woman, claims his ex is an unfit mother and human, and yet he did NOT want a divorce—would STILL be married to her if he had his way. So he trashes her every opportunity he gets.
Last night, it was the same. Before I could tell the Ass (short for associate) anything about Portfolio Center, he launched into a diatribe about his ex—about how she never disciplines their sons properly, how she never follows through on her punishments, how her idea of restriction is to take the kid's Halo away while he eats his Happy Meal.
We used to have a teacher here at school who saw his kids once or twice a year. They lived in LA with their mom, and he’d moved to Atlanta to live with his sweet young thang. Every summer, during their visits, he’d brag about how he never let them watch tv at his house, how they’d sit around on the porch in the evenings and he’d tell stories. He also made them get up early every morning to eat breakfast together. If they didn’t feel like eating at 6 a.m., they had to sit at the table anyway, while he read aloud from the front page of the newspaper. Those kids needed to be informed!
The children were none too pleased with this arrangement, he said, but he was a big enough man to endure their pouting. He wasn’t like their mother who, according to his accounts, probably let them eat fried chocolate and watch Cinemax. What a smug jack-off he was, with his shack-up hottie and his annual Daddy Duty.
Of course, I have my own experience with the subject, but I’ve sworn off personal accounts re my ex. All I’ll say is that I feel bad for the divorced women who went into their marriages with good faith and reproduced with men they believed would make good husbands and fathers. It’s hard when you find out your husband is a liar and a cheater, and divorce is a difficult thing to recover from. You spend half your energy trying to repair your self-esteem and dealing with the guilt that comes with failing to keep your kids’ family intact.
And whether the father moves to the other side of the neighborhood, across the state, or cross-country, it’s more often than not the mother who bears the brunt of the day-to-day, who scrapes the oatmeal off the kitchen table, changes the wet sheets, and breaks up the fights over the remote—yes, the remote to the tv we let them watch.
And it's the mom the children take it out on--the divorce. Because they know she won't leave them, won't turn her back on them, won't punish them for their feelings.
So give us a break.