12/29/2007

When Harry Met Sally


Many people have asked Sally and Harry the story of how they (finally) got together. Friends in "the biz" have suggested it would make a great movie. I'll let you judge for yourself :

They seem, at first glance, an unlikely couple. Harry is a Yankee. Sally is a Southerner. Harry is a scientist. Sally is a liberals arts major. Harry is quite the talker, and an extrovert. Sally is more introverted, a reader, a writer; hence this web page. Yet they have many things in common, once one digs a little deeper. Harry lived in White Sands, NM, from 1970-1973. Sally spent her childhood vacationing in Colorado and New Mexico, every summer, and actually visited White Sands in 1973. They both have, shall we say, mothers with strong personalities. They are both catholic (small "c"), spiritual yet in an unconventional way. They agree (mostly) on politics, movies, books, friends, the issue of children, places to live, where to eat, favorite music, pets, and many other important issues, not just limited to a mutual affection for the American southwest, the place, the culture, the art, the food. They agree on many important issues involving family, how to live, how to spend money, how to plan their time and their lives. They bicker incessantly - don't think it's all perfection! That would be nauseatingly cute. But they bicker in the manner of those very old couples you see, who have obviously been bickering together all their lives, and somehow need this form of interaction to survive.

And they have known each other much longer than most people realize.

Like all great Southern Gothic writers, (here I put myself in a class with Faulkner, Welty, Mitchell, Capote, H.Lee), you have to know where one's family came from, to truly understand the current generation.

Harry grew up an army brat, born in Germany, lived all over Europe and the USA. His parents' families, of Irish /Polish /German stock, were recent immigrants (early 1900's) , smart and plucky, who figured out that the best way to move up in American society was to take the exam, get into West Point, and make being an army officer their career of choice. And that is exactly what both his grandfathers and his father did. They moved all over, but kept returning to the Wash, DC mid-Atlantic area as a sort of home base. Brief stint by one grandfather as a US Congressman from Connecticut . (It needs to be noted here that Harry's mom spent her formative years as the daughter of the military governor of Hiroshima, after WWII ; thus a sense of privilege and rank were bred into her and her descendants from an early age.) Harry went to high school in the northern Va suburban Wash DC area. As a teenager, his nickname could have been "rebel without a cause", and he decided to buck the family military tradition and attend Rice University in Houston, Tx.

Sally grew up in Dallas , Tx. Her father was a German immigrant Kansas farm boy who went to UT, and later, SMU law school. He worked initially as an engineer at TI and later as an attorney. Her mother was an east Texas small town blue blood . It must be noted here that her mother's family, mostly of British heritage with a little French and Cherokee thrown in for spice, has lived in America (and the South) in an unbroken line since 1605. That makes Sally DAR, DOC, DRT, OES, CD and OMC. (If you don't know what any of those letters mean, more is the pity for you.) Her mama's family owned the original sulphur springs in the town by the same name. Her mama's daddy also owned his own factory, which manufactured church furniture (pews, baptismal fonts, lecterns, etc) and made quite a profitable living, even during the Great Depression, selling furniture to all the small town churches in east Texas. No matter how bleak small town life in America might have been in the 1930's and 1940's , about the only thing you can count on is that the Baptists felt they had to outdo the Methodists, and vice-versa, when it came to church interior decor. Dorothea Lange may have photographed the Dust Bowl as a grim place for small town farmers in Oklahoma, but folks in east Texas and the South in general managed somehow to pony up what cash they had "for the glory of the Lord" and the churches they built. Any man who owned a business that made church furniture did not suffer. This business provided the kind of lifestyle for Sally's mother that included train trips into Dallas for a day of shopping at Neiman-Marcus as a quite ordinary event. Sally's mom went to Baylor and later UT for grad school - bucking the 50's trend of early marriage, to pursue a useless but enjoyable grad degree in French literature. It was probably with a sigh of relief from her parents that she finally married at the spinsterish age of 27 , moved to Richardson, Tx, and lived a more conventional suburban nuclear family lifestyle.

Like all true Southern Gothic stories, there must be an element of madness and decay. And so it is with Sally's family. By her teen-aged years, Sally's attorney father began his descent into schizophrenia. His increasingly strange behavior eventually resulted in his losing his job. The family barely had enough money to pay the mortgage, much less keep food on the table. Their home began to fall apart; there was no money to maintain it. Sally's mother, who had a been a home-maker all those years, was compelled to take on a job as a legal secretary, to try and keep a roof over their heads. Sally's grandmother (the grandfather had passed away years before, ending the church furniture making business, but he had invested well and his legacy continued on for future generations) , helped out financially now and then, with special projects, but not on a daily basis.

