Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Year's Eve Tips for Singles

Sue’s New Year’s Eve suggestions for singles are great. Here are some additional tips gathered from three single friends.

Kristi routinely turns down her girlfriends’ invitations to New Year’s Eve dinner in favor of her own quiet celebratory ritual. Way in advance, she schedules herself for a manicure, pedicure, facial, Shiatsu massage, and workout session with a personal trainer, followed by her regular Hatha yoga class. At the end of the day, Kristi feels self-indulgent and exhausted in a very satisfying way. She is rested, relaxed, and ready for good night’s sleep. She has a light dinner and a long soak in the tub, curls up with a book and a glass of wine, and before she knows it, she has to get up and get moving to get to her yoga instructor’s two- hour special New Year’s morning session for his diehard pupils, which is followed by a really great guilt-free vegan brunch.

When Monica first got divorced, she went for counseling and the advice she got was to be proactive and do what the opposite sex likes to do, so Monica joined the local ski club which is co-ed and largely made up of single men. Every New Year’s Eve, the ski club has an early pot luck dinner. The party breaks up no later than midnight, though most ski club members want to be in bed by 10 since the next morning at 4:30 a.m., they all have to be on a chartered bus with their gear, ready to spend New Year’s Day on the slopes.

Kathy always spends New Year’s Eve babysitting for her nieces and nephews. She has all five of them in her apartment for a giant pizza party and sleepover. They watch vintage horror movies after the littlest ones are tucked in to their sleeping bags. The next day, the kids’ parents drop by in mid-afternoon to retrieve them. As a reward, her grateful siblings chip in and send Kathy to a full-service spa the following weekend.

However you choose to spend your New Year's Eve, we wish you a very Happy New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Divorced on New Year's Eve

For several years after my husband and I separated, the day I dreaded most was New Year's Eve. I feared parties because I imagined that the moment the ball dropped, everyone in the room would grab their beloved and start smooching while I stood awkwardly alone. But my anticipation was always worse than the night itself.

My ex moved out five years ago this December, and for that first New Year's Eve, my wonderful daughter -- then a college senior -- thoughtfully planned a party at our house so I wouldn't face the night alone. She spent all day making hors d'oeuvres, involving me in the preparations, and filled our home with her chatty, adorable friends to keep me company. I can't thank her enough, though I was too freaked out to express my gratitude at the time. I don't remember how I stumbled through the holiday during the next few years, but I'll never forget that the moment midnight struck, each of my kids invariably called me from wherever they were to wish me a Happy New Year and tell me they loved me. That went a very long way.

If you're recently separated or divorced and are fortunate enough to regard the holiday as just another night of the year, you'll survive it easily by settling in with a good book or DVD. But if you can't quite convince yourself that the night is ordinary, then make plans with a few single girlfriends. Invite them over for a pot-luck dinner and a viewing of "The First Wives Club" or the original black-and-white version of "The Women." Or go out with them to a movie or comedy club. Before you know it, you'll realize that the holiday is, in fact, just another night -- and that every new year of your life really does get happier.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Blended Families at the Holidays

Step-families, or blended families are tricky business at holiday time because of rigid custody schedules, a new step-mother or step-father in the house, and many other potential land mine factors. For parents, flexibility and understanding are key, and knowing that most kids will take a good long while to warm up when meeting new step-parents or step-siblings will help ease any adult hurt feelings.

Whenever birthdays or holidays arrive, the best solution is to create a fair and guilt-free schedule for the kids – they can celebrate Thanksgiving at mom’s house and Christmas Eve at dad’s house and reverse it on other years. Mother’s Day, however, should always see the biological children with their own mother, and the same goes for Father’s day. It’s a good idea to have these important days written in to a court ordered custody schedule, or added if you haven’t done so already. The custody schedule can prevent drama if everything is spelled out, even down to the hour. Whether or not you like the schedule, it will be clear and enforceable and will relieve the kids of any guilt.

Tip for being a great step mom or great step dad: have your step kids call their biological moms and dads on all of the holidays when they are in your custody. And pick up the phone yourself and wish your step-child’s mother or father a Happy Birthday, Happy Mother’s Day or Merry Christmas. It’s the right thing to do.

Monday, December 22, 2008

More Divorce Wedding Etiquette: Remember Whose Wedding It Is

If you and your ex are still fuming at one another, there are bound to be glitches when you both have to share your daughter's or son's wedding day. Here are a few scenarios and suggestions:

"There is no way I will sit next to him".
That's fine. Nowhere is it written that divorced parents have to sit together.If they really can't stand each other, at the ceremony, the mother usually sits in the front row and the father in the row behind her. They can also be separated by seating them both in the front row with other relatives between them (like referees). At the reception, they can be seated at different tables,each with people they like.

What about the receiving line after the ceremony?
Do you have to tolerate your ex’s new spouse standing next to you? The receiving line format is up to bride and groom. Luckily, it is traditional that the only man in the receiving line is the groom, and this idea is the best bet for divorced parents.If both parents want to be in the receiving line but don't want to stand beside each other, then the line should go as follows: bride's mom, her new husband, groom's mom, groom's dad, bride’s dad, his new wife.

“I’m not going if he’s bringing her.”
You don’t want to threaten the kids or make them unhappy on their wedding day, but you truly can’t stand to be in the same room with your ex’s new wife since she's the one who broke up your family and threw your life into chaos. If you are adamant, chances are good that your son or daughter will bow to your wishes. The bridal couple has every right not to invite the "new better half". This is a day for family and if the kids are not close to their parent's new spouse and their inclusion will cause extra problems, then it's not worth it. Also if the bride’s father won't attend the wedding if he can't bring his wife/girlfriend, he has clearly made an unfortunate and rather stupid decision to bow out.

The main point is that the bride or groom lived through a lot of pain because of their parents’ divorce, so both parents should act like grownups, put aside their hostilities and narcissism, and try to do whatever is most important to the kids, even if that means dad has to leave his new wife at home or mom has to tolerate being in the same room with her.

Wedding Etiquette for Step-Parents

When a parent of the bride or groom is divorced and remarried, what is the proper wedding behavior for the step-parent? My friend Lisa attended the wedding of her husband's daughter from his first marriage. Lisa took a back seat, literally. At the ceremony, she sat in the back along with the wedding guests rather than with the relatives and bridal party. She remained invisible during the ceremony, didn't stand on the receiving line, and didn't stick her face into in any family photos. That seems appropriate and sensitive behavior for most families. But in a case of egregious behavior, the stepfather of a young bride gallantly chipped in $30,000 to help pay for her wedding. That sounds nice, but years earlier this man -- let's call him Dave -- had been the home wrecker who had an adulterous affair with the bride's mother, who was then married to Dave's best friend and business partner. So Dave was instrumental in breaking up the bride's family, his own family -- each with teenage kids -- plus the business and longtime friendship with the bride's father. Even though Dave married their mother and moved in with them, the bride and her sister never forgave him and never came to like him. But at the wedding, emboldened by his generous contribution, Dave stood up and made a toast, addressing the bride's father as well as his own ex-wife. "It's high time that we let bygones be bygones," he announced.

The bride was enraged and her wedding was ruined as far as she was concerned. She and her sister had resented Dave ever since he joined their family, and over the years that took a toll on his marriage to their mother. But this was the straw that broke the camel's back, and Dave and their mom broke up soon thereafter.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Divorce Settlements for the Rest of Us

Celebrities and their spouses may be getting huge divorce windfalls, but the average Jane is in deep financial tapioca if she’s negotiating a divorce settlement these days.

Julia has been a mostly stay-at-home mom with a part-time job selling real estate for the past 20 years. She loves the real estate job because its flexibility has allowed her to chauffeur her three daughters to their activities, be a Girl Scout troupe leader and volunteer for the PTA. Rob, her soon-to-be ex, until recently a big-time investment strategist, always said he loved her job too because Julia was able to be home in time put a hot meal on the table for the family every night.

