We’re going through a divorce. No, not my husband I, but the neighborhood. In most neighborhoods a divorce ‘down the street’ would create a few ripples at most. In our neighborhood, which is practically an extended family, it has created a tsunami.
Okay, so here’s the story. Wifey (we’ll call her Susie-Q) up and left Hubby (we’ll call him Sam). Sam, mournful and morose, spent the next few weeks crying in his beer at each and every home on the block. It seems Susie-Q done him wrong, big time. First of all, she’s been cheating on him. He has proof. He was driving through town one day around noon and saw her car in the parking lot of a local restaurant. Sure enough, she was having lunch with an old flame from some sixteen years ago. So he’s caught her red-handed, doncha know. And if that weren’t proof enough, there’s the steamy Valentine card Old Flame sent to Susie Q. (Pass the card around. Exhibit A). And now that she’s dumped him for another man, she’s playing dirty pool. She waited until he deposited his retirement check and then emptied out the joint account. She had the electricity, cable and telephone disconnected, leaving him in the dark with no means of communicating with the outside world. She filed a ridiculous restraining order against him, claiming that he was violent and she was afraid for her safety. And she’s been sleeping with a loaded gun under her pillow (which Sam has retrieved and gives to a neighbor for safe-keeping. Exhibit B).
The neighbors are properly horrified. How could she? How dare she!! Well, that tears it. We’re sending her to Coventry – if she walks by, don’t even acknowledge her existence. Don’t talk to her, don’t look at her, and don’t, for heaven’s sake, ask for her side of the story.
Well, I happen to like Susie Q. She’s been my friend for years and yes, she has a short fuse and can be a bit of a hot head. She also has a habit of being brutally honest and offending people at times. Some would call those faults, but those qualities are part of what I like about her. I always know where I stand with Susie Q – she’s a straight-shooter. So I went to Susie and asked for her side of the story.
First of all, why did she leave Sam? They seemed to have a good marriage. Why run out on the poor man?
Well, it seems that Sam has been convinced that Susie Q was going to cheat on him from the day they said, “I do.” After all, he and his first wife cheated on each other, so it only made sense that Susie Q would do the same thing sooner or later. But he wasn’t going to be fooled this time. This time, he would see it coming. So he tapped her phone, put GPS trackers on her car and boat, and ‘security cameras’ inside the house. When he used the GPS tracker to follow her to lunch with an old friend, it was just one straw too many. She didn’t want to fight anymore. She didn’t want to have to prove her innocence over and over. She just wanted out. So she packed up her belongings and moved onto her boat.
But what about the steamy Valentine card? Wasn’t there more to this ‘friendship’ than just an innocent lunch?
Well, it turns out the Valentine card was sixteen years old, a relic from a bygone era. Maybe the yellowed paper and $1.50 price would have been a giveaway had anybody bothered to look.
Then why did she keep the card all these years? Was she still pining for the one who got away?
The truth is that Susie Q is the sentimental type who keeps everything, including the gum wrapper chain she made back in fifth grade.
Okay, but how about the dirty pool? I mean, really, emptying out the man’s bank account, cutting off his utilities, and filing a restraining order for cripe’s sake!
Well, he was living in the house but he wasn’t paying the bills. He didn’t pay the mortgage; he didn’t pay the utilities; he didn’t pay the insurance. So she took the money out of the joint account and paid off the bills. No more, no less. Then she gave him notice that he had two weeks to switch the accounts to his name before she cancelled them out. The restraining order was filed because he was continuing to spy on her, following her and watching her through binoculars. She just wanted to be left alone!
Okay, well there was the gun under her pillow . . .
Look, he has two guns of his own (a detail he failed to mention) and one of them was unaccounted for. She assumed he had it with him. She just felt safer with protection of her own . . . .
So . . . it all boils down to ‘he said/she said.’ Personally, I find the brutally honest, straight-shooter more credible than the smooth talker, but I realize that everyone colors the story to put themselves in the best possible light. That’s human nature.
And I do know this, whether it is a neighborhood drama or climate change or health care legislation, half the story is often worse than nothing at all.