Sally, too, started to work as soon as she was old enough, holding a series of typical teenager dead-end retail jobs, paying for most of her own expenses - food, clothing, books, gas. She entered her "super girl" phase -maintaining straight A's in high school, president of numerous clubs, working 20's hours at Jack in the Crack or Sears , driving her little sister around to French horn lessons, keeping the house cleaned and running, doing all the cooking, etc. She somehow managed to get an SAT score that got her into MENSA (not that she would ever actually join, b/c only loser insecure freaks with nothing better to do with their lives would ever actually join that geek squad.) Because she was cute, she also maintained a frantic Zelda Fitzgerald type "Southern belle" social life, full of numerous boyfriends. (At her peak, she once counted 36 beaus among her admirers - simultaneously.)

One of Sally's many beaus, aka Greaser, had gone off to college at Rice University in Houston, a year ahead of Sally. During Sally's senior year in high school, Greaser came home one weekend with some of his friends. Sally and several of her gf's spent the weekend out socializing with these boys. One of these boys was Harry, now known to his college buddies as "Bluto".

Gerald O'Hara may have told Scarlet that "land is the only thing that matters", but our Sally felt instead that probably a degree from the best university she could get into was her ticket to a brighter future. She applied to Yale, UT Austin Plan II (honors program) and Rice, and got into all 3. Because her parents chose the moment of her high school graduation to undergo a divorce, there was even less money available than previously. Sally thought Yale might be a stretch, financially . Rice, back in the day, cost about the same as UT - plus the campus was prettier, the dorms nicer, Sally had lots of friends from high school who went to both, and she kinda liked Greaser's friends, people like "Bluto", they were sweet . So she figured, "what the hell ?" and chose Rice.

So off to the same college each of the characters in this story went.

Harry, out from under the thumb of his strong-willed mother, began his full throttle rebellion. He dabbled in what we shall call " the counter culture"; this was the 70's, after all . As a consequence, his grades began to suffer somewhat. Sally drove off to college without her parents but with her best gf , instead, and her car trunk full of dresses, shoes, and cases of beer - a gift from one of her beaus.

Harry and Sally became friends, and Sally discovered that she could veer past Harry's dorm room, each day at the same time after her p.e. class, and there he would be, sitting outside in the sunshine with his friends, engaging in what we shall continue to refer to as "the counter culture". Sometimes Sally joined in, and sometimes she did not. Harry introduced Sally to many new things, only one of which was the music of Bruce Springsteen, of whom Sally became a lifelong fan. She came up with lots of excuses to pop over to his room all the time, to see Harry, to learn about all kinds of new things. She thought Harry was very cute, and one of the most charming, interesting, polite, lovable guys she had ever known. His buddies were also kind and friendly. But Harry was so involved in his "counter culture" activities, he only vaguely noticed that Sally was hanging around a lot. Harry was in a daze.

Sally also continued dating around in her southern belle Zelda Fitzgerald style. No reason to change patterns just yet. It took her awhile to find her way, academically, and her friendship with Harry was not conducive to making good grades. After her first disastrous semester in college, Sally realized she had to really buckle down and study. That meant abandoning any previous destructive habits. That meant no longer hanging about with Harry and his friends, no matter how nice they were, engaging in self-destructive "counter-cultural" activities.

Harry, it turned out, had partied a little too much. He was already on his "second" freshman year by the time Sally arrived, due to his "counter-cultural" hobbies. His parents grew impatient for him to end this silly self-destructive rebelliousness, and forced him to leave college and move home for a semester to work a heinous front desk job at Holiday Inn, wearing a gold polyester blazer, answering phones and the strange demands of various cranky customers, all to give him time to "think about" what he actually wanted out of life. Did he want to end up at the local Jr college, working at the Holiday Inn and wearing a gold polyester blazer all his life ? Or did he want to do the work required to continue at his prestigious university, and get back on course in his proposed career of science ?

So Harry left Sally, moved back to Va, and this was the beginning of the diverging of their paths.