The unraveling started with Rob becoming fatally attracted to Marisa, his running partner, a 35 year old single tri-athlete with a killer body, a Harvard MBA and a trust fund. He became so ga-ga (or so cagey, depending on your view),that he cut back on his financial consulting business to train for marathons all over the world with Marisa.
Now that he has successfully depleted his income along with the family’s savings, Rob has filed for divorce. Julia’s income is no longer considered the family’s “second income”. Even though the real estate market is all but dead, and she hasn’t been able to sell a house in six months, Rob’s divorce attorney is claiming that Julia should be supporting herself, the kids and the house, plus paying Rob alimony. This normally would seem like an outrageous crock that any judge would throw out of court without hesitation. However, since Rob’s vastly depleted income is in financial services, the employment area known to be the worst off, Julia’s lawyer has warned her that she’ll be looking at a good deal if she walks away with half the house and the obligation to support herself and the kids. And if the judge doesn’t order her to pay Rob any alimony, she’s supposed to consider herself lucky!

Monday, December 15, 2008

What Recession? A Whopper Divorce Settlement

Madonna and Guy Ritchie worked out their divorce settlement. The pop star will pay her ex between $76 million and $92 million, according to her spokesman. The amount includes the value of their country home in western England as well as the couple's London pub, the Punchbowl.

"I'd assume it's one of the largest payouts ever in a divorce settlement," her spokesperson told the AP.

Even bigger than the 32 million POUNDS that Paul McCartney forked over to Heather Mills. And all that dough after Guy Ritchie stated repeatedly that he didn't want anything from Madonna because he was a successful film director in his own right. Guess he changed his mind.

A Marriage Made in Hell

Why is it that some of the world’s worst marriages last on and on like the Energizer Bunny?
Here’s one for example:

Posy and Jacques, her French husband, have been married now for 18 years. They met when Posy was researching an article on where to stay in the Bahamas for a travel magazine and Jacques was managing a four star resort and aggressively looking for a fifth star.
Moving to the city from an adjacent state,Posy had attended a two year college in New York. Three days into her first semester at age 18, she began a five year affair with a 60 year old married professor. When he dropped dead of a heart attack, her family actually celebrated. She bounced back quickly, and immediately took up with another married guy, the editor of a major travel magazine. By and by his wife discovered the tryst, and the editor offered Posy a long-term assignment in the Caribbean.
Not being one to waste any time, her first night in the Bahamas she sidled up to Jacques at the hotel bar and accepted his invitation to sleep with him in the manager’s suite. Jacques was a mere ten years older than she is, and single, not her usual fare, but he was French and handsome. Besides, she got to pocket the expense money from the magazine by staying with him. Three months later, they were married on the beach and he was well on his way to getting the Green Card he coveted. Her parents were relieved that he was younger than them and had never been married to anyone except their daughter. Which they knew because they paid to have a background check done on him.

Posy now works for an Asian luxury hotel chain and travels 40 weeks of the year, maintaining long term relationships with boyfriends in three different Asian cities. Jacques is CEO of a consulting business he set up a half dozen years ago in their suburban basement, attempting to place professional hotel managers at luxury resorts. So far he has had two or three interested clients, but no interest from the hotels. So, while he and Posy wait for his business to take off, he has started a small French language private tutoring institute in his home. He students are mostly the stay at home wives of wealthy Korean and Japanese businessmen. One of his students recently gave birth to a Eurasian child, a clone of Jacques, which despite the mother’s entreaties, Jacques insisted was not his. Her husband sent her and the baby packing back to her family in Korea. This was fine with Jacques, because his true love is the gorgeous young wife of a Japanese comic book publisher. But, he’s not leaving Posy, even for his true love. Hey, he has his Green Card, and no wife around most of the time to bother him. She makes hundreds of thousands a year and he never has to sleep with her. Did we mention that as she has aged she has begun to closely resemble Kermit the Frog?
Posy consulted with a big time divorce attorney to explore leaving no-job Jacques, but her parents went ballistic. They told her that since Jacques has zero income, she’d be paying him alimony forever if they split.
So the blissful marriage lives on. And you could definitely say this lovely couple deserves one another.

Divorce Survival Tips

This Friday, December 19th, we'll be on the Morning Show with Rachel and Jeff on WTIC-Fox in Hartford between 8 and 9 a.m. We'll touch on the following survival tips from STILL HOT.

1. It's not your fault if your husband left you for his 22-year-old yoga instructor.

(So don't believe his charges that you drove him away because you controlled the thermostat, smeared night cream on your face, and didn't let him floss in bed. His fling with the babe has everything to do with his fear of death and decrepitude.)

2. You'll learn that your girlfriends are either Betty's or Veronica's.

(You need to lean on them, but you'll quickly find out that some get an A and a few deserve an F. The A girlfriend runs into your ex and tells you just what you wanted to hear: that he's gotten bald and fat. But the F pal reports back that he's gotten really buff and his girlfriend looks like Cameron Diaz.)

3. Change your image from soccer-mom stodgy to single-mom sexy.

(By going shopping with your teenage daughter and letting her swap your frumpy sweats for tank tops and form-fitted skirts. And be sure to toss your white cotton granny panties.)

4. Those internet dating profiles can be a crock of cow dung.

(They're inflated, misstated and self-deluded, but with practice and our book, you'll learn to decode them. For instance, if he describes himself as "cuddly," he has a 50-inch waist. If he's been told he's "very handsome," it's by his mother. And never underestimate the power of Photoshop to erase bad teeth and multiple chins.)

5. Beware if the guy you're dating is totally bald, but there's a hairdryer and conditioner in his bathroom.

(Mr. Wrong comes in two varieties: the Player and the Loser. The player is described above; you might also find a lavender thong between his sheets or a lacey camisole in his closet. No matter what he says, they're not his mother's. The loser's idea of a long-term relationship is six weeks, and you have to kick four laundry bags out of the way to enter his apartment, where you'll find his extensive porn collection.)

6. You haven't moved on if you're obsessed with your ex and his new babe -- and whether hers are saline, silicone, or spectacular. (Totally silicone.)

(It's cathartic to indulge in spiteful fantasy, but you need to focus on rebuilding your own life and putting him and his young cupcake behind you. Even though, yes, hers are definitely fake and that's probably not her original nose.)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Divorce: Two Lives Under One Roof

There are now a number of divorced couples who are living together, stuck leading totally separate lives under the same greatly depreciated roof. Because real estate sales are at a standstill, these couples can’t split the revenue from the sale of their jointly-owned house, move out, and move on.

Take Pete, aka “the soup guy,” for instance. Bette-Ann met Pete in her divorced singles discussion group. Although, she had pledged to herself not to date anyone in her group, he was nice, funny friendly and persistent, and she gave in. Pete’s idea of a fun date was to take a long walk together, then go grocery shopping and bring all the ingredients back to Bette-Ann’s house and cook up a fabulous pot of soup. Bette-Ann who had never had a man make a meal for her in her life, except that time when she was four and her mom gave birth to her younger sister and her dad made her peanut butter sandwiches, was enthralled. For the first 3 dates. Then it wore a little thin, and she let Pete know she wouldn’t mind going out for dinner and a movie. As a matter of fact, she’d go Dutch. She just wanted to get out of her house for a change. Not to mention that because he was doing the cooking, she always felt obligated to wash the dishes plus his soup pot, which was no break at all from her daily routine. So, Pete agreed to a movie and dinner date. Once. Then he resumed the soup routine.
Bette-Ann began to wonder why Pete never wanted to make soup at his place. So she asked, and here is what she learned: Pete and his ex had been divorced for three years, but they had a huge mortgage on their two bedroom condo and no buyers. Neither could afford to move out without the money from the sale of the condo. A year and a half after the divorce was final, Pete’s ex had finally invited her new boyfriend to move in. With his 160 pound Old English Mastiff. Which Pete was allergic to. Not to mention that the boyfriend has custody of six year old twins with ADD on alternate weekends.
Hearing this harrowing tale, Bette-Ann was terrified that one day Pete would appear at her doorstep with his soup pot and his suitcase and try to move in, so she dumped him. Since then she’s seen about 15 movies and hasn’t had one bowl of soup.

