I believe I once characterized my town as “not exactly a Stepford community,” but something close.
It is, in many ways, worse than Stepford.
Tonight I had a new friend over for dinner. D and I met through another dear friend, and upon discovering that we are both newishly (is that a word? she brought wine; consider yourself forewarned) divorced, we bonded instantly. So we’ve known each other a while, but it has taken some time to finally coordinate a get-together. We ran into her at the beach today… and when I discovered that we were both going to be kidless tonight, I invited her for dinner. I was thrilled when she came over.
D and I both know a third woman–also through the same friend who introduced the two of us–who is also newly divorced. This third woman, let’s call her Cleo (that’s short for Cleopatra, Queen of Denial), is quite something. She’s been separated and (I think) even legally divorced much longer than either D or I have, but downplays that fact quite a bit. And by downplay, I mean she boldface lies about it to most people. She’s told us the truth, because we’re divorced, and part of her really does want some acceptance and kinship with other women like her. But to watch Cleo in action at a party is mind-boggling. She pretends she’s still married. She cannot abide the thought of being rejected by anyone she perceives as the “elite” of our snobby little town.
Cleo also confessed to me and our mutual friend, one night, after quite a few drinks (her, not me) that she was sleeping with her divorce lawyer. Oooooh, classy! This was, mind you, after she’d insisted to me on multiple occasions that she was nowhere near ready to date. I guess I just misunderstood. Technically, she didn’t say she wasn’t ready to screw.
Needless to say, I wasn’t halfway through my glass of wine before I felt the need to share with D the story of Cleo spilling the beans about schtupping her lawyer. We laughed until we cried. D has also been present for many of Cleo’s long, intense soliloquies about how she just isn’t ready to get involved again. For some reason, dissing this poor woman over pizza and wine was a fabulous evening.
So, okay. We made fun of this woman who so desperately wants to fit in with our town’s “society” that she will lie, deny, and otherwise cloud the realities of her life to appear more acceptable to the ladies of the Junior League. I’m a very cheap date, and one glass of wine will do that to me. Mea culpa.
The reality? I feel so sorry for Cleo. I do. Life is too short to pretend to be someone you’re not.
Guess what? My marriage crumbled. I’m divorced. I’m still a worthwhile person, I still deserve to live here, and if you so much as look at me sideways like you feel sorry for me in any way, I will occupy myself elsewhere, thanks. This is my life. Good, bad, indifferent, it’s mine. I’m not going to lie about it or dress it up for anyone. You don’t like it? Fine. Enjoy your self-appointed time as judge and jury. But you’re not worth my time.
Even here in Stepford, I’ve had no trouble finding myself a plethora of friends who love me for who I am. I think it’s beyond sad that Cleo is so unsure of herself (or is it of the rest of us?) that she dare not chance embracing her reality, lest she be rejected. And her inability to be honest infuriates me, because she’s condemning me and D and all the other imperfect women along with her, in her refusal to risk being herself. I want to shake her. I want to tell her that anyone who can’t deal with her reality–my reality–isn’t worth it.
But of course I have no control over her. So I will just make fun of her behind her back. All the while, reaffirming my decision to basically write off anyone who can’t deal with me on my terms.
I didn’t say it was rational. Or mature. But really? Pretending you’re not divorced? Continuing to wear your big-ass diamond? Lying to people so they won’t think less of you? It makes my skin crawl. Is there any greater self-hatred?
Hi, my name is Mir, and I’m divorced. I’m also a cheap date, and well-buzzed on a single glass of wine. I’ll make you a deal. You be yourself, and I’ll be myself. Flaws and all. Doesn’t that make it all more interesting?