Sally shifted from her southern belle party girl lifestyle and into one of serial monogamy, so she could hunker down and study more. Harry was gone . Her first serious boyfriend in this new mode was a fellow her friends called "Horse", who was kind of cute when you cleaned him up (he dressed like a grunge rocker long before such a thing was cool) and he had fantastical "talents". He was an engineering student, from a wealthy Chicago area family, recently moved to Houston. He and Sally spent a lot of time exploring Horse's "talents", in every conceivable way. Doesn't everyone read the Kama Sutra in college ? Unfortunately, he was also an alcoholic - had several DWI's - and a bit of a womanizer. His friends treated Sally badly, too, and quite without consciously acknowledging it, she always wondered, why? Maybe it was something wrong with her. Harry's friends had always been so kind to her ....why were Horse's friends different ? Is it fair to judge one by the company one keeps ? Perhaps they picked up subtle clues as regards Sally, from Horse. She never fully realized it, but all her life, Sally held up her relationship with Harry as a standard, and men she knew either met it, or they didn't. In her youth and naivete , Sally thought maybe Horse could be "twoo luv", if she just tried harder.....Sally tried to overlook the drinking, but the lying and womanizing just would not go away. Horse's lies got sloppier and sloppier, b/c he just didn't care, and more and more of his friends kept feeling duty bound to come point them out to Sally . So humiliating. Sally also watched Horse's dad, who was 30 years older, still handsome and charming just like "Horse" - and still actively engaged in drinking and the womanizing. She could see her future and it was not good. Yet "Horse" had some good qualities, for example : b/c he knew Sally cherished foreign movies, he got a job at a theater that only showed foreign films, so he could take Sally to see all the free movies she wanted. It was rather endearing. Because he was so "talented", Sally kept Horse around as a "friend with benefits" for as long as she could, off and on for 5 years. She loved Horse and kept hoping she could make this relationship work, but in the end, just couldn't. The basic problems - the drinking and the cheatin', just never went away. To this day, Sally can't stand the smell of rum, b/c it reminds her of "Horse" and his drunken rum breath. Towards the end, she never got to enjoy Horse's "talents", either..... he just babysat her dog when she went out of town. So sad, all that lovely "talent"....wasted. But I digress.

Sally's next bead in the serial monogamy chain was a boy we shall call "Latin Boy". Sally had actually met "Latin Boy " when she was back in high school, although they grew up in opposite parts of Texas - she from Dallas, he from Baytown. Once at a state wide Latin club convention, "Latin Boy" wowed thousands of impressionable teenagers by memorizing a textbook of Latin grammar in 10 minutes and winning a competition as a result. He was sort of a "rock star" of the nerdy smart teens Sally spent her high school years hanging out with. Even though she had known of him from this previous environment, they met for the first time in college, through mutual friends, and embarked on what Sally thought of as the happiest period of her college life. From "Latin Boy", Sally learned how to study first, party later. She enjoyed the competition between the two of them in their mutual history classes, and she actually bested him once in awhile. He was funny and smart and romantic and sweet . He treated her the way Harry had, with kindness and love.They had rollicking fun together, dancing at a local smokey collegiate beer bar named Valhalla, and to this day when Sally hears any music by the Rolling Stones, she thinks of him. From LB, Sally learned the skills of how to drive a stick shift and how to peel and eat boiled shrimp, which are useful things to know for the rest of one's life. Their romance culminated in their running off to Europe together one summer, riding motorcycles , sailing the Mediterranean, and working on an archaeological dig . (See "The Real Indiana Jones" in this blog.) Sadly, Sally and Latin Boy had issues, which meant that long term, they could not be together. Sally still thinks fondly of him, to this day, wishes him well, and that's all she will say about it.

Sally next dated a young man her friends called "Chimp", although he was handsome in a preppy sort of way and looked nothing at all like his moniker. From a conservative Southern family in Memphis, Tennessee, Sally and Chimp met while working on the campus yearbook staff - she was the business manager and he was the head photographer. Long nights in the office, developing film, laying out pages, business trips out of town on an expense account to the the publisher's head office......the romance just sizzled! Extremely bright, but also confused, Chimp was going through his own rebellious phase, and having a crisis of religion to boot, and his parents pulled him home to sort it all out, much as Harry's parents had done. His lasting contribution to Sally's life was converting her to the Episcopal faith (Sally had been raised Presbyterian, although her mother was a Baptist turned Methodist, and her father a Lutheran. Who can explain it?).

During this time, Harry had returned to Rice, and dated a series of lovely girls, most of them Jewish. Although he was quite fond of some of them, and they were well suited to one another in many ways, they could never overcome the fact that their religions got in the way . Harry, being the good Irish/Polish child that he was, was Catholic . And neither he nor his girlfriends could imagine themselves living a "Bridget Loves Bernie" sort of life.

