“Ah, yes, Divorce…from the Latin Word Meaning:
To rip out a man’s genitals through his wallet.”
My 13-year old marriage was ending; I was tired of fighting with my wife all the time; and I hated my job. In essence, my life really sucked.
The only consolation to my grief was that my soon to be ex-wife and I had agreed on an amicable separation. We would split our assets down the middle, wish each other well, and go our separate ways.
Unfortunately, however, one of her friends suggested that she see a certain lawyer in town who specialized in defending women in divorce cases. So she did, and when I got the paperwork, I couldn’t believe what I soon read.
A simple fifty-fifty split between two civilized adults had suddenly and horribly turned into something very different. This lawyer had summarily determined that my soon to be ex-wife would get all of the proceeds from the sale of our home, the good car, and worst of all, sole custody of my dog. I was now furious beyond belief.
I immediately hired my own lawyer. I explained the terrible situation to him, and I told him that I would not, under any circumstances, give up my dog. Period. He proclaimed that he understood completely, and he told me not to worry about a thing. He said he had tons of experience protecting husbands’ rights in these matters. He assured me that he would take care of everything. He told me to relax.
Several weeks later, my lawyer phoned and told me that he had taken care of everything to my complete satisfaction. He once again assured me that there was nothing to worry about. He even told me that I didn’t even have to bother showing up for the court-date. It was all just a routine matter now.
When I pressed him about my dog, he gushed all over himself and proclaimed that I would be more than satisfied with the outcome. Somehow, I wasn’t too reassured by his pompous speech. I decided that I better attend the court proceeding anyway.
As I soon half-heartedly sat in divorce court, absentmindedly hearing the end of my marriage being discussed by complete strangers, I suddenly sat bolt upright and paid very close attention. Evidently, my wife and I had not decided our futures at all; our two high-priced lawyers had.
Suddenly, I heard the judge solemnly proclaim: “To the wife go the assets from the sale of their home; to the husband go most of their communal bills. To the wife go the new Buick sedan; to the husband the old Ford station wagon. And, the wife obtains sole custody of their pet Schnauzer, Pepper, although the husband will receive monthly visitation privileges.”
I quickly turned and glared at my lawyer with raging fire in my eyes. He patted me on the back and told me that he had insisted on those monthly doggie visitation rights. He wanted me to congratulate him and shake his hand. I wanted to pummel him to death.
I jumped up, ran toward the judge, and yelled, “Objection your Honor! Although none of this stuff was what we agreed on, I can live with everything you said except the part about giving up my dog. No one is taking that dog away from me, Judge. No one!”
As the burly bailiff hastened towards me with a very mean scowl in his eye, the old judge put up his hand and stopped him. He must have been a dog lover himself. Since my wife and I had no children, he took pity on me, and quickly amended his ‘most honorable decision’ by granting me weekly visitation rights to my pooch, instead of just monthly visits.
Some consolation I thought, as I stormed out of that courtroom, too angry to speak further with anyone. I immediately decided to race home, snatch my dog, and head for the hills. I seriously doubted that anyone would come after us.
But what if they did? Maybe I can change my identity; move to another state. Think, man, think!
That’s when I heard my now ex-wife shouting at me from high atop the courthouse steps. Her lawyer had evidently not robbed her of all compassion. She told me that I could keep my dog.
I hugged her, kissed her, thanked her profusely, and headed off on my new and very different life.
The very next morning, I loaded all of my earthly possessions – my clothes, my fishing gear, and my dog - into my old Ford station wagon with the leaky transmission.
Although I was now homeless, penniless, and divorced, I still had my dog.
I stared at my former home one last time that warm summer’s day. I knew I would really miss it. I had some wonderful memories of the old place, and there was a time here when our married life had been a very happy one.
After reminiscing for quite some time, with a few small wet tears welling up in my eyes, I finally put the old wagon in reverse and pulled out of my old driveway for the very last time.
I will never forget that morning. I just drove, with no particular destination in mind. I drove and drove and drove, with sweet little Pepper at my side.
I had no idea where I was going, where I would live, or what I would do now. So I just drove on and on.
The words to one of my favorite songs, Smilin, by Tim McGraw, now come to mind, when I think of that day:
“Dreams, I got my own,
I ain’t lookin for a yellow brick road,
I’m just gonna go my own way.
The sky is blue, and the sun is shinin,
I feel like a bum, with a pocket full of diamonds!”
I did feel like a bum with a pocketful of diamonds that warm summer’s day, now so long ago. I still had some fond memories that I would always cherish, and I still had my dog!
I hugged Pepper; she affectionately licked my face; and we headed off down that long lonesome highway on our new life together. And what a different life it would be.
©2004, An Excerpt from Curious Creatures-Wondrous Waifs, My Life With Animals, by Ed Kostro