In spring, they say, every man’s fancy turns to love. Perhaps it should be every man’s biological clock ticks a little louder. I say man deliberately. I choose my words carefully. I sensed a restless tick! tick! BOOM! in him that I never heard in myself. I often think he tried to transfer his biological clock to me to make me think I wanted something that I really didn’t. I think there are men who do this and succeed. My ex nearly succeeded. The day we filed for divorce I came home from work to find him on JDate. Any prospects? Yup. You hungry? Yup. It was all very anticlimactic, almost banal. I think we even went out to dinner.
His pursuit of other women began almost immediately after the initial filing. It was laughable, really. While out for a drink one afternoon with friends I watched as he hit on a young bisexual woman who was in a committed relationship with another woman. It made me think back to a time when we were first married where he said the only thing wrong with me was that I wasn’t bisexual. Apparently, bisexual women exist purely for his pleasure. That would change, of course. By the end, there would be so much wrong with me it would start tirades. His disregard for my presence was brazen. His conduct made others in our party visibly uncomfortable. Some clueless men are cute when they flirt. For him to flirt would have required tact and subtlety and a fundamental shift in his attitude towards women.
The second outing during the mandatory 90-day cooling off period was at a housewarming party hosted by mutual friends. I sat on the sofa next to the other cool married woman and watched him work the room: pursing his lips, knitting his brows, nodding, weaving. I’d seen his father do the same countless times when holding court. He looked out of place, odd, like a crane or a flamingo in a duck pond or a rabbit warren. As I drove h0me, he regaled me with tales of conquest-particularly or this “hot chick”, a “seven-out-of-ten” (his words, not mine)-over her pathetic boyfriend. In he end, she went home with her boyfriend and I drove the conquering hero’s inebriated ass home.
In separation, as in marriage, we were always together. It was nice when we were first married but it wore on me after a while. It wasn’t that we did everything together, we had to do everything together. We were involved in all the same projects, mostly his projects. I was roped into things to ensure we projected a united front. The longer our marriage went on, the more insistent be became on projecting this image. When he announced our separation, the constant togetherness confused people. It got worse. It turned into see how together we are? See what a great team we are even in separation? One person I told, thinking (mistakenly as it happens) that he already knew, commented that we were always together and we seemed to get along so well. People didn’t think it was real. My ex admonished people not to feel that they had to pick sides. I knew they were going to choose sides no matter what I asked.
I knew he was on a full-fledged fishing expedition but it really hit home when he started taking our young, single, female friends aside to tell them the news. It was like watching the Annunciation. Behold! I give you good tidings of great joy! For, yea, my wife and I are getting divorced, it is amicable and I have chosen you above all others to hear this news. Every time he took another friend aside, I half expected to hear Handel. I was able to gauge his interest by what he told them and how; was it one-on-one or in groups or pairs? One-on-one meant interest. Otherwise, she was safe. When he escorted one particular friend out of a bar, my suspicion that he had a crush on her was confirmed. It was obvious that he liked her and his constant denials were more about saying I was wrong and keeping me in my place. When she strolled back in, planted her hands on my table and said, I love you, my suspicion that the feeling was not mutual was also confirmed. Several months later I mentioned her to my ex he was rather blase about his crush on her. It ended, he said.
Other women pursued him too. One day he got a phone call from an acquaintance asking if wanted to accompany her to an outdoor art festival. Have fun on your date, I said. It’s not a date, he replied. I explained to him that when a woman phones you and invites you to an art show, it’s a date. They seemed at first glance to be well suited to one another. They’re both intelligent, nerdy, but I got the sense that she was more interested in him than he in her. The more I got to know her the more I realised why he wasn’t interested; she was too smart, too independent, too secure, and too strong for him. She wasn’t damaged like I was and he couldn’t get a toehold. I have a long fuse and finally one day it blew. The chapter on my marriage closed and this new part of my life started.