Harry and Sally remained friends throughout college in the loose meaning of the word, but their social circles never really over-lapped again.There was one pivotal moment in the spring of their senior year, (Harry's academic life now straightened out, he was planning to graduate the same year as Sally), only a few weeks from graduation , when they ran into each other one day outside the campus library. They said the usual " hi, how are ya ", stopped a moment to chat, catch up on each others graduation plans. The 5 minute conversation turned into a 3 hour conversation, in the gathering dusk, each hesitant to let the moment go. They talked about their hopes and dreams, their plans for the future, their lives . Each secretly thought, " I really like him/her, we have a lot in common, where has he/she been all my life ? " But soon the dinner bell rang and each had to leave ... reluctantly. They went their separate ways, graduated, moved on, and that was it.

Harry moved back east, eventually settled at Penn State, pursuing a PHD in engineering. Sally heard, through the grapevine, that he was there at the same time as one of her gfs, and she kept trying to set them up. But they were of vastly different personalities, and in spite of Sally's assurances that Harry was really a great guy at heart, her friend and he never connected. Harry went through a series of girlfriends during this phase of his life, but none of them were as pretty, smart and funny as Sally.

Sally stayed in Houston, got a grown-up professional job as a marketing manager for a national consumer goods firm, and dated lots of guys. Such as "Tex" - tall, blond, a handsome geologist, drove a Jeep, was a great kisser; and "Preppy" - an Ivy Leaguer, an architect, drove a Volvo and loved to ice skate, and eventually met future husband # 1, "California Boy". He was darkly handsome in a Mediterranean sort of way and was funny, a good dancer, and in grad school getting his MBA. What's not to like about that ? He was part of Sally's post-college social group, professional working yuppies who would go clubbing on the weekends. Years passed, the large group of friends started pairing up and settling down.

All the MBA -ers graduated, including "California Boy", and decided to spend a summer in Europe together travelling about, before starting their corporate jobs in the fall. Sally quit her own job, planning to go to grad school in the fall and complete her PHD, and joined them. She had just come into her family inheritance, and thought that some of it it would be well spent on this trip and putting herself through grad school, saving the bulk of it to buy a house, later.

Off to Greece Sally went with "California boy " and his friends. They had a great time, a romantic trip. Sally footed most of the bill for "CB", but she thought they were definitely "twoo luv", so it was worth it. His salary potential would even out this expenditure, which was considerable, over time. They came back to Houston, he started to work, Sally started classes in grad school. They got married. Sally paid for the wedding.

