I try. I try to stay on the high road. But I’m human.
It was during my “War of the Roses Situation” or “The Invasion” as I called it, when my estranged husband, after two years, moved back into the marital home with children and I, without invitation or permission, as part of a legal maneuver. I’m still not sure what the legal maneuver was intended to accomplish . . . but I digress. The home was still marital property, thus absent physical abuse there was nothing I could do other than file civil motions to get him out, which would take weeks. I guess the emotional abuse of forcing himself in the home after two years didn’t count. In the meantime, he came “home” after work every night, slept on the couch, and began legal proceedings to evict me from the home which he’d chosen to leave years prior and which, he told me later, he never wanted. Yeah, good times, good times.
The only good thing was that a couple of months prior I had removed the television from downstairs to keep the kids from watching too much. So he was sitting in there in silence, with nothing to do. (He had no laptop or smartphone at the time.) Ha!
Anyway, I was shocked, outraged, miserable, and yes, pissed.
This was just so unnecessary; he had an apartment. So this wasn’t one of those – “I have no where to go” situations. I knew this. Surveillance with My Mother– The “Look- Out“. But because I was not on that lease, that apartment was his alone. But my home? It was still his home, too, technically, because his name was on the deed. Legally he could come and go at will, even though his “will” had been to move out years before. It was so unfair. I had no choice but to wait for the wheels of justice to turn and get that court order to get him out for good. In the meantime, I would play it cool. Real cool.
Remember that “Sex and The City” when Carrie’s boyfriend, Jack Berger, dumped her via a post-it note? She was, of course, livid. That same night when she ran into Berger’s friends, she intended to take the high road and just say hello. Instead, she took the lowest possible road, first informing his friends that Berger was a bad lover, then educating his friends on the right and wrong way to break up with someone. Much to her surprise, she did not play it cool.
Well, I had a Carrie moment. I hadn’t intended to say or do anything. I was going to take the high road. But this was my home and he was just sitting there on MY couch. He hadn’t lived with us for two years, but he was on MY COUCH! It was too much to bear. My internal GPS took me off the high road, just for a few blocks. Like Carrie Bradshaw, my efforts to play it cool failed miserably.
But I channeled a different Carrie. I went Carrie Underwood on his ass.
It was quiet, the children were asleep. He was just sitting there. So I took the opportunity to fill the room with the sounds of Carrie Underwood’s Before He Cheats. If you are unfamiliar, this is a country, pop-crossover tune with the following chorus:
I dug my key into the side of his
pretty little souped up four-wheel drive
Carved my name into his leather seats
Took a Louisville Slugger to both headlights
Slashed a hole in all four tires
Maybe next time he’ll think before he cheats.
Pretty self-explanatory. Gotta love country music, no hidden meanings.
You see, my estranged husband/roommate had an SUV that he loved. I could see it from the kitchen. It was red. It was parked in the driveway. Every time I saw that truck I wanted to hit it, or at least ‘key” it. What is up with women and keying cars? Is it like some sort of primal urge — like shoe shopping or chocolate for some women . . . but I digress. I’d never actually keyed a car, but somehow, I really, really wanted to.
Anyway, I blared the song, I mean blared it. Volume at 10. I sang along, “I dug my key into the side of his pretty little souped up four-wheel drive.” I danced, I whipped my hair. I pressed repeat. Oh yeah, I was jammin’. He sat motionless on the couch. He must have feared I’d lost my mind. And — I was standing in the kitchen — with all that cutlery.
Then I started to talk.
I went on and on about how dangerous it is to leave his car out on our dark driveway, that anything could happen to it. It really wasn’t safe. There had been some crime in the neighborhood lately, I told him. Maybe he didn’t realize since . . . HE MOVED OUT TWO YEARS AGO!!!!!
“I’m just saying,” I said, being ever so helpful.
He was non-responsive. But I think I made my point. Point being — that I might, I just might do something crazy.