Divorce and the Recession

The recession appears to have a two-pronged effect on the divorce rate, forcing less-affluent couples to stay together while giving wealthier ones a reason to split.

Experts agree that when cash is tight, marital problems spike. In some cases, money is the cushion that supports the relationship, and when it disappears, couples are left with the bare bones of a not-so-happy union. Moreover, financial problems increase strife, stress and depression, all of which put a severe strain on marriages.

These factors could lead to a rise in the divorce rate. In addition, with the stock market tanking, wealthy business owners who are now poorer on paper see this as an opportune time to divide assets. Sumner Redstone filed for divorce when his 16 million Viacom shares were at $18.85, down from $39.40 six months ago, and his CBS shares had dropped about $288 million in value. His wife got millions less than she would have had he filed six months earlier.

But for people who are not wealthy, divorce is a luxury they cannot afford. The disastrous real-estate market is leaving many homeowners with no equity in their homes and turning what would normally be their biggest marital asset into a liability. Or at the very least, it's impossible to sell the marital home for enough money to finance two new households and monthly child support. Retirement accounts have plunged in value. People who have lost jobs have no choice but to stick with the spouse who can provide medical benefits. And people can’t get a credit card or personal loan to pay attorney fees because the lending market is so tight. As a result, some couples are choosing to live together as estranged roommates. And maybe, if they're lucky, they just might weather the storm.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Still Hot Interview in Hartford,CT

Still Hot fans in the Hartford area, we'll be in your neighborhood this week! Tune in to NBC 30 CT News Today at 11AM
On Thursday, December 11th!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Dating: Fresh Direct = Fresh + Direct

Like many of us, after her divorce Liz found herself happily losing some excess pounds, but after a while she realized that she really wasn’t eating enough and that in fact she was hardly eating anything at all on the alternate weekends when her kids were with their dad.

This fall, after a year of bad eating habits, surviving whole weekends on coffee,a large candy bar and a bottle of wine, she pledged that she would cook for herself and for friends on those lonely childless weekends, so she signed up with Fresh Direct and placed an order heavy on the healthy food groups.

The delivery arrived on Friday evening just after she had kissed the kids goodbye. The young, handsome and very buff delivery guy easily carried her three heavy boxes up the four flights to her loft. Liz had fixed herself a cup of tea and thought it would be polite to offer him one as well. He was pleased to have an opportunity to warm up on a chilly autumn night and they chatted for a while.

Two weeks later when the same delivery guy brought her order, Liz had just started to pour herself a glass of wine. Again, she politely offered and again he accepted. Only this time, after they each had a second glass of wine and then somehow the bottle was empty, they found themselves making out on her couch.

Both feeling smitten, they spoke on the phone daily after that first make-out session. Two more weeks passed and this time they ended up in her bed. It must have been pretty good, because rather than wait for two more weeks, Liz placed her order to arrive 5 days later on Wednesday night when the kids were sleeping at their dad’s. This pattern continued. The Fresh Direct guy always came with flowers or perfume for Liz in addition to her grocery order, and she stopped tipping at his insistence.

Liz began to gain weight. She was cooking up a storm. Her kids began to gain weight, though they complained that she served them too many green vegetables. Her friends began to gain weight. She was having groceries delivered every time her kids were out of the house. And she felt that this kind of “dating” was exactly what she needed at the moment – satisfying and very low maintenance.

One day, though, Liz received a phone call from an irate woman, screaming and cursing death threats at her. Before she hung up, shaken, she realized that the Fresh Direct guy’s “fiancĂ©e” had become suspicious and found Liz’ number on his cell phone.

Liz cut off the Fresh Direct deliveries ASAP. She deleted the guy’s number from her cell and refused all of his calls. He showed up at her loft a couple of times with flowers and chocolates and even tried to bring her a free Thanksgiving turkey, but she refused to buzz him in.

She has taken off five pounds even in the midst of the holidays and the kids are happy to be back on pizza and Chinese take-out. Liz regrets only that she’ll probably never have such a convenient relationship again.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Alimony, child-support, and the new girlfriend

Last night a friend told me about a woman who recently separated from her husband, a compulsive gambler. She immediately traded in that addiction for a new boyfriend who has a drinking problem. Even worse, she moved in with said man within six months of meeting him, and is now heavily advising him on his divorce litigation. Specifically, she is leaning on him to curtail the amount of alimony and child support that he'll pay to his ex-wife and kids. Yet this woman, who has kids of her own, could be in the very same position! In fact, my friend warned her, "How would you like it if your husband had a new girlfriend who did that to you?" If you're dating a separated guy, stay out of his divorce settlement!

By the way, here are a few additional money-saving tips:

1. If you're divorced, sell your old wedding dress on Craig's list, eBay, or through a consignment shop. (Assuming your daughter doesn't want the gown's doomed karma.)

2. Ditto for the wedding rings.

3. Cut down on the lattes -- they add up wallet- and calorie-wise.

4. Instead of buying a bottle of water every time you feel thirsty, save a few plastic bottles and refill them before you leave the house.

5. Don't get conned into buying fancy, expensive facial soaps. Remember, they're only on your skin for a few seconds. A bar of Basis soap, available at the drug store for less than $3, will do your complexion just fine.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Divorcee Wisdom:Recession Fashion Tips

Those of us who have been divorced learned to deal with losing half of our income and our savings well before the current economic squeeze. Here are a half dozen time-honored money saving tips from divorcees which will come in handy for all women in these recessionary times.

1.Do your own fingers and toes. A bottle of Chanel nail polish is a splurge at $19 but look at what you are saving by skipping the nail salon.

2.Maybelline Great Lash is the #1 best selling mascara and retails for about $4.25.

3.Rather than heading for the salon every time you see your roots growing in, pick up a box of Clairol Nice ‘N Easy Root Touch Up for about $6.29 and stretch out the time between professional coloring sessions.

4.Shop regularly at Zara, H&M and Target for inexpensive pieces to keep your wardrobe looking new. There are plenty of age-appropriate selections available. Just avoid the mini- skirts and the baby doll tops.

5.Get over the label snobbery with your jeans. Don’t spend a fortune on denim. Old Navy has every style at $34.50.

6.Host a clothing swap. Invite four friends to each bring a friend or two. A total of a dozen women of varying sizes is ideal. Everyone should come with 3-4 pieces of clothing she doesn’t want any more, plus accessories. Have a full length mirror handy and ask everyone to be honest with each other. I picked up one of my favorite pieces, an Armani blouse, at a swap last year.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Divorce, dating, and women of all ages

Following a feature on the world's largest pinata, we had a chance to talk about Still Hot, our humor book about divorce and dating, on The 10 Show in Philadelphia. Most of the people who worked at the station were quite young, so we were struck by their interest in our topic. During our make-up session before the interview, the make-up artist -- a beautiful woman in her late thirties -- discussed her own divorce five years ago and the engagement she had just ended in the nick of time. She explained that after her divorce, she had leaped into a love affair on the rebound. Though the invitations for her second wedding were already in the mail, she was relieved that she had at least avoided a second divorce. Then the pretty 22-year-old assistant who escorted us to the studio complained about the difficulty and confusion of dating for young singles like herself, no less for middle-aged divorcees who are brand-new to "the game." Divorce and dating are difficult trials for all women -- and for men as well.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Still Hot on TV in Philadelphia

Dear Still Hot blog fans,
If you live in the Philadelphia area, tune in to WCAU-NBC Channel 4 on Monday morning November 24th. Still Hot will be featured on The 10 Show with Bill Henley and Lori Wilson.
See you there!
Linda and Sue

Guest Bloggers Invited

If you have a relationship story you'd like to share, e-mail it to us at: We'll review it and post it. Please note that all guest blogs are subject to editing.
We look forward to posting your stories!
Linda and Sue

Friday, November 21, 2008

Internet Dating: A Scary Story

We've joked about how online dating introduces you to the world of geeks, neurotics, and big fat liars, and occasionally it can even lead to Mr. Right. But a piece in today's New York Times reminded me of the dark side of internet dating, and it doesn't hurt to remind others.

