Twit’s Note: For Part I, go here.
Our courtship wasn’t long: we got married within a few months of my moving in. But I blinded myself to a lot of things, most notably her drinking.
Things came to a head after a few too many alcohol-fueled incidents and I put my foot down, insisting she do something to help herself. She went to an AA meeting; I went along with her to the first one, as a show of moral support. After a few more meetings, she announced she didn’t want anything more to do with “those losers,” so she stopped going. At that point, I knew our marriage wouldn’t last. Her refusal to seek help and her constant “episodes” were just too much for me to handle, especially as I was still going to college full-time.
The end came crashing down hard on a day that should have been a happy one, for both of us. The parents of our mutual friend–the one who had introduced us–were having an afternoon party to celebrate their only son’s graduation from college (he had been going to FIU, too). Later that night, my then-wife and I were to go see the rock group REM at the Miami Arena. She wasn’t into their music but I had been looking forward to the concert a long time.
The party started out okay. But soon, I noticed she kept slipping out to the backyard–where the ice chests filled with beer and wine coolers were kept–one too many times. I reminded her–gently at first, as I knew her temperament all too well: had I pushed too hard, she’d do the very opposite of what I asked, just out of her natural tendency to defy everyone–not to drink too much because we were going to the concert later that evening.
My easy prodding didn’t have the effect I had hoped for. For whatever reason, she quickly became–there’s no other word for this–drunk to the point where the other partygoers were aware of her condition.
Embarrassed and already late for the concert, I told her we had to leave. “NO,” she snapped, “we’re not finished yet.”
“You mean YOU’RE not finished drinking,” I snapped back. We argued a bit and she finally relented, but not until after I had lost the desire to go to the concert. I made the mistake of letting her know I was no longer in the mood to go see REM.
“Oh no,” she said, the fire in her voice cutting through the alcohol, “we’re going to that damn concert if I have to drag you there myself!”
We got to the Miami Arena okay and by then I was looking forward to the concert again, as I had never seen REM live and I had heard they put on a good show. But my newfound enthusiasm was to be short lived.
We’d already missed the first set by the time we got to our seats, and to top it off she began to act like a bored, fidgety child in a church.
Then came “The Song.”
To this day, I get a chuckle whenever I hear “The Song.” I jokingly refer to it as the song that ended my marriage. Actually, our marriage had been ending almost since it started. The incident that began with “The Song” was just the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s (in this case, my) back.
My ex-wife had had many friends who were talented musicians. More than one smitten young musician had written a song in her honor. Perhaps that was why she took great offense at the way Michael Stipe, lead singer of REM, introduced the song “Stand:” “This is the greatest piece of music ever written in the history of the world!” To which everyone in the audience but her stood up and cheered, rather loudly.
Her reaction was to storm out of the seating area in indignation. The trouble really began when I refused to follow.
She came back for me, further enraged by the fact that I was dancing along to the song with the rest of the audience. Apparently, she had expected me to be as outraged as she was. I was, but not for the reason she thought.
She yelled at me, but it was hard to make out exactly what she was yelling, what with the roar of the crowd. Something about REM “daring” to call that song the “greatest ever.”
I lost it. I yelled back that I was tired of her, well, I’ll leave out the expletives, and that I was leaving her, period, and the concert, right then and there.
She grabbed my shirt to keep me from going anywhere and yelled that we were going to stay until the concert was over. I kept going, my shirt ripping apart, until we both pushed through the doors, rendering my decision to leave the concert irreversible (the Miami Arena wouldn’t allow you to return once you left).
She started slapping at me. I ran, and she ran after me, but in her state she couldn’t keep up. “Where are you going, come back here, dammit!” she yelled at my back.
“As far away from you as possible!” I yelled back.
We were divorced within three months.
Some years after our divorce–when she had remarried, had had her daughter, gotten divorced a third time and moved back into her mom’s house–I saw her again. I too had moved back into my mom’s house, in an effort to pay off debt I had accumulated (on my own and after our divorce, I should add).
She came by one day and we talked a little bit. I could see that “look” in her eyes again–maybe she was hopeful about us getting back together again or something. I don’t know. But I knew it wasn’t going to happen.
“Maybe we can go out or something some time,” she said, hesitating before adding, “As friends, of course.”
Smiling, I replied, “Of course,” and in my mind I added the word “not.”