After four decades together you would think that life had fallen into the pattern that would take you to the end of your days and you could look forward to leaving this world in the comfort of your beloved’s arms. Believe me when I tell you that it comes as a shock when you find out that it isn’t going to be that way.
I met Ida at a very difficult time in my life. My wife of seven years was pulling away from me and no it wasn’t another man. It was an idea that was pushing us apart. Well, maybe not an idea, but it sounds better saying that than saying it was a religion.
I travelled a lot in my job and sometimes I was gone for a month at a time. While I was on one of those long trips a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses rang the doorbell and my wife invited them in. By the time I got home from the trip the wife had been hooked.
It wasn’t a problem at first. When it comes to religion my attitude is live and let live. I won’t go so far as to say I deny that there is a supreme being, but as far as I’m concerned if there is one he isn’t worth wasting time on. There is too much misery in this world to believe that there is a supreme being who gives a rat’s ass about us.
The ‘Good Book” tells us that God so loved the world that he gave us his only begotten son, but he also gave us AIDs, Ebola, floods and famine. Take a look at the pictures in National Geographic of starving African children with flies crawling across their faces and tell me again how much he loves us.
I am not using these pages to try and get an argument over religion going. I am merely pointing out how I view religion so you will have some understanding of what was taking place between the wife and I.
If someone wants to waste their time on a religion, and I don’t care which one it is, it is their business and none of mine. My wife was well aware of my position on religion when she joined up with the Witnesses. Again, if she wanted to practice a religion I didn’t care; just leave me out of it.
But of course she wouldn’t – or couldn’t.
The wife kept trying to pull me into her new found religion and I kept tell her no and to keep her nonsense to herself. She responded as women through the ages have responded in order to get what they want. She used sex as a weapon. More to the point it was the lack of sex. She wasn’t subtle about it at all. She flat out let me know that the bedroom would remain ‘frosty’ until I got my head out of my ass and set aside my ‘juvenile’ beliefs.
I have to admit to being a tad naïve. We loved each other right? She loved sex as much as I did so the withholding wouldn’t last long right? It was just a ploy and when she realized it wouldn’t work we would get back with the program right? It lasted over three months and I’ll never know if it would have ended or not because some other things came up that pushed having a sex life into the background.
When we first married the wife talked me into buying a set of the Encyclopedia Britannica along with signing up for the yearly updates. It was to be an investment in our future children’s education. I returned home from one of my business trips, pulled my car into the garage and when I got out to go into the house I found several volumes from the set in the trash.
When I got in the house I asked her why they were out in the trash and she said that they contained false and misleading information and in some cases outright lies.
“They are full of nonsense about things like evolution and the origins of man. I don’t want our kids exposed to trash like that.”
I lost it and I told her that she WOULD NOT, repeat WOULD NOT throw any of our property out without discussing the matter with me first and furthermore I believed that the information she was upset about was true.
I brought the volumes in from the garage and put them back on the bookcase shelf with the rest of the set. I got a nasty look and a cold shoulder for the rest of the day.
When I came home from work the next day the books were again out in the trash only this time the offending pages had been ripped out of the book and thrown on the garage floor where I couldn’t miss seeing them. When I walked into the house I found the wife waiting for me with a defiant look on her face. I could see she was just itching for a confrontation. Okay I thought, she wants a war I’ll give her one!
I didn’t say a word to her; I just walked past her into the dining room. There was a hutch there filled with a set of china that had been handed down from her great grandmother to her grandmother to her mother and then to her as a wedding gift. There were three volumes in the trash so I took out three place settings and smashed them on the hardwood floor while the wife screamed at me and cried while I ignored her. Then I went to our bedroom and moved all my things into one of the spare bedrooms. Needless to say that if the previous night was a bit frosty that evening was downright frigid.
Things did not get any better between us over the next couple of weeks and then I went out of town on another trip and was gone for a week and a half. I got home on a Wednesday morning and since the house was between the airport and work I stopped at the house to drop off my suitcase. The wife wouldn’t be home because she was a school bus driver. I got there just as the mailman was delivering the mail so I grabbed it and took it into the house.
One of the pieces of mail was an envelope from the electric company with red letters stamped on it saying “Overdue Notice.” Because of my constant trips the wife handled all of the bill paying and I made enough money that bill paying should never be a problem for us.