A soldier who was stationed in Colorado met a woman online and, for their first date, took her to the mountains overlooking Colorado Springs. There, he blindfolded and raped her, and then slit her throat. I hate to spread the bad news, but please, anybody who reads this blog: when you meet a guy through the internet, make sure that your first few dates are in a public place. That doesn't mean a picnic in the park or a ride on his boat; it means a restaurant or a Starbucks or a walk on city streets where there are lots of other people around. Drive to the meeting place yourself -- don't get in his car. Don't invite him back to your home. And don't give him your last name, home phone number, or address. Do this until you feel certain that he is normal and trustworthy. If he's a good guy, he won't mind. And no exceptions, no matter how charming he seems. Ninety-nine percent of the men you'll meet through internet dating are harmless, but you can't tell who might be that in that scary one percent.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Vicarious Internet Dating

Internet dating has even struck a chord with happily married Jewish mothers!

My friend Joy has been married to Lou for nearly forty years and she adores him. She wants nothing less than the same sort of relationship that she and Lou share for their children. When their son Jesse turned 35 and remained a single ski bum living in Aspen, making a living as a ski instructor and taking photo portraits of vacationers at the mountain top, Joy decided she had to do something to get him matched up, and fast.

Jesse, a good looking athletic guy, dated frequently, mostly bunny-slopers who were gone and never heard from again after their week’s vacation. Of course, he was perfectly happy with these no-strings-attached so-called relationships. Taking what she saw as desperate matters into her own hands, and assuming her son’s identity, Joy registered on JDate and filled out a questionnaire. She received a few eligible matches, each living within a few hours of Aspen. By emailing back and forth with these young women, writing what she thought Jesse would, or sometimes SHOULD,say, she weeded out the rest, and felt satisfied that one young woman, Jodi, was just perfect for Jesse. So she asked for Jodi’s phone number, gathered up her courage and approached her son.

Jesse was furious at first--as in “Just how intrusive can you get, Mom”? But then, she showed him Jodi’s photo and the email exchanges. He was intrigued, and with a little coaxing agreed to make the call.

Long story short, two years later Jodi and Jesse got married. They moved back East to live near Joy and Lou who reluctantly but loyally babysit for the kids' Rotweiller puppy while keeping their fingers crossed for human grandchildren soon, as the young and happy couple returns to Aspen for a winter ski vacation each year.

Hmmm… looks like there’s something to be said here for nosy moms and arranged marriages…

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rebound madness

Here's another tale of rebound lunacy. My friend Lynn, freshly separated after a long marriage, dived right into online dating and emerged with a successful psychiatrist. Steve lived in a beautiful home with a pool overlooking the beach. The chemistry was flirtatious and romantic right off the bat -- just what Lynn needed to feel sexy and back in the game -- and things quickly turned serious. Steve was a fantastic lover, and Lynn was smitten. But there were a few troubling signs. The first time she visited his house, she discovered a complete woman's wardrobe that filled one side of the master-bedroom closet. He explained that the dresses, pumps, sneakers and slacks belonged to a former girlfriend who never bothered to retrieve them. Another time, while skinny-dipping in his pool, she spotted a bikini top lying across a chaise lounge. Steve offhandedly explained that it belonged to his neighbor, who liked to use his pool. Lynn accepted that explanation, not questioning how the neighbor managed to walk home topless.

Another time a woman answered the phone when she called his house. Steve said it was his cleaning woman -- though Lynn distinctly felt that the voice didn't belong to a housekeeper. Then she found a hamper by his bedroom door, full of his freshly laundered, neatly folded clothing. And right on top, several pairs of women's panties. Again the cleaning woman! He explained that she sometimes mixed her laundry in with his.

Finally, when they were lying in his bed one night, she found a lavender thong between the sheets. He explained that the darned cleaning woman must have gotten her underwear caught in his sheets in the dryer and unwittingly made the bed with it stuck inside. Lynn was getting mighty suspicious. (It only took her eight months longer than it would the average idiot!) Still, she chose to believe him when he left town for a week to visit his sick sister, calling Lynn daily from "the hospital" to report on his sister's dire condition.

She later learned that his sister was quite healthy, and that he was actually on vacation with another woman in South Beach. And that the wardrobe in his closet, the bikini top, the panties, the lavender thong, and the voice that answered his phone all belonged to that steady girlfriend of four years. Lynn managed to contact her and compare notes: Sure enough, whenever Lynn visited Steve on weekends, he instructed her to arrive on Friday evening and leave promptly at 11 a.m. Saturday morning. And he told his girlfriend to arrive at exactly noon every Saturday. Steve had been screwing them back-to-back every weekend for the past year. To top it off, he had planned a two-week vacation for himself, inviting Lynn to join him for the first week and his girlfriend for the second. When Lynn asked him what he would do by himself for the second week, he said, "Oh, I'll read some magazines." But the girlfriends foiled his fantasy retreat by simultaneously dumping him. Apparently he really did read those magazines.

Sadly, a year later Lynn learned that the girlfriend had gone back to him. Moral of the story: (1) there's always a woman out there who's more desperate than you are, and (2)shrinks are fine for therapy, but avoid dating them.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dating Hideous Men

How many of us have dated hideous men while on the rebound? And I don’t mean physically ugly guys who could be sweet. I mean hideous men with hearts of coal.

Recently Sally’s true love built her a new desk which led to cleaning out her files and reviewing every piece of paper she had hoarded for the past 20 years. She came across a journal entry from back when, around the time of her divorce, she had dated a horrible man who she found “interesting” because he collected art and because people were in awe of his spending power and invited him to all sorts of cool places.
One night, after downing a couple of dirty martinis, he decided to share his life philosophy with her. She was so appalled that she went home and entered his monologue in her journal and here it was ten years later:

“I know I’m a brilliant art collector. You know how I know? Because people hate me, and I love that. I know what I like and I know what moves me. I know everything there is to know about color and shape and emotion and I told this artist his work was just not doing it for me and he said ‘You know you really are a dick-head like they say.’
I knew then that my status as a collector was complete and that I was enough of a bastard to be a dealer because nothing could give me greater pleasure than ripping off some stupid artist who can paint but knows nothing about money.”

About a week after that journal entry, Sally went on a ski trip to Utah with this charming fellow. She still found him interesting, though years later she can’t really remember why.
Somehow in the airport bustle, he managed to lose his plane ticket and started to panic. Sally asked him gently, ”Where do you remember having it last?”
He went ballistic and started screaming “Shut up. Shut up! You are not my mother!" And he jumped up and down like a troll, with a crowd beginning to gather to see if they could help. Undeterred and unembarrassed, he stomped and tantrummed, and as the fervor of his fit increased, everything fell out of his pockets including his ticket. Sally picked it up and handed it to him and he never said a word about the incident again. And yes, she continued to date him for another two months!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On the rebound: deaf, DUMB, and blind