A few years passed, and the marriage began having problems. "California Boy" spent the rest of Sally's inheritance paying off his student loans, without telling her this was his plan - he just signed huge checks off their joint account without telling her. It turned out he had almost a hundred thousand dollars worth of student loans that Sally hadn't known about. ("California Boy" had pulled himself up by his bootstraps, coming from a blue collar working class family. His dad was a repairman and his mom, a maid.) Sally didn't discover what he had done till a check bounced from their joint account , b/c he'd spent all the money. Tens of thousands of dollars. When confronted with this act, he cried and promised he'd pay Sally back, "someday, when they had more money". Sally kept plugging along with her plans re grad school, in spite of the fact that "California Boy" kept throwing up roadblocks....he claimed there was not enough money, she must get a job, he had to move around the country for his job, she needed to quit her studies and earn more money, get a better job, they could not afford to pay tuition for her to go to school, she must do this, must not do that. Sally took on two jobs, then three, all the while taking classes, trying to meet CB's demands while sticking to her plan. It became clear that he had no intention of allowing Sally to complete graduate school, which had been part of their bargain. After all, she had supported him financially while he was in grad school getting his MBA. Sally eventually stopped going to school after she got her MA , (gave up on the whole PHD part, as not economically feasible), while working full time and supporting both of them 100%. She paid their rent, utilitites, food....sometimes CB contributed towards this, but often he did not. It was unclear what CB was doing, they lived at times like roommates. He bought himself a series of cars, each of which he soon wrecked, but did not help Sally support herself in any way. He was often out till all hours, but Sally was studying and working all those jobs and barely noticed. At one point, he moved out of town for 6 months, in the middle of the semester and without warning, leaving Sally behind, with no way to support herself financially. She got a female roommate to help pay the bills.
*
"CB" and Sally's relationship turned into one of those "can't see the forest for the trees" situations, where Sally was blind to the fact that she wanted a baby and a home but he did not, her mother had loaned them ever increasing amounts of money to buy a house which never got bought, (yet "CB" came home mysteriously one day with a brand new, very expensive car - and the hefty downpayment for a house Sally's mom had just given them mysteriously "disappeared".) "California Boy" kept changing jobs b/c at each and every company he ever worked for, "his boss was out to get him".
*
"CB" was also growing gradually but increasingly abusive. It started as emotional and financial abuse, and gradually turned into psychological and physical abuse. Withholding money, demanding control of finances, the phone, the mail, the cars. Killing one of Sally's cats. Denying Sally the ability to talk to anyone - her family and friends on the phone. Every thing Sally wanted to do was denied, under the excuse "it costs too much money", yet they both had good paying jobs. There was always enough money for what "CB" wanted , whether it was an expensive new car, or a stereo, a trip, a set of golf clubs. Yet never any money available for what Sally wanted - have a child, a home, to go to grad school. "CB" told everyone he knew that Sally was a shop-a-holic, in spite of the fact that Sally owned nothing but what she had owned before they were married, (old clothes and books). Everything she owned, Sally had payed for, herself. Most of the money CB was spending on luxury goods came from Sally's family inheritance. Irony there......
*
Sally worked a series of progressively menial jobs just to survive their continual moving around the country ( due to "CB" 's constant need to find another job. He was always getting fired.) It's hard to have to quite one's job, move to another state, and start all over with one's career....every 6 months. Sally was the "trailing spouse.", and her career took a series of hits as the two of them moved from Houston, to California, to Houston, then New York, then Conroe -as CB kept changing jobs. Sally was also at this time giving him huge sums of money from her family, b/c each place they moved, they started to buy a ahouse and needed a down payment . But the house never got bought - there was always some reason. And the down payment never got "refunded". It just disappeared. Now where do you think it went ? All the while, CB contributed nothing to their basic household funds for food, utilities, etc. They lived in a series of ratty rent houses and apartments of ever diminishing size and quality . They owned garage sale furniture. Sally drove a beater car she had paid for herself. (At one point, CB and Sally went to a friend's wedding in a rough part of town. CB forced Sally to drive them there in her car, least anything happen to his expensive sports car. When Sally's car was vandalized during the wedding, CB refused to repair the damages. So typical of the way he treated her, with total disregard. ) Yet CB had an MBA, worked as an oil company executive. Where was all his salary going ? Sally didn't try to figure it out - she was too busy working 2 jobs, taking classes, struggling to survive, to see that "CB" , after having paid off his massive student loans, was putting most of his salary up his nose with his best friend, "Joe", and sending some funds home to support his parents in their old age. This was the 80's, after all.
*
Things came to a head one night, when, on the eve of "CB's" 2nd move across the country in 6 months - this time back to Houston, to change jobs yet again- Sally found herself pregnant. "CB" was furious - wanted Sally to get an abortion, said "they couldn't afford a baby right now". Sally, who had wanted a child for years, had undergone multiple corrective surgeries for various infertility problems, refused. The violence from "CB" escalated. CB began pushing and shoving Sally around, screaming at her for this and that, demanding ever increasing amounts of money from her ( family) for various things......until one night he became infuriated that Sally had spent the $40 he'd given her (supposed to be enough for a whole week's groceries AND pick up his dry cleaning), and yet there wasn't enough food in the house (and he had no laundered shirts). "California Boy" chased Sally through the crappy apartment they now inhabited. She locked herself in the bathroom, till in a fury he punched his fist through the door to get at her. He grabbed at her wildly, grabbing her hair and pushing her down . They struggled. Somehow, she managed to poke him in they eyes, box his ears, ( self defense moves she had learned in college) , as he was hitting her and trying to pull her down to the ground, and ran out of the apt.
Her dog and the cat, who knew all sanity was fleeing with her from that home, ran out the door with her. Sally got in her car, with the pets, and drove and drove, trying to figure out what to do. It was pouring down rain. She pulled over at an all-night truck stop, ate dinner, and inspected the contents of her wallet - 23c and a gas card. She tried to withdraw some money from an ATM - access denied. She put the dinner on the gas card, fueled up, and drove home to Dallas, thinking she'd talk it over with her family and friends and figure out what to do next.

The very next day, "California Boy" filed for divorce. His wife Sally was 4 months pregnant. He shut down or froze all their banking accounts, (he told Sally in a later phone call that he "couldn't tell her why 1000's of dollars were missing, b/c she would get upset if he told her the truth"), and alleged in the divorce decree that his wife was insane, that she had in fact been the one who abused him, that she was an unfit mother because she was a shop-a-holic, and therefore he demanded full custody of their as yet unborn child.

