Divorce in America

Maggie and I had been married for three years when the word “divorce” first came up. There we sat on our screened-in back porch, gazing out at the soft summer rain, sipping glasses of iced tea, day dreaming as if we had forever.

Then Maggie turned to me. “Jack and Anise are getting a divorce. Anise says it’s for the kids.”

I looked over at her. “For the kids? Nobody gets a divorce for the kids.”

“That’s what I said. But she insisted.” She went back to studying the lawn. “You think we should plant a rose bush over there.” She pointed to the back corner.

“It’s okay with me. Remember you are the gardener. I have the black thumb.” I gave it some thought. Maybe roses would look good at the edge of the yard. “What kind of roses?”

“Oh, I don’t know.”

“I would have liked to be a fly on the wall when they told the kids. ‘We’re getting the divorce because of you kids.’ Bet that was one heck of a conversation.”

Maggie reached over to the pitcher on the table between us and poured herself another glass of iced tea. “She said the kids had pretty much figured it out. They were troopers about the whole thing.”

I swirled the ice in my glass with my finger. The cold felt good. “I thought they were the perfect couple. Who’ll be next? The pastor and his wife?”

“Naw,” she said. “It would mean his job.”

“As if that would be a bad thing. His sermons are so boring that the devil wouldn’t have a hard time recruiting our congregation Sunday mornings. Anything to get out of that sanctuary.”

She giggled, then said, “You’ve got that right. Why do we keep him?”

“Nobody wants to hurt his feelings.”

“If she’d only have an affair. She’s the type you know.”

My interest perked up. “What do you mean? She’s such a tight ass.”

“The ones you least expect, you know.”

“Are you saying?” I couldn’t imagine this. Helen, the preacher’s wife? Who’d have the gall to sleep with her anyway?

“I’m just saying.” She laughed. There were times I wasn’t sure if Maggie was joking or serious. This was one of those times.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I don’t know for sure. I have my suspicions though. Just call it woman’s intuition.” That closed that subject. She brings up woman’s intuition and I knew that was it.

“So when’s the big day?” I asked.

“The big day?”

“When is Jack moving out?”

“As soon as the kids go off to college this fall. He’ll be there when they leave. When they come home, he’ll be gone. He’ll be coming over for Thanksgiving and Christmas. They’ll be one big happy family for the holidays.”

I shook my head. “That sounds nice and cozy. How long they been married? Twenty-three years and now they’re getting a divorce. And for the kids too. Did she say what she meant by that?’

“No,” she said, then leaned over and kissed my lips lightly. She had tears in her eyes.

I offered her my lap, then I held her, trying to fend off the fear I knew she was feeling. She said softly, “It’s Mom and Dad all over again. We kids go off to college and they get their freedom. Only it’s freedom from each other.” There was unforgiveness in her voice.

I didn’t say anything. There was nothing to say. I remembered the arguments between my parents. All the yelling, and they stayed together for us kids. At least, that’s what Mom told me at Dad’s funeral.

Maggie squeezed my arm and drew it closer around her. There we were, Maggie and I, sitting on the back porch of our new house and talking about divorce. Hoping it wouldn’t happen to us.

The National Holiday We Ignore

September 17th is one of the national holidays we choose to ignore. It’s Constitution Day. It’s the day Congress has set aside to honor the United States Constitution and commemorate its signing on September 17, 1787 by the delegates of the Constitutional Convention.

We all know about the Declaration of Independence when our founding fathers proclaimed that we had the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We all know about Abraham Lincoln, in his Gettysburg Address, reminding Americans that we have a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

The United States Constitution is the document that guarantees our rights and answers the question: What kind of government is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people? The Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land.

And despite everything we might think, it’s pretty easy reading. It’s only 7591 words long which means it can be read in an  hour.

Just to get you started, here’s the Preamble:

 

And though we haven’t always lived up to those words as a country, they still inspire us to be better.

I have learned two things about the Constitution. As we have added Amendments to those original words, we have asked the Constitution to do two things:
1.Limit the power of Government, and
2.Expand the Rights of Americans.

When we lose sight of those two things, we have go astray. Consider the 18th Amendment. It was the Prohibition Amendment that banned the sale of alcohol. in 1933, we had to admit “Ooops, We made a boo-boo” and ratified the 21st Amendment which meant the 18th Amendment was no longer law.