I opened the envelope and saw that we owed one hundred and fourteen dollars. One of the other pieces was our bank statement and I opened it and saw we had more than enough to have paid the bill and then I saw something that sent me through the roof. There were the usual photocopies of our cancelled checks and three of the checks for a total of five hundred and thirty-five dollars were made out to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I got up and went to the file cabinet where we kept our records and looked at the two previous month’s bank statements and found checks totaling four hundred and sixty dollars and five hundred and thirty dollars also made out to the Witnesses.
I was pissed! I’m busting my ass to put money in the bank so we can eventually buy a house instead of having to rent and the wife was giving it away to a stupid religion. Fuck that shit!
I went into work, turned in my paperwork and brought the boss up to date and then I took the rest of the day off. I left work and went to our bank and closed the joint account and the savings account and then opened new accounts in my name only. I stopped at the power company, paid our bill and then went home and waited for the wife to get home.
When the wife got home I told her what I’d found and what I had done about it. I told her that from then on I would handle the bill paying. I would give her an allowance to run the house and if she wanted to piss away money on a religion she could give them what she got from the school district for driving a school bus. That hit her where it hurt because I had agreed that when she took the job she could keep what she made driving the bus as her mad money. It wasn’t all that much since she only worked five hours a day and was off for spring break, summer vacation and all the other times that school wasn’t in session.
There was more, a lot more, but I’ve given enough information so that you can understand why I didn’t rush home from work anymore.
I started stopping after work to have a beer or two with the guys I work with. And that is where I met Ida. She was one of the waitresses there and she was friendly and always seemed to have a smile for me.
She was a sexy looking lady and even though she wore a wedding ring the guys all hit on her whenever we stopped in. She didn’t lead anyone on she just treated it like a joke. Always saying something like “I don’t think my husband would approve” or “You’ll have to ask my husband if it’s okay with him.”
I wasn’t one of those who hit on her because regardless of what was happening at home I’d made some vows in front a lot of relatives and friends and I would keep them and for better or worse was one of them and of course there was the promise to forsake all others.
There were times I would stop at the bar by myself and if the place was dead Ida would sit with me and we would talk and I got to know here a little better. She had two kids, a five year old girl and a three year old boy, and I laughed and told her she didn’t look old enough to be working at the bar let alone have two kids. I knew she had to be twenty-one to work there, but she didn’t look a day older than seventeen. She just smiled and said she was older than she looked.
The next month went by and then I was off on another trip and when I came back from it the wife told me she wanted a divorce. I wasn’t upset or crushed. I just looked at her and said:
“What about your God? Didn’t you stand in front of our friends and relatives in The New Hope Lutheran Church and with your God watching swear that you would be with me until death do us part? Or is it your belief that the God who witnessed our joining is a different God than the one you worship now? That it? You think each religion has its own special God? That there are a hundred or so supreme beings?”
“What do you care? You don’t believe in any of them!”
‘“This isn’t about me; this is about you and the promises that YOU made. Whatever. You want a divorce go ahead and get one.”
I walked away from her and went to my room. The next morning she was waiting for me in the kitchen when I got up.
“My church will only accept divorce if it is because of infidelity.”
“So who have you been cheating on me with?”
“I haven’t cheated on you. You should know me better than that.”
“I don’t know you at all anymore, but that’s beside the point. If infidelity is the only kind of divorce your church will accept and you are truthful when you say you haven’t cheated you are shit out of luck because I’ve never cheated on you.”
“All you have to do is not fight it when you get the divorce papers.”
“Why would I want to be branded a cheater? Why don’t you just grab some guy and have an affair?”
“It has to be you because the cheating spouse gets exiled from the church and since you don’t belong it won’t hurt you any.”
“No thanks. I’m not comfortable with it being a matter of public record that I’m a cheater. Anyone can check public records and someday someone may run a records check on me, find our divorce record and hold it against me that the record says I’m a cheater.”
“Why fight me on this? You know you don’t want me!”
“I don’t want the you that you are now, but I’m hoping the you you are now will get her head out of her ass and that the woman I married will come back to me.”
She gave me a nasty look and left the kitchen. I shrugged, poured myself a cup of coffee and went to work.
I started stopping more often at the bar and staying longer. Not going home until I thought the wife would be in bed and I wouldn’t have to talk to her.
