In my search for some of the usual foolish fodder for which to write about, for some reason, while in the shower this morning, I started to think about some of the things that happened during the divorce process that were actually funny. I have absolutely no clue as to why that popped into my head as a topic, but it did. I do always see the humor in everything, even some of the worst events of my life. It’s what keeps me sane…and that in itself, is a debatable point: the level of my sanity.
I think I’ll start with one of my “favorite” memories: the time I first met my attorney.
I was a wreck. I had been married nearly 38 years and now I found myself sitting in this conference room/library, surrounded by volume upon volume of law books, at this very long shiny, hardwood table, waiting to meet the woman who would hold my fate for the next however many years of my life in her … well, not her hands, but in her brains. She had been recommended to me by my brother-in-law and nephew, who are both well known attorneys. I’d looked up her bio and saw that she was an honors graduate of an Ivy League school, played varsity tennis there and was in the University’s Athletic Hall of Fame as a scholar athlete. There was a lengthy list of other kudos and publications she’d authored, but no photo. In my mind, I saw a Gloria Allred type: fashionable and well-dressed, tallish, tan, lean and toned from days on the tennis court, etc.
When I arrived on the eighth floor of the law firm’s offices, I was brought to this rather intimidating room by an aide. I sat there for a while just fidgeting. Another aide came back several long minutes later and apologized for my attorney being late; she was on a conference call with a judge that was going much longer than had been anticipated. I sat a little longer and once again the door opened. I thought it was another aide coming to make sure I wasn’t pocketing any of the cheese danishes or the bottles of Perrier that were on the console near the window. A short, stocky woman with a moustache appeared. She was wearing an ill-fitting black corduroy pants suit, had about three inches of grey roots showing on top of her head of artificially jet black hair and a rather odd barrette (I seem to remember it was a butterfly?) holding back what I guess were bangs from her forehead. She sported rubber soled shoes and had dandruff crested heavily along her out-of-style jacket’s bulky shoulder pads. The word “nebbish” came to mind when I saw her. She stretched out her hand and smiled broadly and introduced herself. This was MyBrilliantAttorney, Esq. Not at all what I expected and I wasn’t sure how to react. I shook her hand and was glad she didn’t break my fingers. She looked like she could have done that easily.
I will tell you she was totally amazing…and dressed much better when in public view. Over the course of the next year, I watched her take men twice her size apart, growling and quoting the law at the same time, not only crossing every “t” and dotting every “i” but making sure the paragraphs were spaced appropriately and spell check was in full force. For all her feistiness, she never let me leave her office without hugging me and reassuring me it would all be okay. She was a woman who knew how to take care of her own and I felt lucky to have her. Except when I had to pay her fees. Then I was sorry I hadn’t gone to Staples and just got the DVD with the “Do-It-Yourself-Divorce Kit.”
The day of the actual divorce decree arrived unexpectedly. That sounds odd, but I will explain.
We were scheduled for an early settlement agreement conference at the court house since we were still trying to work out finances. It was to be a foursome of my ex, his lawyer aka “The Ogre”, me and MyBrilliantAttorney, Esq. We sat in the court room and watched people’s marriages dissolve and men taken away in handcuffs for non-payment of child support. Not where I thought I’d be at this point in my life, but I digress. When it came to our turn, we were instructed, as expected, to go to a meeting room across the hall and try to work out the finances amicably and come back and tell the panel that was convened how it went. My ex and I had already figured out what we were going to do and were just going through the formalities. There was the usual back and forth between the Ogre and MyBrilliantAttorney, Esq. as they battled for their turf while the ex and I tried not to look at them or each other. When all was said and done, what the ex and I had put together suddenly became their idea and it was good to go…which I guess is rather another odd thing to say. MyBrilliantAttorney, Esq. stood up and announced that there was no need to set another date or go back and report this to the panel, we could simply go before the Judge today, present what we had all agreed to and be divorced right then and there. We were both a little stunned by that but I realized it was time to just rip off the band-aid once-and-for-all and get on with life.
Now I get to the funny part.
We waited again, until it was our turn before the bench. We were seated at separate tables across an aisle, just like on Law and Order. The Ogre tried to pull a fast one at the last minute, much to the surprise of not only me, but also my ex. I guess he came out from under his bridge in a bad mood that day and was attempting to change the agreed upon deal at the last minute. There was a brief recess while MyBrilliant Attorney, Esq. grabbed him by the throat, threw him down on the ground, stomped on him three times, bit his leg and put back in place what we’d already agreed to not a half hour before. The lawyers stood up next to each other again and just as MyBrilliantAttorney, Esq. was about to present what had been agreed to, right in the middle of my divorce proceeding, the Judge called a recess for lunch.
My divorce was interrupted by His Honor’s need for a hamburger.
I looked at my attorney in disbelief. She opened her mouth to speak. I was waiting for some brilliant legal commentary or form of explanation as to why this had happened, but all she said was “Do you like sushi?”
Off we went. In the middle of ending my marriage, I was watching MyBrilliantAttorney, Esq. chow down spicy tuna rolls while I pushed brown rice around on my plate.
We did eventually get back to the court, the judge questioned us as to whether or not we understood the implications of this agreement. We both said yes (I was careful not to say “I do” since that got me there in the first place) and it was over.
I went to the parking garage to fetch my car. I guess I’d made an impression on the guy who handed me my parking stub earlier that day. In trying to find out if I was in the right place, I’d explained why I was there and probably in true OC Active Senior fashion, gave him too much information. As I pulled up at his booth and handed him the voucher and my payment, he refused my money, saying ”I’m paying for you.” He then handed me two small, unevenly cut pieces of paper which I have framed and sit on my desk even today. One read “Forget mistakes. Forget failures. Forget everything except what you’re going to do now and do it. Today is your lucky day. -Will Durant” and “Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared to believe that something inside them was superior to the circumstances. – Bruce Barton.”
I have never seen this man again and I doubt I ever will but I have thought of him often…just about every time I look at these quotes, framed on the desk that I’m sitting at right now. A random act of kindness from someone I didn’t know on one of the worst days of my life… but we all go on from those days. He helped me, not even knowing me. My life is very good and I am lucky to have come across people like him in the process. Even divorce can make you chuckle a little and nod your head. It was definitely a “Divorce My Style” whether I’d planned it or not.