Today is the 234th anniversary of the signing of our Constitution. Maybe as a birthday present to the Constitution, we might read it. I know I will.

And if you’re looking for some helpful reading on the Constitution, here’s three excellent books:

The U.S. Constitution and Other Important American Documents (No Fear) by SparkNotes (A modern reading of the Constitution)
The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution by Linda R. Monk
The Bill of Rights: A User’s Guide by Linda R. Monk

Let me sing the praises…

of a root beer float. After a long hard day of this and that and the other, what a better way to relax than go into the kitchen, dump several scoops of vanilla ice cream into a glass and pour some root beer over it. Then go into the living room, sit in the big arm chair, put my feet up on the foot stool, click on the TV and the blu ray and watch a movie. The cat crawls up on my lap and lays there quietly. Now that’s living.

of cornbread. I got to tell you this is the food of the gods. When I die and meet St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, he’s going to have a big plate of cornbread waiting for me. If I am to be let in, that is.

One of the fondest memories of my childhood was this. I would spend my summers staying at a farm owned by some friends of my mother. These folks had fourteen kids. So another mouth to feed was no big deal. The big meal of the day was a midday dinner. In the evening we kids had leftover cornbread.

We would heat up a piece of that cornbread and slop some butter on it. We were in hog heaven. Either that or crumble up the cornbread in a glass of cold milk. I am telling you that there is nothing like it. Man, my mouth waters just thinking about that cornbread melting in my mouth.

Is there a food that brings back childhood memories to you?

The Perfect Diet

Have I got a diet for you. It’s guaranteed. A real weight loser if ever there was one. There are just two ingredients and it’s not an expensive diet. I am talking the Bread and Water diet. And not just any bread and water. Make sure you get the newly branded Prison Bread and Water. It will be the ones stamped with San Quentin’s Seal of Approval.

If you are one of those who need help sticking to a diet, we have a very special program for you. It’s a new fangled spa called the Joint and this joint ain’t the kind you smoke. To help raise some badly needed cash, the government has agreed to rent out its prisons as spas. Don’t worry about the prisoners. They are all being paroled.

When you arrive there, you’ll be strip searched. It’s for your protection. It’s to make sure that you are not sneaking food in. If you do get it in, you might be attacked by some of the other inmates when they decide they don’t want to stay on diet.

This new prison system of diet farms is guaranteed to cut the recidivism rate on dieting down to 10%. Recidivism? you ask. Yes, that is those people who go back to their old ways. The Joint uses a new psychological re-education program. It’s called the taser. If you even think about going off your diet while in The Joint, you are tasered.

The great thing about this new system is that the program offers something for everyone. There will be four different rates. For the $100 a week rate, you get to share a cell with a fellow inmate. It allows you to motivate each other. For this rate, you get to join your fellow inmates on the Chain Gang. It’s one heck of an exercise program.

For the self-motivated, there is the $200 a week rate. This pays for a cell all by yourself. Also you get to participate in the many in-house work programs, like the laundry, the kitchen or the warden’s office.

And then there is the solitary confinement rate. It is $500 a week. This allows you to spend your time alone and not having to associate with the riff raff. You’ll get your meals served by a gourmet chef whose recipes for Bread and Water are mouth-watering. On top of that, you get to exercise in the yard all by your lonesome.

Finally there is the Death Row program. For $1000, you will have your own special cell on Death Row. You will be visited by a chaplain. You’ll get a last meal of your choice. Then you’ll be led to the electric chair, where a special executioner will zap those pounds right off you. Some previous participates of this program have lost up to 100 pounds in just one sitting.

Now I can hear some of you with your doubts. This program will never work. It’s worked for years for the Russians. It is called the Siberian Rejuvenation Program, better known as the Gulag. Remember the word “Gulag” is Russian for weight loss.

So hurry. Be the first one on your block to sign up. Already we have over 1000 enrollees scheduled to begin the program the first of next month. The program can only accommodate one and a half million inmates.

Do Socks Get a Divorce?

Inquiring minds want to know. Or at least this inquiring mind. I have a perfectly nice pair of socks. They look good. They feel good on my feet. There isn’t a soldier who wouldn’t like this pair of socks.