Now, I’m too smart to actually commit vandalism. I would not intentionally destroy or devalue marital property. That would be bad. Plus, I never would have given him anything that could be used against me in court. I just planted the seed, so to speak, of my discontent.
The bottom line is I didn’t touch his stinkin’ car. It took a tremendous amount of will power, but his ride remained an undamaged symbol of his masculinity and mid-life crisis.
I guess I hadn’t veered too far from the high road after all. Except I went a little justifiably crazy, but I had enough sense to do it in private and leave no evidence. Thank you very much, law degree.
Still, I would bet good money that the next morning and every morning after that he made a thorough inspection of his “pretty little souped up four-wheel drive” before heading off to work.
Legally, he’d won this battle — at least temporarily. But I couldn’t let him feel so comfortable about it. Not on my couch.
Thanks Carrie Bradshaw. Thanks Carrie Underwood.
Hell, he’s lucky I didn’t go all Stephen King’s Carrie on his behind.
Just Me With . . . A Tale Of Three Carries, and a slip off the high road.
Postscript: I got my court order two months after The Invasion. Later the marital home was sold at my request.
Postscript: I published this post almost ten years ago. Today, as we speak, that same pretty little souped up four-wheel wheel drive is in my driveway. I am not happy.
On Twitter I dubbed it “The New Walk of Shame for The Single Woman — Going Out Alone,” though there’s nothing really shameful about it. It’s just not something that I want to be so . . . obvious, or frequent for that matter. But of course it is what it is.
Still, as I walked out of my house in the ‘burbs, wearing a little black top, jeans and heels on a Saturday evening right before nightfall, I felt the little ick. Perhaps under cover of darkness I would have felt differently. After all, I was just going out. I wasn’t turning tricks or anything. (Ironically, even prostitutes are usually getting into a car with someone. Not me. Solo all the way.) Still, I felt weird, exposed.
In the first place, I hadn’t felt like going out at all. I was exhausted and frankly, tired of going places alone, tired of driving. I also hadn’t been sleeping well and had forgotten to eat — again. See, Confessions of a Skinny Mom. Additionally, I tend to be “melancholy” (sounds so much better than clinically depressed) and it’s hard for me to get out — yet that is exactly what I must do, or so I’m told. Plus, I really hate driving and this was going to be about a thirty minute ride. On the other hand, had I stayed home, well, there may have been tears or chores or nothing special, followed by guilt and anger for the tears, chores or nothing special. See Weekends Off. I would have beaten myself up for not going out on the one of two nights a month when the kids are gone and when this time, coincidentally– luckily, there was actually someplace where I could go — alone. Oh yeah, there was a whole carnival fun house of competing emotions going on my head. So I forced myself to go out. This again is where it is helpful to have people with you. When required to meet someone or when a friend is picking you up, you can’t bail. That little voice that says “just stay home” is naturally squelched. But when going out alone, well, a woman can change her mind at the last minute. A woman’s prerogative. No one would be disappointed, no one would be left waiting, no one would be the wiser. I confess that I have driven myself places, or attempted to drive myself places and gotten lost, not found parking, etc. and ended up turning around and going home without ever having left the car. This has happened, more than once.
On this particular night I got the ick walking to my car. It probably hadn’t helped that I’d just watched the Season Five Sex And The City Episode where Carrie does not have a “Plus One” for her big book release party and admits to loneliness, Charlotte admits to not liking the sound of talking about her divorce and Miranda avoids telling a man she’s become a mother. All three of those hit home for me.
So as I walked to my car to go out, my feeling was somewhat reminiscent of the traditional “Walk of Shame” home that a woman makes in broad daylight, wearing the same clothes from the night before. That look screams: “You had somebody last night, you were doing something all night, but now you’re on your own, and everybody knows it.”
I felt like the walk to my car in daylight and heels screamed: “Single woman, all alone and trying to get some action.” It’s my own paranoia, fueled by the fact that I’ve been known to “people watch,” and I know that if I saw myself going out like that in daylight — alone on a Saturday evening— I’d say,
“I wonder where she’s going?“
I just wanted to get in my car as quickly as possible.