That reminds me of my idiotic rebound relationship, which I lurched into about five minutes after my husband moved out. How many signs can a person ignore? I dated the divorced father of my son's best friend. My son warned me: "He's not a good guy, Mom." I didn't raise an eyebrow. On my first date with the guy, he informed me that he had cheated on his wife and that he was a narcissist. I thought, how touchingly honest and penitent. On our second date, he rattled off the names of all his ex-girlfriends -- approximately ten since his divorce -- and there was something wrong with each and every one. I congratulated myself on not being flawed like them. He remarked that he was seeing another woman and would have to break up with her so he and I could move forward. Fine with me! On our third date, he told me about how an ex-gf had stalked him and pulled a gun on him. I was horrified and declared her a psycho. When we started dating regularly, he told me he could see me on Friday or Saturday evenings, but not both, because his 17-year-old son liked to hang with Dad on weekend nights. Now, I knew his son, and he was a hip kid with lots of friends, but still I bought this line. I hung in there, desperately in love, until he finally dumped me. Even then, it took a few weeks for me to figure out that he had never broken up with his previous girlfriend, so he was seeing us simultaneously -- me on Friday night and her on Saturday -- while his teenage son was out with his pals.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Rebound Relationships: Listen to the Warnings

While Sally was in the process of divorcing, several months after she realized her husband had moved on with his life and was never coming back, she began dating and felt lucky to finally meet an interesting, funny man who knew more than she did about her main interest, art. The relationship was a great diversion from the drawn out divorce process and from facing the fact that her husband preferred his twenty something year old teaching assistant to her.
Being on the rebound wasn’t so bad, she thought. After a month of dating this interesting fellow, Sally introduced him to her lifelong friend who was in town visiting from Atlanta.
The next day her friend left Sally a terse, two-word voicemail: “Ladies man.” Sally shrugged this off. She was too taken with this fellow who routinely kissed her passionately in the middle of the sidewalk.
A few months later, they booked a trip together to a beautiful Caribbean island where his good friends spend their winters. As Sally waded in the warm turquoise water with this couple, his best friends for a decade, as he went off snorkeling, they said, “You seem like such a nice girl. Just watch out.”
She asked what they meant and they both said “Just be careful. Don’t get hurt.” She told them she didn’t know him well enough to get hurt. But one month later, when he ditched her at a party so he could sleep with the hostess, an artist attired only in elbow length evening gloves, whose artwork involved pinning living butterflies to her canvases, Sally sobbed for weeks on end.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Internet Adultery

The OW who crossed my path had already had five or six adulterous flings under her belt, so to speak. I have to give her credit for her perseverance, because she managed to accomplish all that during a 12-year marriage and while caring for her two young children. Eventually she zeroed in on a wealthy older man -- also married with kids -- and their affair spiraled into a domestic drama worthy of Tolstoy. These two, whom I often think of as Bonnie and Clyde, left devastation in their wake, blowing up their marriages, wrecking two families and leaving their children in emotional turmoil for years to come.

Their affair had been largely conducted through secret email accounts, lovey-dovey instant-messages, and clandestine cell phone calls, particularly because they lived a couple thousand miles apart. I was interested to see that a new study, reported in the New York Times, found that infidelity is on the rise, especially among older men and young couples -- a demographic that matches the above-described duo. Moreover, the study found that growing numbers of these affairs are centered on electronic contact.

"I see a changing landscape in which the emphasis is less on the sex than it is on the openness and intimacy and the revelation of secrets," says one marriage therapist. "Everybody talks by cell phone and the relationship evolves because you become increasingly distant from whomever you lie to, and you become increasingly close to whomever you tell the truth to."

Food for thought. While it's no surprise that the new technology fuels illicit fantasies and infatuations, perhaps the biggest danger is the lying and secrecy that it enables, driving a growing wedge between spouses that becomes, in effect, a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Other Woman

Ever since I was a teenager, I have been addicted to Vogue Magazine. I study the photo spreads as religiously as other women might study the Bible or the Qu’ran. However, in all my years as a Vogue devotee, I have rarely actually read an article. But this month, I had to read every word of the article entitled “The Ex Factor” by Anne Taylor Fleming, who, as an eighteen year old, became involved with a forty year old married man who left his wife for her in 1969. They have been married ever since.

Who are these Other Women, anyway? I needed to know who would admit to this heinous behavior which breaks all the codes. And why. And what’s inside her head. And how guilty is she? Did she realize how much damage she did in breaking up a family? Would she do it over again? Is being really young an excuse? Is it possible to naively not know any better?

What resonates particularly badly with me about Anne Taylor Fleming is that as she supposedly grieved at the funeral of her husband’s former wife, the woman whose family she had destroyed many years before, she regretted she had never taken the opportunity to thank this woman for giving her a family “and making room in it for a ridiculously young second wife”. No real qualms. Nothing about how her four stepsons, one barely five years younger than Fleming, had to cope. Just pure narcissism.

My familiarity with OW’s began with my college roommate Deb whose relationship with her married boss was chronicled in a previous blog entry. Deb was truly in some sort of la-la land and never had a clue. All she knew was that she loved her boss with all her heart and that she believed he loved her, and so she couldn’t understand why his wife didn’t just release him as if he were a caged parakeet.

The next OW to cross my path was Peg who was a serial husbandizer, a single woman who dated married men exclusively, one after the other until—briing!—her reproductive alarm clock went off, and she arranged for her tryst of the moment to turn into an ugly divorce case so she could marry the guy and have a baby. It all turned out according to her plan.

And then there’s Madame X, the Massachusetts midget, who has made a habit over the past twenty years of breaking up marriages just to feel special. To be honest, once she wrecks a home, she does tend to marry most of the guys, but every now and then she flips one of the scrawnier fish with a flatter wallet back into the water.

I had a conversation with a young friend whose mother recently disclosed that in her twenties she had been an OW for several years before becoming dissatisfied and moving to Paris. Having lived the life of an OW, she recognized a good guy when she met one and immediately married the first one who came along. That was well over 30 years ago. It’s great that when she did settle down, she was able to marry a wonderful man, but I wonder what her daughter thinks of her OW history back in the day.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Need-based love

That's what these rebound relationships are all about, right? Women who are driven to "fall in love" out of neediness and desperation. The result is usually blindness to the man's character, and ugly surprises down the road.

Ever since her divorce, my friend Polly has jumped from one rebound relationship to the next. This is because she can't be without a boyfriend for more than two weeks. Every time a heavy, deeply involved relationship ends, she manages to pop up in another one within two weeks. About a year ago she hastily and eagerly dived into a live-in relationship after the guy she had been dating for a month took her on a romantic, extravagant trip to Venice replete with champagne and candlelit sunken tub, and showered her with Mahnolo Blaniks. How this could be the piece de resistance that would catapult anyone into a serious relationship is beyond me, given that any guy with a few bucks could do it. It reveals nothing about his character except that he is perhaps a spendthrift.

In any event, she sold her home, sold off her furniture, and moved into his apartment. I thought he displayed some early signs of thuggish and controlling behavior, but that eluded her. As time went by, however, she saw that he had a Jekyll and Hyde personality. One day he plied her with Ferragamo's and Jimmy Choo's, the next day he'd get angry and curse her out in a shockingly coarse way, calling her "slut," "whore" and the C word. The following day he was all contrition, offering to do whatever she wanted, which she found irresistibly endearing. This continued for more than a year. At one point he threw her out of the apartment during a fight, even though she was paying half the rent and no longer had a home to return to. He even confiscated her cell phone and barred her from using the computer so she wouldn't be able to find a place to go.

But sure enough, he later apologized and she moved back in. After several more months of abuse she finally ended the relationship. And guess what? Within two weeks she went online and resurfaced in another one, with yet another guy she'd known for about a month. She never looks back look enough to analyze this pattern -- she just cruises right along to the next boyfriend. She has even criticized me for being too picky and critical of the men I've met online. Well, I call it being discriminating, and while it's left me without a boyfriend for long periods of time, I'd rather have it that way.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rebound Relationships: Out of the Frying Pan, into the Fire

That “Dark Side” business is scary. Most of us think any fairly intelligent woman would know her new mate well enough before she moved in with him so as not to find certain aspects of his character totally surprising, but obviously that’s not always the case.