The more time I spent at the bar the more Ida and I talked. She managed to get out of me why I was spending more and more time at the bar and after hearing my tale she must have decided that she could trust me with her story. She wasn’t married. She was a divorced single mother trying to raise two kids on a waitresses pay and tips. The rings were real she just hadn’t taken them off when her divorce was final. Her reasoning was that it would keep the cock hounds away. I thought that it wasn’t working because she got hit on all the time anyway and it probably cut down the size of her tips, but it was her business and not mine so I kept my mouth shut.
Then one sunny Monday two things happened. I was at work and just about quitting time I was called up to the office and when I got there a man handed me an envelope and said:
“You have been served.”
The envelope held divorce papers which came as no surprise, but it also held an order of protection enjoining me from coming any closer than five hundred feet to my wife and that came as a complete surprise to me because I’d never laid a finger on my wife and had never ever threatened her with violence.
I read through the papers and found that she was divorcing me for infidelity. The papers also said I was to pay her five hundred dollars a week in alimony. Fat chance of that. She could get herself a real job and support herself.
In order to get my things I was going to have to arrange for someone from the court to go with me to monitor things. I immediately called the number on the order and found that it would be five o’clock the next afternoon before anyone would be available to escort me into the house. I thought about calling the wife and raising hell with her over the order of protection, but decided against it. It would just give her something to bitch about so instead I decided to give her something else to bitch about.
I called the landlord and told him I was not living at the house anymore and he would have to contact the wife to get the next month’s rent and then I called and cancelled all the utilities since they were in my name. Then I left work and went to the bar.
When I got there Ida was on the phone and when she hung up she was crying so I went over to her and asked her what was wrong. She’d gotten a call from her babysitter that her three year old had blown up the gas stove and had gotten burned. She needed to get home, but she was stuck at work. Her car wouldn’t start so a friend had driven her to work. Since she didn’t have a car she called a cab and was told it would be about half an hour until they could get one to her. I told her to call and cancel the cab and I’d run her home.
She gave me directions and it only took ten minutes to get there. She ran into the apartment and I followed ready to offer whatever help I could. Things weren’t as bad as Ida had been led to believe. Her son had gone into the kitchen and with a child’s curiosity started playing with the knobs on the stove. Somehow the pilot light hadn’t worked and with all four knobs turned on there was a bit of gas built up and then suddenly the gas had ignited in a flash and had singed the boy’s eyebrows, but there were no burns.
Once everything was under control I asked Ida to show me her car. It was a fourteen year old Plymouth and I asked her for the keys. There wasn’t even a faint click when I turned the ignition switch which told me that the battery was stone dead. I raised the hood and the problem was obvious. The negative battery cable was so corroded that it had split in half and the cable was lying on top of the battery, but not connected to it.
I carry a small tool kit in my truck so it was no problem to remove the cable, run to NAPA, get a new cable and install it. Once I had the car running I told Ida I had to leave and get myself a motel room and when she asked why I told her about my wife’s gift to me. She told me I could stay at her place. The couch folded out into a bed and I could stay there until I got an apartment. She said she would throw in dinner so I accepted her offer.
The next day I left work early and met the man from the court at the house. I rang the doorbell and when the wife opened the door and saw it was me she tried to close it, but I stuck my foot in so she couldn’t close it.
“You aren’t supposed to be here.”
“Well surprise surprise here I am and the gentleman with me is from the court and he is here to oversee the removal of my stuff from the house.”
“My attorney said tha...”
“Screw you and your attorney. Read your copy of the papers you served on me. They say I need someone from the court to be with me in order for me to get in the house and get my things. Mr. Reeves is from the court so I’m covered.”
At that point Reeves took out his wallet and showed the wife his badge and that shut her up for a minute or so, but then she followed me as I went through the gathering up my things and kept trying to get me to talk to her, but I ignored her. Finally I said:
“Just shut the fuck up. You are the one who got that bullshit order of protection. The way I read it it says I’m to have nothing to do with you and to me that means I’m not supposed to even talk to you and I wouldn’t want to violate that order so just shut up.”
It took an hour and a half to get all my stuff out of the house and garage and as I was leaving she asked:
“When are you going to start paying me my five hundred a week?”
“Depends on how bad you want to stay a member of your church.”
“What does that mean?”
“You told me that in a divorce for infidelity the cheater gets kicked out of your church right?”
“So here’s the deal. If I have to pay you five hundred a week I’m going to counter sue you claiming adultery. I might end up having to pay you, but at least I’ll have the satisfaction of getting you kicked out of the bunch responsible for this mess. Best you make up your mind and let me know how you want to play it by Thursday. If I don’t hear from you by then I’ll see an attorney on Friday and counter sue and I’ll make damned sure a copy finds its way to your church.”