The pair would make a great companion for the long march ahead. After all, there are those in the know who say a battle is lost or won by the socks on a soldier’s footsies. Napoleon learned this the hard way. That was what defeated him in Russia. Not that he got cold feet, but that his soldiers had cold feet. They had holey socks.

You can see why this pair of socks I have brings me such comfort. Not only do they make me feel like I am walking on air, they make my feet smell good too. That’s no easy feet. I mean feat.

Last weekend I did laundry. Separated the lights from the darks. The whites from the lights. Put them into separate piles. ‘Fore you know it, my washing machine is going chug-chug-chug. Then my dryer is whirring away with my load of laundry. I open the dryer door, pull out the load, throw them into the basket, take them into the bedroom for sorting and folding.

At the end, there is only one sock left from the pair of those best socks. You know, the comfortable pair. The pair that look good. The pair that made my feet smell nice. Real nice.

I am frantic. Where’s the other sock? I hurry out to the laundry room, open the dryer door and hope against hope. No, it’s not there. I look in the washing machine. The sock isn’t there either. I trace my trail back to the bedroom where I once sorted. No sock.

So I give the sock remaining the inquisition. How did you do it? Did you poison your partner? Did you strangle her, then bury her among the lint? Then it hit me. Maybe it was a Sock Rapture. Maybe the Sock Jesus returned and claimed all the good socks. Yes, that had to be it. The reason for the disappearance. It could happen. Not.

If the Sock Jesus came and took all the good socks, why was this one sock the only one who disappeared. Were there no other good socks in the load? Was my sock drawer a regular Sodom and Gomorrah? I don’t think so.

No, it was looking more and more likely that something had come between the pair of socks. Maybe they had a fight and the female of the pair went home to mother.

They were such a handsome couple. Let’s call them Fred and Wilma. They seemed so happy. Deep down Wilma resented her lot in life. She deserved a sock much better than Fred. She was locked into a marriage she had come to despise, forced to stay home and clean house, babysit Pebbles and cook Fred’s Neanderthal dinners. When she wanted to go vegetarian, all Fred could spout out was “Meat. I want meat.” Then there was the Dino problem. He was the family’s pet dinosaur. Have you ever tried cleaning up dinosaur poop? As John Lennon once sang, “Christ, you know it ain’t easy.”

You get the point. Wilma Sock was deeply unhappy. She was a fine wine and caviar kind of girl and Fred was all pretzels and beer.

Then a day later, quite by accident, I discovered another sock missing. You know, those socks the tennis pros wear. This was a sock like that. Let’s call him Fabio.

After much investigation, I got to the root of the problem. Wilma found herself in the washing machine with Fabio. He was whiter than white and he was very unhappy with his partner. Her name was Betty. She had stains all over her. He wondered what had happened. When they were first dating, she kept herself spotlessly pure white. Then they married and she let herself go. She just didn’t seem to care anymore. When Fabio Sock saw an unhappy Wilma, he was smitten. She was something, taking pride in her appearance.

Fabio sang “Sock it to me” to Wilma’s, “Sock it to me.” Before Fred knew what had happened, Wilma ran off with Fabio to Sock Vegas. The couple got quickie divorces and remarried in twenty-four hours. It was like the dish running away with the spoon. As everybody knew, Fabio was a real stud and Wilma was a real dish, a very Socksy Lady.

Unfortunately there was no happily ever after for Fabio and Wilma. Wilma has triplets on the way and Fabio is laid up with tennis elbow. His pro career is over and he can’t even find a job in a pro shop at a country club.

In the meantime, Betty realized she needed some whitener. In the next wash, she had an extra dose of bleach. It worked. She was back to a perfect white. Fred and Betty met at a Speed Dating for Singles of the Socks Set get-together. They hooked up. Next thing you know Betty is a perfect housekeeper, loves to cook only meat, and is helping Pebbles, as a Girl Scout Daisy, earn her Golden Honey Bee Award. Fred got a new promotion. Mr. Slate retired and Fred is now General Manager of the Slate Rock and Gravel Company.

Oh, and one final thing. Fred and Betty have new neighbors in the drawer. Right next to them is what seems like a nice couple. Names are Barney and Wilma.