Sometimes life hands you a kick in the ass and at other times it hands you a rose. I got my kick in the ass one Saturday morning at breakfast. Mavis sat across from me fiddling with her cup of coffee. "Wilbur, I want to tell you something."
I looked up from my paper. I could see that my wife was serious, so I folded it and laid it beside my plate, giving her my full attention. She continued. "You know we have been married for twenty years next month. Mindy is almost nineteen and will be off to college in the fall. You have your circle of friends and I have mine. We have drifted apart these last few years. I haven't minded but I've decided I want more out of life than what we have.
"I have my career in real estate and you are in sales. We both make a good salary. Getting Mindy through four years of schooling isn't going to be a burden if we split the costs. What I'm leading up to is I think we should divorce and each go our own way."
"You are saying you don't love me? Twenty years invested in a fairly happy marriage means nothing?"
"Of course I still have a great amount of affection for you, but it isn't enough."
"Is there someone else?"
"Not at present, but there could be. I'm forty and life isn't exciting anymore. I know you too well to expect we will ever regain the spark that brought us together. You are home only two weeks out of the month. Once a year we go somewhere on vacation and it is the same as it is here at home. Our life is totally blah."
"Some of what you say is true. You haven't considered my feelings, though. You still excite me as much as when we were first married. Our chosen careers have kept us from being together as much as I would like. As you say, I'm on the road a lot, and when I'm home you are out most evenings showing property. On vacations you tend to want to shop continually. Is it lack of sex that brought this on?"
"No, I have no complaints about lack of sex. You still are an adequate lover."
"Shouldn't we consider counseling before you decide we should separate?"
"What good would that do? We would bare our souls and someone would tell us what to do with our life with information from a textbook. I don't see that it would do any good. It would cost a lot of money and wouldn't change a thing. I'd rather pay for a divorce and have it over with. We would still be friends and still be bound together through Mindy."
Being a salesman like I was, I knew when a sale was lost. I made one more attempt. "Have you told Mindy?"
"I have hinted about it some. So far she hasn't picked up on it. Would you be the one to tell her without trashing me? You have always been closer to her than I have."
"Okay, I can do that. I think you are making a mistake, but if you don't want me anymore, I won't beg. I still love you Mavis, and I must say this is quite the surprise to me. I had no indication whatsoever. I'll put together a list of my assets for the settlement. I should have them by Wednesday. You know what law firm I will be using. You can have the divorce papers delivered to them for perusal."
Mavis sat there staring at me. I picked up my cell and called the Radisson and booked a room, after negotiating for long-term weekly rates. I next called Mindy, who had stayed at a friend's house last night, asking her to meet me this afternoon at the Radisson.
"You're rushing this, aren't you?"
"Maybe, but you wanted a done deal, so I see no sense in dragging it out. You know my feelings and I know yours. Let's get it over with and move on." I went upstairs and packed a suitcase. This was easy for I spent half my life in hotel rooms and knew what I needed. As I was leaving I glanced to my side of the bed and saw our wedding picture displayed there. I opened the frame and cut my likeness away from hers. I then put it back together leaving her picture all alone in the frame. What I had taken, I threw in the wastebasket that still contained the tissues from last night's session of what I thought was love.
Carrying my bags down, I set them by the door and faced Mavis. "I'll arrange storage for the few things I've accumulated. Luckily I have never been into tools or collections. When I was home I wanted to spend my time with you and Mindy. Maybe that is why I'm so close to Mindy. She was often the only one here. You take care Mavis. I hope this move brings you happiness." I turned toward the door and picked up my bags.
"Willie Peter, aren't you even going to kiss me goodbye?"
"No. If I did, you might see a grown man cry." Mavis was standing in the doorway watching me back out into the street. I ignored her and slowly drove away.
The room booked for Wilbur Peter Johnston was ready and I moved in and unpacked my bags, which took all of fifteen minutes. My phone rang. "Dad, Mom just called and she was crying. What did you do to her?"