Here is a cautionary real-life tale:

Fresh from a failed second marriage, and never one to spend more than two minutes alone without a man in her life, Maxine met Jim and fell for him right away. Her first two husbands were Jewish guys, one a dentist, the other a lawyer, each from a background similar to Maxine’s. Jim was different and seemed exotic to her. He had studied to become a priest but dropped out of the seminary, got drafted and sent to Vietnam, immediately married his high school sweetheart upon his discharge, and had three sons before he turned 25.
By the time Maxine met him, he had left his wife years before, and had recently broken up with a long-term live-in girlfriend, and claimed to be an entrepreneur as the president of an Internet music company.
After a short while, he moved into Maxine’s condo, and they enjoyed their life together. He worked from home, making weekly overnight trips to Baltimore where he said his company was headquartered. They were both Francophiles studied French together. They saved up money and bought a pied-a-terre in Paris. Maxine started a business with her three best friends, and she was appointed treasurer. When Jim volunteered to keep the books for her business, she was delighted.
Time went on and she wanted to get married, but Jim insisted that they were as good as married anyway, and that marriage might ruin their wonderful relationship. Maxine’s daughter and Jim’s sons were good friends, and in a modern take on combined families, when Maxine’s daughter got married, Maxine’s second husband and Jim walked down the aisle as did Maxine and the biological father. Maxine’s daughter considered Jim her “third Dad”.
Long story short, six months after the daughter's wedding, Maxine discovered that Jim had mortgaged her apartment, raided her business of all of its capital, maxed out her credit cards, and cleaned out her retirement accounts. When he walked in the door, she was in hysterics. She asked him how he could do this to her. He told her he was sorry, that he couldn’t help himself, that he had a drug problem and that he was ashamed to admit it, but he’d done the same thing to his prior girlfriend. And, as an aside-- by the way, he had never divorced his first wife who was living in--yes-- Baltimore. Maxine came toward him shrieking as anybody who had simultaneously lost her boyfriend, her life savings, her equity, and her business might do, and he immediately took off out the window and down the fire escape never to be seen or heard from again, except in court. By then, he claimed to be bankrupt and destitute, and there was no hope of recovering a cent.
To top it all off, Maxine’s business partners, previously her three best friends, lost their money because she allowed Jim to manage the checkbook. They were not feeling forgiving.They stopped talking to Maxine-- except in court where they attempted to have her repay their losses. I liked Maxine a lot, but because my best friend was one of those former business partners, I can never speak to her again either.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Marrying on the rebound

On the subject of internet dating, my friend Cathy met her second husband online. Her first husband had walked out to move in with his girlfriend, and Cathy was blindsided. She was so distraught that for the first six months she was heavily sedated and took to her bed, didn't go to work, couldn't pick up her kids from school. After six months she began seeing a therapist who insisted she kick-start her social life. So she signed on to an internet dating site, met a few guys, and within weeks fell in love with a man who was, like her, recently separated. It was a fast, whirlwind love affair, and within a year she was sporting a huge rock and they were building a new house on the beach in North Carolina.

It took them a few years to get their divorces and complete the beach house. Once it was built, Cathy sold her New York home, left her job, and moved with her fiance to North Carolina to throw a splashy wedding and start their new life. They both found jobs, took wonderful trips together, and seemed idyllically happy and devoted. While I always suspected that they had rushed into their relationship -- with each clutching onto the other to avoid the pain and loneliness of divorce -- time proved that they were the rare exception to the usual fate of rebound relationships.

But three years into the marriage -- and eight years after they first met-- the rebound effect reared its ugly head. It turns out her new husband had a dark side that Cathy hadn't known about, and she asked him to move out. They are in the process of settling their divorce.

I felt terrible when I heard about it. But it helps explain why the divorce rate is so much higher the second time around, and it underscores the central message of our book: You have to go through the whole miserable process -- pain, anger, loneliness, transitional relationships, and the satisfaction of building a new life -- before you can pick out Mr. Right and be in a mature relationship that's not based on need. Blindly seizing on somebody doesn't work. I thought Cathy had lucked out, but it seems there are no short cuts.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Women Can be Internet Dating Weirdos Too !

Women can be Internet dating weirdos too! Even our dear friends can behave a bit “off” when faced with dating strangers.
My friend Alison was e-mailing back and forth with a man she connected with through a dating site. After two weeks of clever, witty e-mail interchange, they spoke on the phone and she found him quite charming. Although she reads fashion magazines, romance novels and vampire fiction exclusively, and he reads history and economics, they agreed to meet at an arty book store. The plan was to browse and then go out for coffee. When Alison arrived outside the book store all done up in her Prada of the moment, she peered through the window and spotted a short, ugly, older fellow dressed in a shlumpy corduroy jacket and, certain that this must be her prospective date, she bolted for home.
Once she reached her apartment, she called the guy on his cell phone and immediately went on the attack: “Where were you? I was waiting for almost an hour and you didn’t show up. You stood me up. How dare you?”
The guy couldn’t get a word in edge-wise throughout her tirade. When she finished, he told her that he had arrived a half hour early and had been waiting for her ever since, and hadn’t seen her. He told her what he was wearing- sure enough it was the corduroy jacket. She retorted that she had seen no such person in any such jacket, and that he had stood her up and was too much of a coward to admit it, and then she slammed down the phone.
When I inquired why she had made it sound as if it was all his fault, she replied that it’s a lot better for his ego for him to think that she felt snubbed, than for her to be truthful and say that she caught sight of him and that he was too ugly and shlumpy for her to go ahead with the date!
Meanwhile, he could be the nicest guy in the world and she will never know. Two years later, she’s still looking for Mr. Right.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Internet Dating Weirdos

Though I met a wonderful guy online, I still consider that outcome to be a fluke. He was on there hoping to meet just one woman who didn't lie, while I hated being on there so much that I refused to "play the game" and therefore didn't lie. Somehow we found each other, two needles in a haystack. But here's a story from a woman that strikes me as much more typical:

"Five minutes before my first meeting with a man I had met on a dating web site, he called to say that he couldn't keep our date -- he had just been hit by a bicycle and had landed in the emergency room. Something sounded off, so I called the hospital and was told that no such person was there. When I called him back, he insisted he was. Several weeks later, I spoke with a woman who also had a date with this man, and he canceled -- claiming he had just been hit by a bicycle. When I confronted him, he insisted that bike accidents aren't so unusual."

Isn't that the lamest excuse you ever heard?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Divorce and Custody of the KitchenAid Mixer

Back to Mitch and his antics. When the court finally ordered him to vacate the marital home, it was only because he had been caught in flagrente entertaining his ‘ho in the bedroom he still shared with his wife of twenty years. Gross!!

Although he and his new girlfriend had been seeing one another on the sly for long enough to be making wedding plans in Aruba, despite the fact that both of them were currently married to other people, he still was reluctant to move out from the home he shared with his wife. As a matter of fact, on the day the judge ordered him to leave, he stamped his foot like Rumplestilskin and refused to go without, of all things, the KitchenAid mixer.

His wife was surprised. He had already loaded a moving van with anything and everything he could remotely call his, and here he was throwing a tizzy fit over the mixer. She had counted on using its pasta-making attachment that very evening to make dinner for friends so she wouldn’t feel so alone in the house once he left, but she decided she’d buy her pasta at Trader Joe's and end the tirade by just giving him the mixer.

Several days later her friend in spinning class said, “I thought Mitch was a CPA, but I hear he has a cockamamie new business going. He and the new girlfriend are baking cookies using a secret recipe, packaging them and selling them in office buildings all over Boston. They’re called Cookies by Mitch and the Bitch.”

The wife reported Mitch’s new source of hidden revenue to her divorce attorney.Shortly thereafter, she found a recipe card accidentally left in the kitchen cabinet with his secret recipe.

Mitch and the Bitch’s No-Longer Secret Cookie Recipe
Makes 4 dozen large cookies
A KitchenAid helps but you can even hand mix this recipe if you’d like.