It took Sally two miserable years and tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees (more family money wasted on that man) to finalize the divorce. "California Boy" stalled and stalled, filing one ridiculous motion after another, (demanding psychological testing of Sally, refusing it on himself, claiming that Sally had left him with nothing but "2 used old towels" of their matrimonial estate, dragging the "discovery " phase on for months, scheduling depositions then cancelling them, etc - anything to run up the legal fees and keep the control going), unwilling to give up the last remnants of power he had over Sally's life. He stalked Sally, from 250 miles away, grabbing her one day in the parking lot as she came out of a dr's office visit - till she got a restraining order to keep him away.
*
Sally made it through this darkest period of her life with the support and love and daily phone therapy sessions from her very best friends : Vincent, (who hates to be called that, but we can't help it, for it is his name, after all ) her oldest continuous male friend in the world and now her adopted brother figure, ( he gets his own story, someday), and "Spuddie", one the childhood gf's who had been at Penn State with Harry all those years ago. These two friends loaned Sally money when she needed it, talked her through those long dark nights of the soul, and never stopped believing in her. To this day she loves them and wants them to know she will always be there for them, please let her return the favor, if needed.

Sally knew, somehow, that no matter how much of a failure her life had been, up to this point, if she could ever get free of the tick that "CB" had been on the ass of her life, she'd be free to start living again, and might find happiness, someday. She got a job, took care of her baby, and was trying to start her life all over, having been bled dry financially and emotionally wrung out by the ripe old age of 33.

The ink was no sooner fresh on Sally's divorce decree than it was suddenly time for her Rice 10th college reunion. Feeling a miserable failure, newly divorced and a single parent with a baby to boot, Sally decided not to go. All her college gf's tried to talk her into it, to no avail. So one of them, without Sally's knowing it, went to the reunion , and took along a recent picture of Sally and her baby. This gf went around to every guy, gay or straight, married or single, at the reunion, showing the photos and saying, "Did you know that Sally is divorced now ? This is a picture of her and her kid."One of those guys was Harry.

Harry had just graduated with his PHD in engineering. He 'd gotten a grown-up job, bought a house, bought a dog. His life was great, except that his love life wasn't going so well. He hadn't found THE ONE.

Harry got Sally's phone number from the gf at the reunion, put it away in his pocket. Came home, went on a date that wasn't great, waited two weeks, then called Sally up. They started talking - he was living in Washington DC, she was in Plano ( suburb of Dallas). They picked up where they left off, all those years before, that day they had stood outside the campus library and talked for hours. Got married just 6 months later, to the anger and fear of Sally's mother ( god knows she'd been through the wringer, too; helping Sally through her divorce was like reliving her own divorce, 10 years prior). But...... "true love is knowing that when you've found the person you want to annoy for the rest of your life, you want the rest of your life to begin as soon as possible".

And Sally and Harry have been married ever since.
They live in a comfortable pleasant large rambling house in a college town where Harry works as a science professor and Sally as a teacher. They have two wonderful sons (one of them Sally's from husband # 1), lots of dogs and cats, and good friends with whom they share a glass of wine and a good yarn from time to time. Living well is the best revenge.
* * * * * * * * *
Post Script
It has now been many years.......Sally and Harry continue their charmingly frazzled, fun but slightly shabby college professor lifestyle. Sally's ex, CB, is on divorce number two, from his second wife, a lady lawyer. In the early years of his marraige to the lady lawyer, he used the lawyer-wife to threaten Sally with lawsuits, more custody battles over their son, whenever he didn't get his way or felt cranky (once, for example, b/c he didn't like the way Sally had written their son's name inside his winter coat) . CB continues in his lifelong pattern of changing jobs every few years, being perpetually late with his child support payments, and sees his son only about two or three weekends a year. He staunchly refuses to provide anything more than the bare minimum the law decrees for his only son, and refuses to pay for college, buy clothes or reimburse Sally for medical bills, buy the kid, now a teen, a car, or anything like that. He himself drives a car that cost more than Sally's house. He has a second child from the lady lawyer, a daughter, and lives alone in a giant ugly million dollar house that has no furniture , only large dark statues that leer at you from nooks under the stairs. A gf of Sally's who lives down the street says she sees him, often alone on weekend nights, playing on his computer, all by himself. That is how he likes to live his life. Sally almost feels sorry for him - almost.

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