“You couldn’t prove it.”
“You can’t either, but if I fight it and prove I didn’t I still win.”
“How do you figure that?”
“We will be divorced, but it won’t be for infidelity and that’s the only divorce your church will accept so they will kick you out anyway. You can call me at the office. By Thursday.”
I hit a storage place and rented a unit for my things until I knew what I was going to do. Before I left Ida’s place that morning I told her that since it was her day off I’d take her and the kids to dinner that night as a thank you for the use of her sofa bed. On the way to her place I stopped at a motel and got a room which got me in trouble with Ida.
“Why are you wasting good money on a motel room when you have a comfortable couch at my place for free?”
The upshot was that I stayed at Ida’s. The wife called me at work on Wednesday and we haggled for a bit and I ended up agreeing to pay her one hundred and fifty a week in alimony for two years. Three months after the divorce became final Ida and I married.
Fast forward thirty-six years. It was a normal marriage. We’d had our ups and downs, but we were still holding hands and touching and still made love two or three times a week which I considered great being that we were both in our sixties.
Ida’s kids had both grown up and married and had children of their. Ida and I never had any of our own because it turned out that I was sterile, but we had three grandchildren to spoil and we did
It was one of the grandkids that caused what happened. No – that isn’t fair. Ruth didn’t cause it. She had nothing to do with it directly. All she did was graduate from high school.
Two days before the event Ida told me that she wanted me to go with her to the graduation. I didn’t think I would be able to get the day off on such short notice, but I said I would try. I asked the boss and he told me he couldn’t spare me. With Charlie out of town working on the Fergussen account, Dave out of town on the Floydd project and Clara in the hospital with a burst appendix he needed me.
When I got home that night I told Ida that I wouldn’t be able to go to the graduation and why and she got pissed and started in on me with:
“You never do anything that I want. A simple thing like a graduation and you can’t even do that for me.”
And she went on and on berating me and it was all bullshit! I did everything she wanted even when it was something that I didn’t want. When we moved into the house we bought I spent a ton of money and time giving myself the backyard I’d always wanted. It was a little over a quarter of an acre and I put in trees, flower beds, a koi pond with a waterfall and an eighteen by eighteen patio with a gazebo.
I had it just where I wanted it when she told me she wanted a dog. The last thing I wanted was a dog because dogs dig. It’s their thing; it’s what they do. I could see all the money and work I’d put into the yard going up in smoke. She kept after me and finally I gave in and let her get a dog. And the dog did just what I knew it would do and in less than six months the yard was trashed. None of the flower beds survived and there were holes all over the place. Then she found out that the dog she got, a Siberian Husky, was a pack animal and needed another dog to keep it company and she hounded me until I said okay and she got another husky.
Next she wanted to rip out the carpet and put in hard wood flooring and I didn’t want to do it because I knew what would happen to the floor with two dogs in the house. Again she kept after me until I gave in. Less than a year after the floor went down it had to be refinished after the dog’s toenails had done their work. A year later it had to be refinished again for the same reason. Another nine months and a third refinish only that time the company doing the work said next time the floor would have to be replaced since there wasn’t enough surface left to do another refinish. Ida had to go out and buy a dozen or so throw rugs to cover the floor to protect it. Basically putting back the carpet that shouldn’t have been removed in the first place.
She wanted a Mustang convertible and I tried to talk her out of it by pointing out how impractical they were in bad weather. There just wasn’t enough weight in the rear end of the car to give decent traction in snowy or wet weather. But she kept after me until she wore me down and she got a 1993 Mustang convertible. It had the 5.0 engine and a five speed and she drove it like she was in a NASCAR race and sure enough when the snows came she was out running around in the car and the rear end broke loose and she spun out and wrecked the car.
Did she learn anything from it? Not Ida. She took the insurance money and bought another Mustang. It has been wrecked twice, both times in bad weather, but neither time bad enough that it couldn’t be fixed.
There were a host of other things. Simple shit like we would go out for dinner and I’d want to go to restaurant A and she would want restaurant B so we would go to B. On vacation I would plan on going to C and she would say she would rather go to D and I’d give in and D it would be.
When the kids had grown up and gone I wanted to sell the five bedroom house and get something more suited to just the two of us (and the dogs) but she argued and argued to keep the house so we would have rooms for the kids and grandkids when they came to visit. As usual I let her have her way.