Wet Ingredients:
4 sticks margarine or butter (Mitch is cheap and uses margarine)
2 cups sugar
2 cups dark brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsps.vanilla

Dry Ingredients:
4 cups flour
4 cups oatmeal – ground
2 tsps. baking soda
2 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

one 8 oz. dark chocolate bar grated (use a high quality chocolate bar)
24 oz. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream sugar, brown sugar and margarine or butter.
Add eggs and vanilla.
Mix dry ingredients separately and then add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.
Mix in grated chocolate bar and chocolate chips.

Grease a cookie sheet.
Form golf-ball sized cookie dough balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake approximately 15 minutes. Cool.
Can be frozen and reheated in microwave.

Enjoy—courtesy of Mitch and the Bitch.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Who keeps the ring?

With the economy tanking, people are worried about their homes, the stock market, the cost of food and gas, and . . . the question of who gets the engagement ring if the wedding is called off.

Disputes on that subject are rising, according to the NY Times. Sharon Bush, a former sister in law of the president, was recently engaged to a billionaire who gave her an 11-carat diamond ring that he bought for $243,000. The engagement was called off, and when she didn't return the ring, he sued. Ms. Bush's lawyer, Raoul Felder, argued that the ring was a gift, not an engagement ring. The case ended with a settlement agreement that he won't divulge, but she has since been seen wearing the ring.

In general, courts rule that the ring goes back to the buyer regardless of who broke off the engagement. They view the ring as the symbol of a contract that is now null and void. But etiquette expert Letitia Baldrige thinks that if the woman broke off the engagement, she should return the ring, and that if the man broke it off, he should say, 'Of course you keep the ring.' If it's a family heirloom, she agrees that it should be returned but advises that the man replace it with another piece of jewelry. Fat chance!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Dating a Widower

I know three women who are currently dating widowers--the guys we refer to in our book as The Gold Standard. These men never left their wives for a younger babe, have stuck out the ups and downs of a long marriage, and when their wives needed them most, they balanced the roles of working, caretaking and parenting. What’s not to like?

However, being cautious and protective of my friend, Gold Standard guy or not, I was really worried when Suzanne handed her heart to her new love after just a date or two. I was surprised to see her hard edges melting away right in front of me, and worried sick that this guy just wanted a fling after nursing his wife throughout a two-year terminal illness. But, it turns out that he was ready to move on and he’s bananas about Suzanne and just as eager to share his future with her as she is ready to share her life with him. They’re even discussing the best locations for retirement!

A guy friend, who is a widower himself, says there are definite red flags to watch out for before falling head over heels for a widower. These signs could indicate that he’s not ready to move on yet and is (probably not consciously) using the woman he’s with now to fill the void he’s feeling.

Here are the Watch Out signs:

He hides you from his family and friends.
You remind him of his late wife.
He compares you to his late wife.
He hasn’t removed the visible shrines to his late wife.
He can’t/won’t tell you that he loves you.
He refuses to talk about his grief.

My widower friend reminded me that no one of these signs is a deal-breaker by itself, but each and all of the signs should make you aware that he may not be as ready as you are for a relationship.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ditto for me

Suzanne, I had a similar experience. I had been divorced for two and a half years, but separated for nearly five and dating on and off since that time. Like you, I had a few dead-end relationships with Mr. Wrong's. Also met a string of losers through online dating. I took a full year off from dating and devoted myself to my work, my friends, and learning to be comfortable with my own company. Of course, all of that had been taking place ever since the separation, but that year I made a conscious effort.

A few months ago Linda and our literary agent, both divorced and now happily in love, urged me to go back on JDate. I signed on reluctantly and with expectations in the deep negative range. After a few weeks, and just at the point when I planned to terminate my subscription, I started dating an interesting guy. We took our time getting to know each other, and I wasn't concerned about whether our friendship would "go anywhere." I just enjoyed his company and focused on the present. Our relationship evolved slowly, and while I am definitely not a "mush," we are seeing each other regularly and very happily. No matter what happens, I am grateful that he came into my life.

It Took Me 50 Years But... A Guest Blog

"It Took me 50 Years But…"
A Guest Blog from our friend Suzanne who was until now the most jaded woman we knew, but now she’s in love!

After divorce 11 years ago, I had 2 long term relationships. Both turned out badly and I had given up on ever finding someone. I had come to terms with the fact that I would be alone and I was really okay with that.
My job takes me all over the country and I was working in Colorado when I said that I would try eharmony, not thinking it would work out.
I have met the most wonderful man I've ever known and after 2 weeks with him we both discussed our future together. I have turned into what my friends and co-workers have called a "mush". If I can find love anyone can. As my friend from New York always says, "there is a seat for every ass".

A sampling of Republican morality

There are a number of Republicans in addition to McCain who have adulterous pasts but freely condemn Democrats like Clinton and Edwards. It's not that those two don't deserve criticism -- it's the "family-values" hypocrisy of the guys pointing their fingers that galls me. Here are the stories of two prominent Republicans who betrayed and humiliated their wives and yet present themselves as icons of integrity.

Giuliani informed his second wife, Donna Hanover, of his intention to seek a separation in a 2000 press conference. Nice way to break the news! The announcement was precipitated by a tabloid frenzy after Giuliani brazenly marched with then-mistress Judith Nathan in New York's St. Patrick's Day parade. In the divorce proceedings that followed, Hanover accused him of serial adultery, alleging that Nathan was just the latest in a string of mistresses, following an affair the mayor had had with his former communications director.

The most notorious is undoubtedly Gingrich, who ran for Congress in 1978 on the slogan, "Let Our Family Represent Your Family." (He was reportedly cheating on his first wife at the time). An alleged mistress from that period, Anne Manning, told Vanity Fair's Gail Sheehy: "We had oral sex. He prefers that modus operandi because then he can say, 'I never slept with her.'" Gingrich obtained his first divorce after forcing his wife, who had put him through graduate school, to haggle over the terms while in the hospital as she recovered from uterine cancer surgery. A few years later he was caught in an affair with a congressional aide while spearheading the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Listen Up, America: Ross Perot Speaks the Truth

There’s a lot of chat out there in the blogosphere about why John Edwards’ infidelity leads us all to assume his political career is shot, while John McCain’s infidelity is just a little blip that he manages to ignore while he traipses on his merry way. McCain has written openly in his memoirs that he ran around with women while he was married to his first wife, so I guess he figures he has already fully disclosed and doesn’t need to comment. Or maybe he figures there is a statute of limitations on cheating, and since it happened thirty years ago, he’s exonerated. Shame on the Republican hypocrites who wanted to fry Bill Clinton for his wayward behavior. These same self-righteous right wingers don't even acknowledge McCain’s less than upright position.
Ross Perot, on the other hand, apparently has been furious with McCain since he first dumped his wife for Cindy.
Perot says” McCain is the classic opportunist. He’s always reaching for attention and glory.” And a leggy blonde, we might add.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More McCain

I was happy to see that after I found that McCain story on the internet,it was picked up by the Huffington Post. That will ensure wide readership.

Here is another tidbit. On the McCain campaign trail, a reporter raised the issue of McCain's objection to gay marriage, plus his own infidelity, vis a vis his holier- than-thou alleged family values. As usual, he dodged the question and his fans cheered. Here's the account:

During his stop in Nashville on Wednesday, McCain was asked if he was "going to talk about" his "own situation," in the context of how infidelity is as serious a threat to the sanctity of marriage as is gay unions.

"There is nothing," the questioner asked, "you see long-term couples splitting up, it's, it's just crazy...I know that you, your own situation, you're going to have to address that in the campaign. Infidelity is just a terrible cancer on this country....and I think if we're going to talk marriage, it has to be in the context of the preservation of marriage."

McCain drifted around the personal implication by reiterating his opposition to the marriage of same-sex couples. "I just believe in the sanctity and the unique status of marriage between a man and a woman.," he said to cheers in the crowd.