"Mindy, she asked for something and I gave it to her. If she didn't give you any of the details, I'm supposed to. Instead of waiting until this afternoon to meet me, I'll have a table at lunch here in the dining room. I'll tell you all about it then." I hung up and laid down on the bed.
I was blind-sided by this. I had no idea! If she was unhappy, why didn't she say something? What a time for this to happen too. In a month's time I was coming off the road and would be here in the home office. The promotion I had worked so hard for had come through and I was informed yesterday I was to be the new district manager. I felt to tell her now about my different situation would be begging. I didn't even know if I wanted to tell Mindy either.
One other little thing. I had a month off before starting my new duties. Mavis would have learned all of this if she had waited until after I had finished my paper this morning. She just started the conversation a few minutes too soon. Well, that's life I guess. Why did I put off telling her last night while we were lying in bed after making love--or why did I have to read my paper before giving her the good news?
I dozed while thinking back over our life together. Neither one of us were able to go to college, coming from lower middle-class as we did. Everything we both had accomplished came from dedication and hard work. Mavis didn't have to be out showing property in the evenings anymore, but she still did it. I resented that she left me home alone and I never let on, but maybe she sensed it. I was on the road so I could obtain the manager's job that came to me yesterday.
Mindy was born just a few days short of the first year's anniversary of our nuptials. Time and money were really tough at that time, but we worked through it. We were able to afford the necessities, but the luxuries didn't come until she was in high school and Mavis could give all of her time to the real estate agency. My employment had just been a steady long haul upward.
I got up and stripped. I stood in front of the full-length mirror to assess my looks. My hair was turning just a little gray. I might have two more inches around my middle that I didn't need, but I stood erect and I had learned to walk with confidence when meeting prospective clients. I knew I could attract women if I put my mind to it. That is why I always kept out of bars while on the road. A lonely salesman was too susceptible to the blandishments of the cougars that prowled the nightspots.
What about Mavis? Did she have someone waiting in the wings. It was a definite possibility. I hated to think that--but? I couldn't tell, because now I didn't know her anymore. She certainly was attractive enough. Damnit, life sucks!
Mindy was waiting for me outside the dining room at lunch time. I smiled and gave her a hug. She started to say something and I asked her to wait until after we had eaten. "Dad, what's going on?"
"Your Mom asked for a divorce. I'm a salesman and I couldn't sell her on keeping me, so I cut my losses and moved out. I have a room upstairs." I was curious. "What did she say?"
"She said you moved out on her. She said you destroyed your wedding picture before leaving. She was crying terribly hard."
"Look, she wanted a divorce and expected me to remain her friend. I don't see how that is possible. Mindy, I never saw this coming. I thought we had a good marriage. Maybe it isn't great, but at least we respected each other. Now for some reason she wants out. I'm not begging to remain. With me, it is all or nothing. Does it hurt? It hurts more than you can imagine. I've thought maybe she has another lover, although I can't imagine it. She said she can find someone else, although she doesn't have anyone now, but that may just be denial."
"So what are your plans?"
"Nothing solid. Go on with my life. Accept what life has given me. That means you and almost twenty years of what I thought was a happy marriage. If your Mom thinks she can find another mate, then I think I can too."
"But Dad, you belong with Mom."
"I thought I did, but how am I going to get beyond what she said this morning? I love you very much, but I think you should stay out of this. I told her to see my attorney and I would have my, or should I say our, assets listed by Wednesday. I'll be fair, but I'm not going to give her everything. Your schooling is safe. This year's tuition is paid and I'll pay next year if I have to without her help. I should be in a position to do that by then."
"Can I see your room?"
"Sure, it is the same as the million I have stayed in over the course of the last twenty years. Rooms that I have stayed in waiting to get home to my loving wife and beautiful little daughter." I couldn't help it. Tears came to my eyes. I tried to hide them, but I wasn't too successful. Mindy squeezed my hand as we entered the elevator.
.... There is more of this story ...