The Ex-Wife Files
The term “ex-wife” conjures up an image as biased as “mother-in-law.” Any man I’m apt to meet at my age usually has one Ex, if not two or three. The prospect of meeting her for the first time is sort of like entering a zoo cage and hoping to get out unscathed. To her, I was probably a curiosity. To his kids whom I’ve already met, well, they’re grateful he has someone; and to his grandkids, I’m Grampa’s hot girlfriend.
“My Ex is flying in from the Coast for Ben’s graduation,” my sweetheart Donald said, after checking his e-mail. “Wonderful,” I lied. I didn’t say I was happy that she lived on one coast and I on the other.
“Should I be worried?” I inquired.
“No, Doll, she’s ancient history.” I love it when he calls me Doll. My heart melts each time I hear the word drip from his lips. Then he dropped the bombshell: “We’ll be sitting at her table.” Her table. This could be the graduation from hell, I thought.
On commencement day, as we sat down at her table, Alice touched my arm and whispered so the whole table could hear: “Don looks so thin. Is he eating?”
“He believes that the less you eat, the longer you live,” I pointed out
“That’s only been proven in laboratory rats,” Alice said authoritatively.
Great Aunt Grace cut in: “Don doesn’t look thin to me. He has small bones.”
“Look, Doll,” Donald glowered toward Alice. “I’m wearing this blue suit for the first time in years.”
Whoa! Who’s the Doll here? I thought I was Doll. Did he use this pet name for all his women, including an ex-wife? I chalked it up to the stress. Under stress, a man could easily forget which woman was Doll.
“What are you doing now,” Alice asked me. “I heard you don’t have a job?”
“I’m working freelance,” I announced, somewhat on the defensive.
“Isn’t it a bear to be unemployed?” she added.
“Actually, Alice, I’ve sold a number of articles recently. High-Sky Magazine bought my latest piece on eating wild game.”
“I never read those boring in-flight magazines,” intoned Alice.
Great Aunt Grace piped in: “I always work the crossword puzzle to avoid thinking about turbulence.”
“Can you make any money writing for a magazine that’s handed out free,” Alice inquired.
“They paid me very well to bore a million readers.”
Disregarding this possible windfall, she said: “Don, I noticed you’re wearing those expensive loafers that sat in the closet for years. You said they pinched your feet.”
“They fit like a glove since Barbara took them to her shoemaker and had them stretched.”
“Barbara, dear, you are so enterprising – and manage to live on so little. I admire frugality in people.”
As he dug into his baked potato, Alice’s brother Harry croaked in. “Alice, you always lived high on the hog. Even when we were kids, you had to have designer shoes. Stride-Rite was never good enough for you.”
“Harry, you still haven’t learned, have you?” rebuked Alice.
“Have it, spend it. That’s my mantra,” Alice pointed out. “Bob and I just got back from a 20-day cruise in the Far East. On the ship, we booked Gold Class and were bumped up to Platinum for being the ten-thousandth couple to sail on the Crystal Grand.”
“I’m sorry Bob couldn’t make the graduation,” I said. “I was looking forward to meeting him.” Bob was Alice’s new man she had met at a high school reunion.
“Barbara, dear, I hear you and Don went to Maine for a few days last summer.”
I wanted to ask her to stop calling me “dear.” I had a name, and it was Doll!
“We enjoy the simple life,” I retorted.