I see her number come up on my cell phone screen for the third time in as many weeks, and, once again, I don't pick up. Can't pick up.
I hit the "Decline" button.
When I see the "New Voice Message" symbol come up, I almost roll my eyes. But then I remember that she's got every right to leave a message--we are supposed to be friends.
I dial into my voicemail and hear: "Hey,it's m--." That's enough. All I can stand. Delete.
There. I'm done.
'Til she calls again.
I do this because I hate her husband.
Watching her during the course of this relationship has been akin to watching Jennifer Love-Hewitt in a Wes Craven movie, just as she begins to descend the creepy basement stairs.
In the beginning I am optimistic. Then I remember that the movie's title is: Chainsaw Axe-Murdering Basement Dwellers Part 4: Thirst For Boob
Similarly, when it comes to relationships, I am an optimist and a romantic. So when I first met my friend's husband-to-be, I didn't like him, but I squashed the feeling. (I'm a big-believer in the idea that, unless you're in
the relationship, you can't really know what it's about.) I told myself: Maybe I just don't know him well enough. Maybe he's different when they're alone together.Great! Relief!
I sat back and tried to feel better.
And then all my worst suspicions were confirmed. I got a call two days before the wedding from my hysterical friend; another woman had answered her fiance's phone--the phone in his bedroom--at 3 AM.
Two days later, she married him anyway, taking yet another, foolhardy step down the dark basement stairs.
Since their wedding, every time I see her, she' tells me their latest ridiculous story. And--right or wrong--for months, I "Maybe-ed...". I tried to believe. But after awhile my optimism had the drawling, drool-voiced sound of stupid, even to me:
"Maybe he really did
forget where he dropped off your wedding band to have it sized. There could be a ton of jewelry stores in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania after all. One on every corner. You just never know."
"Maybe the thongs you found in plain sight in his top drawer really did
belong to his ex-ex-girlfriend...from six years ago...when they lived together in a totally different apartment in a totally different state. I mean, I can see how--six years later--those thongs could have migrated from some dark, crumpled corner in a closet in Queens, to the top of his most-used drawer in Harrisburg,PA. Where they folded themselves."
I don't know why I enabled. I think because she was my first married friend, I reacted differently than I would now, almost three years later. At that time, their relationship seemed different--important--to me. I was still fretting over outfits to wear on first dates, and would he call/should I call him
. They were filing joint taxes. I knew nothing about such things. Who was I to give advice?
But after awhile I couldn't help myself. Instead of agreeing that there might
be some understandable but hidden reason that he refused to give her the whereabouts of the car they leased under HER name
, I started doling out Truth, whole and nothing but. My voice got louder and more certain over time:
"I mean...well, I know he's your husband, and I know how much you care about him, but...that just doesn't seem fair. It's going to ruin your credit, not his. I don't see how that serves a purpose for either of you."
became at last,
"A person who loves you shouldn't do that."
And they wouldn't. They wouldn't cancel vacations, borrow huge sums of money, call in jealous rages, keep ex-girlfriend's underwear, hide automobiles. Lose wedding rings.
I may not be an expert, but I do have common sense, gut instinct, and EYES. And all three tell me that my friend should divorce this man.
And finally, FINALLY, I told her that. She came to me about two months ago, with yet another fucked up tale of his fucked up behavior. He'd stopped talking to her for four days with no explanation. They were now deeply in debt--meaning SHE was now deeply in debt--because of his new business. And (the kicker) he was pressuring her to have a child, saying if they didn't have one now then they would never have one. He was ready. This year. End of story. Never mind that she is only 27. Never mind that she is the breadwinner in their family. She could either get pregnant within the next 12 months, or accept that they would have no children.
I saw flames. I couldn't be kind. No more support. No more listening. No more subtle hints. No more direct, but still nice, messages. Fuck. This. Motherfucker.
It was the most honest, most productive conversation we've had in years. Once the "D-word" was out of my mouth, I couldn't stop. I became Oprah
. "We'll figure out a plan," I told her, "Your parents will help you out of this. I know they will. You are one of the strongest women I know. I know it will be hard, but if anyone can do this, you can."
We both cried.
We decided we'd meet every week so that she would have someone to talk this out with. When we got together the next Tuesday, I arrived ready to listen, to counsel, to kick some ass.
She arrived and told me they had gone to the movies the weekend before. Had had such a nice time. Were working on things. And did I mind? Oh! There he was! Could he join us for a drink after dinner?
I felt sick.
To Be Continued....