Thanks to the Hip & Knee doctor for editing assistance.
1793 strawberry = a rare variety of a large cent.
Condition Census = a roster of the finest known examples of a specific variety of coin.
Penny Whimsy = reference book written by Dr. William H. Sheldon
I was sitting still, as if I was paralyzed, as my wife of twenty-five years, explained to me why she was handing me divorce papers. I was only hearing about half of what she was saying.
"Gary, are you listening to me? You look like you are in a daze. Pay attention, will you? This is important."
"I'm sorry. My mind drifted off for a minute. What were you saying again?"
"The terms are straightforward. There is nothing to contest. I am asking for nothing. Do you hear that? Absolutely nothing. You keep the house, the cars, and all the money in the bank. If you sign it, everything will be over in three months."
I did not know what to say. Marcie and I had been married since high school. We had raised two, beautiful twin daughters. Cindy and Sandy were both at Columbia studying International Banking. We had a nice house in the suburbs and we both drove Volvos. Marcie had her own credit cards and cell phone. I denied her nothing. I never cheated on her, or abused her verbally or physically. She had never indicated that she was unhappy or complained about anything. There was no way I could have prepared for this. I never noticed that anything was wrong. Maybe that was the problem: I wasn't paying enough attention.
"I understand the mechanics of the divorce, Marcie, but can you tell me why? I guess it is too late for me to do anything about it, but I'd like to know why."
Marcie sort of slumped in the kitchen chair. It was apparent that she did not want to discuss the reasons why, and was hoping that I would just sign the papers and let her get out.
"Just give me the short version, Marcie. What the hell did I do wrong?"
"You didn't do anything wrong, Gary. You were a perfect husband. I sometimes hoped that you would screw up so I would have a reason to leave, but you never did. You did a great job raising the kids and getting them into college. You always gave me everything I wanted, even if sometimes I was unreasonable. You bought me a beautiful house. My parents love you. Don't ever feel that you did something wrong, because you didn't."
She looked good for forty-five. She had a nice complexion and perfect hair. It was light brown and she had highlights that glistened in the sunlight. She jogged regularly and her body was nicely toned and tanned. She was a "Lands End" type of girl during the week, but was glamorous when she had to be. Marcie was as perfect as she claimed I was. I just could not understand the reasoning behind it.
"I'm sorry. It doesn't make sense. There has to be a reason. You can't say that everything is fine and then leave. There has to be a reason."
"Gary, I am trying to do this without hurting your feelings and without making myself look like a sleaze. Can we just leave it at that?"
"Gary, I found somebody else. He is a developer. He has a nice condo overlooking the river and drives a beautiful black Mercedes. He is good looking, rich, and is madly in love with me. You are, and always have been, a produce clerk in a supermarket. I am not demeaning your job because you always took care of us and always made enough for the family to be comfortable, however you will always be a produce clerk. I wanted more. I couldn't see you doing that for me. You were always content with what you did, and I could not see you trying to improve."
That hurt. I was the manager of the produce department and she still thought of me as a clerk. When I had had the chance to advance and move out of town, I had turned those opportunities down to keep the family together; now look at how I was being rewarded. It hurt, but it was not worth mentioning.
"Does this rich, good looking guy, have a name?"
"Clayton Manning. He is the president of the Keystone Development Company."
"How long have you known him?"
"Have you slept with him?"
Marcie sat straight up in her chair. Her eyes darted around the room and finally she looked me in the face. " Yes. I was trying to avoid the subject, but since you insisted on bringing it up, yes."
"You were still married."
"Yes, I was still married. I cheated on you. I was an adulteress. I was a whore. Are you happy now?"
I sat for a moment and then reached over and grabbed the divorce papers, I signed three places, initialed two, and pushed them back across the table to her.
"I guess he is a better man than I was. Sorry for the disappointment."
I got up and as I was walking out of the room, Marcie cried out: "No damn it. That was not the reason. He was not better than you, just different. Don't you dare go away believing that Gary, don't you dare."
By that time, I was out the door.
I was so wrapped up in my work and hobbies, that I had not even noticed that Marcie had been gradually moving her things out of the house. By the time she presented me with the papers, she had moved most of her clothes and personal items to Clayton's condo. She thoughtfully left all the wedding pictures and family photographs for me to enjoy in her absence.
When I returned to the house, she was gone. Her Volvo was still in the driveway, so I assumed she wouldn't need it anymore. She left a power of attorney to sell the house and her car on the kitchen table. I spent the rest of the night getting rid of the beer that was in the refrigerator.
I figured it was a done deal by this time. There was no going back and I had no desire to. Marcie was gone and she would stay gone. The next morning I called into work and took three months of overdue vacation. They were always nagging at me to take time off, so I didn't have any problem. I had plenty of vacation time and sick leave accrued. I made a quick call to the girls at school and briefly explained that we were splitting, but refused to give them any other information. They wanted to call Marcie, but I didn't have her new phone number. I had three months to get myself together and to decide what I was going to do.
I had the landline phone disconnected. I had my cell phone number changed and cancelled the one Marcie had. The Volvo dealer gave me low book value for Marcie's car. I had a friend from high school, Terry Davis, who was now a real estate broker. He agreed to sell the house with no listing, for a low price with a quick settlement. Just to be sure, I cancelled all the credit cards and opened new bank accounts. I cashed in my life insurance policies. It was time to clean house.
I went over the entire house and gathered together everything that might have belonged to my wife. There was enough stuff to fill three trash bags. I packed the girl's personal belonging in boxes and took them to a storage unit near the house. I spent three hours sorting through the family photos. I put all the pictures of the girls in a box for them. All the pictures with Marcie went into the trash. It was juvenile, I know, but I didn't give a shit.
The big problem I had, was a lack of direction. I had no idea what I was going to do after the three months were up. Would I stick around or move away? Would I continue working or find something new? I had two hobbies. I collected coins, primarily Indian head cents. They were easy to collect and readily available. I bought and sold on eBay and enjoyed myself doing it. My second passion was geocaching. It gave me an excuse to get outdoors and get some exercise. Marcie hated it because of the ticks, poison ivy, and walking required. I didn't see how I could make a living with either of my pastimes.
When I wasn't busy with my hobbies, I spent my time with the Wall Street Journal. Cindy and Sandy gave me a subscription every year for Christmas. I had no interest in the stocks or bonds, but read everything concerning farm commodities. I knew more about sugar, wheat, and corn than most market analysts. Of course, it was just a hobby. I had no money invested in any of it.
I researched everything available on Keystone Development and Clayton Manning. Terry Davis was able to get more information on Clayton and his present project, than I could. He was crosschecking some of the information with a friend of his, at one of the local commercial banks. I was anxious to see what he came up with.
Seven weeks had passed. I had not seen or heard from Marcie the whole time. The girls called every week, but they had not heard from their mother either. I got the feeling that they were on my side, but Marcie was their mother, and I am sure they would have to support her to some extent. I had several yard sales and unloaded a ton of stuff. I kept just enough furniture in the house so that it would show fairly well to any prospective buyers.
Marcie and Clayton had their picture in the society section of the Sunday newspaper. They were at a political rally, enjoying wine with the local movers and shakers. Several more weeks passed.
Terry got me an offer on the house. It was pretty low compared to the appraisal, but they wanted to close in sixty days, which would be perfect. He had some interesting background on Clayton and wanted to talk about it. We set up a date for lunch.
I decided to get out of the house for a while. I needed a break.
.... There is more of this story ...