I realize that the fact that I play music gives me a huge advantage for going out alone. Music provides me with night-time activities, like jam sessions, or going out to listen to other musicians I know play, where I can have a really good excuse for being alone, even in bars. This particular event was a jam session/fundraiser for a music studio run by a guy I’d gone to school with many years ago. I’m on his mailing list and get impersonal invitations all the time. I’d never gone before. I’d never really seriously considered going. But this was going to be the night that I would actually go, damn it. I felt obligated — not to him — but to me. It was a timing thing. It was a night I could go, and a place to go.
The studio was at a location I’d never been to, in the part of the city where I’ve gotten lost more than once. But it is a new world now. I wasn’t really traveling alone, not anymore — now I had my new best friend Miss GPS, who right now is a very polite British woman. Let’s call her Emma. Emma tells me when to turn and when to “take the Motorway.” I programmed Emma and she guided my journey. Once I “reached my destination” and parked, I checked in with my Twitter friends, who were giving me the thumbs up for going out alone.
Okay. Lipstick on, glasses off. Valuables (meaning Emma) hidden, car locked. I retrieved the entry code for the security door from my email invitation and was ready to go. Following the prompts, I entered the code on the door.
Unfortunately, the call went directly to voicemail, which was full! Crap. No one was answering to buzz me in.
I tried again, repeatedly. This is when having someone with me might have been helpful. You know, someone to complain to, bounce ideas off of . . . someone to make me not look so stupid. I mean, picture it, a woman alone, dressed for going out, in an iffy neighborhood, standing in front of a building and —– no one is buzzing her in!
Tragic, I tell you. Tragic.
I went back to the safety of my car. Safe, that is, from the public humiliation of being rejected by a security entry door. I was about to tweet about my epic failure of the night and go home, when, out of the corner of my eye I saw that someone had opened the door. It was my Knight in Shining Armor (or, more accurately, some guy in a Lucky Brand Jeans Tee-Shirt)! Yay! Someone had been sent down to let me in! My calls were not unanswered! I was not going to be left alone in my car to do the drive of shame back home. I was going in!
The Lucky Brand guy whom I’d never met showed me upstairs in the not completely renovated warehouse type building, walking me down long narrow hallways of exposed brick. We took the freight elevator up. I wondered for a moment whether I should have told someone where I was going so that if I were to say — go missing — my loved ones would have a general location to give to the police for questioning.
But no worries, I safely entered the studio, full of people who were not scary. I panicked for a split second when I didn’t see the only guy I expected to know. But he was there, and when he saw me, he gave me a hug and said,
“What a nice surprise.”
First part of my mission had been accomplished. I had arrived, alone, albeit slightly overdressed. But I was there. Doing the visual room check it appeared that most people came with someone, of course. Some were couples, some were related, some were friends. While the people were open with introductions, they mostly talked to each other. I immediately joined the jam, avoiding the standing alone awkwardness. When I wasn’t playing I parked myself in an area to watch and listen (and where, by design, I didn’t have to talk). One other good (or bad) thing about music events is that a person can be there and never really have a conversation at all and, more importantly, the lack of conversation is not so obvious. This makes my attendance “minus a Plus One” a little less alone, and it comes as quite a relief to my road dog, Ms. Social Anxiety, who is often with me, even if no one else can see her . . . bwa ha ha ha.
In the end, though, I got out of the house, out of my neighborhood, and stepped out of the box (a different type of music, even played a different instrument for a little while). Plus, I do love music. And it is absolutely true that music brings people together without any talking at all — it breaks down both language and more importantly for me, social barriers, and really, how cool is that?
My English Electronic Friend Emma and I returned home safely — under cover of darkness.
Just Me With . . . no shame after a night out, alone.
And I got hit on . . . Where Did I Put My Fake Boyfriend?