What Would Sarah Palin Say?

That is sleazy and repulsive--especially from a guy who works to appear righteous and brave and dedicated. At least George Bush has remained devoted to Laura!

We had such fun last Friday evening at our Still Hot reading in Connecticut with women- married, single or divorced all drinking cosmos and laughing together over the pitfalls of dating a Mr. Wrong!

We also shared our own stories. One of the women talked about her husband whose MS symptoms became so debilitating that he needed permanent nursing home care while still in his forties. With regrets and guilt, and his consent and understanding, she divorced him so that he would be eligible to receive full medical coverage and benefits. Had they remained married, her insurance would have only partially covered him. She visits him every other day in the nursing home and is as devoted to her disabled partner as anyone could ever be. A far cry from going after the nearest young rich guy she might have found and abandoning her husband a la the Republican presidential candidate.

Until I just read your John McCain expose, I thought the worst case of this kind of desert-‘em-when-the-chips-are-down was the guy I know who left his wife while she was in a coma because it was too boring to sit endlessly beside her hospital bed. Luckily, she came out of the coma in time to sue him for big-time alimony! And, as he justly deserves, his next ex-wife did the same!

Monday, September 22, 2008

John McCain's mid-life crisis

I think women should know the kind of husband that John McCain is and how he treats the women in his life.

John McCain first married Carol, a beautiful swimsuit model. They had three children whom she cared for while he went to war and was held captive as a POW. One wintry night during his absence Carol had a car accident on an icy road and was severely injured, requiring multiple operations that left her five inches shorter in height and with a permanent limp. When McCain returned from war, he commented to friends that his wife "is no longer the woman I married." The war hero immediately began running around with other women and eventually met the beautiful, rich, well-connected Cindy, who was 18 years his junior. He pursued and dated her during his marriage while still living with Carol.

In the divorce settlement, McCain agreed to pay for Carol's future medical expenses. Carol chalks up his behavior to the classic mid-life crisis, explaining that John left her for the young heiress because "He was 40 and wanted to be 25."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Well- Deserved Smack Over the Head

After graduation, one of my college roommates, Deb, came to New York and began working at a big international Fortune 500 firm as what was known in those days as a secretary and is now called a special assistant. Her boss was a tall, lanky, handsome 35 year old married guy with three very young kids, a beautiful wife, a big salary and a roving eye.
Soon he and Deb had a hot and heavy romance going. They often spent the night at his pied-a-terre in the city. I wonder what his wife thought about his claiming to be so overworked that he couldn’t make it home to Greenwich (less than a 45 minute commute).
For years, Deb believed that he loved her, that he was working on leaving his wife and that she and her boss would live happily ever after. They enjoyed their stolen moments in the pied-a -terre, not to mention dinners at Lutece and the Four Seasons, and she accompanied him on all of his business trips to Frankfurt, Paris, London, Sydney and Geneva. He bought her perfume, jewelry and expensive watches. After a while, she began to notice her biological clock ticking away.
Finally she delivered the ultimatum--it had to be now or never. He assured her that he was working on it, that he constantly brought the matter up with his wife and that she just wasn’t quite ready to let him go, but to rest assured that it would be soon.
Alone over the holidays for yet another year, Deb knew she had to do something. Shortly after New Year’s she called the wife one day and said something like “We both love him, I know. But if you really loved him as much as I do, you would let him go and find his happiness.”
The wife hung up on Deb, then called back about an hour later for some details.
When hubby arrived home in his Mercedes that evening, the wife smacked him over the head with a shovel.
He needed about a hundred stitches, immediately had Deb transferred to another division in the company and never spoke to her again.

What the sexual revolution wrought

While it's common for single women who are sleeping with married men to issue ultimatums, I still think the blond intern's move was audacious. Call me old-fashioned. Here you have a much older man with a wife of 30 years and a child, and this young cupcake DEMANDS that he leave them. Where do these women get the chutzpah to heedlessly, selfishly -- even self-righteously -- trample all over other people's families that way? Whatever happened to guilt?

Don't get me wrong: the men who leave their families for these women are the real villains of the story. It's not new for single women to give married lovers ultimatums, but their married lovers didn't always follow them so easily. In the 1950s, when divorce was so unthinkable that people used the expression "broken home" and I grew up not knowing a single child in that situation, I think married men (and women too, but fewer) had affairs. And that their lovers issued ultimatums now and then. But when push came to shove, most men ended the affair and stayed with the family. They weren't saints, but people didn't blithely walk away from marriages and destroy families back then.

Today the opposite is true. As the "me" generation grew up and instant gratification served to legitimize every whim, the divorce rate soared. My kids knew plenty of little classmates in grade-school whose parents were divorced, and the numbers multiplied as they passed through middle school, high school and college. So it's come to this: young single women indignantly issue ultimatums, and married men don't deliberate for long. They walk, entitled and self-justified, leaving the wreckage of a family behind and rarely looking back. Let's get something straight: the sexual revolution was not a boon to women.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Silver Lining? Make That Lying.

Gina and Patti really are horrendous women. You counted on Patti to be there for you as your sister-in- law and your daughter thought Patti was her loving aunt, but she certainly showed her true self. And, April is certainly better off without a friend like Gina, that turncoat.

Sally never had a really close friend betray her during her divorce, but she did learn the hard way that some so-called friends are just plain scummy.
Sally and her then-husband Clark were friendly with a couple, the Silvers, Don and Fran. Fran was totally boring, had a drippy personality and whined as a matter of course. Plus she had a wicked bad nose job. Although Sally’s friends all mimicked Fran’s nasal moan, Sally tolerated her and even grew to like her, at least somewhat. Don was a flirt and always seemed smarmy, but he was Clark’s friend and Sally went along with the program, uncomplainingly spending as much time with the Silvers as Clark wanted.

Don and Fran had met in graduate school, each already married to someone else. Fran’s marriage was starting to unravel. Don was happily married to Iris. One long study session led to another, and soon Don left Iris for Fran. Don’s mother and sister were angry and blamed Fran, but in a short time accepted her as family especially since she became pregnant immediately.

Fast forward several years. Clark and Don worked with a young blonde intern who had eyes only for married men. After breaking off a long relationship with an older married man, her attentions turned to ready, willing and able Clark. For six years, they kept their romance pretty much under the radar. As a matter of fact, the only people who really knew about it were Don and Fran. The lovey-dovey couple were invited to dinners at the Silvers' so they wouldn’t be seen out in public together at a restaurant. And the Silvers often loaned the lovers their lakeside country house for secret getaways.

The intern eventually decided it was time settle down and gave Clark an ultimatum. He broke the news to his wife and kid--he just needed a little time alone. Two months later, he was engaged. As he was packing his bags, Sally begged him to work on the marriage for the sake of the family, and finally he gave it all up—the six year affair, the golden moments sponsored by the Silvers.

The Silvers? Sally was so shocked. How could the Silvers have shared dinners and birthdays and vacations with her while secretly harboring Clark’s “other life”? And for six years?!

When Sally recently bumped into Don and Fran at a wake, Fran said “ It has been so long. I don’t know why you stopped calling me, but let’s get together soon.”

Yuh. Right.

"Friends" who think they can be like Switzerland

A good friend can't be neutral in such cases. Even worse are those who, like Gina, purport to be neutral but actually take sides.

In my marriage, my husband had an affair with a much younger woman who, like him, was married with two kids. This woman was clearly a gold-digger, as evidenced by the fact that she introduced herself to him by walking up to my pudgy, balding, 55-year-old then-husband amidst a room full of 30-something dudes and declaring, "You are the most beautiful man I have ever seen in my life." Enough said.

My husband left major evidence of the affair around for the kids to find, then warned them, "Don't tell your mother about this or you'll blow up the marriage." Of course, I eventually found out on my own, and the marriage blew up, devastating both kids and everybody in the extended family.

My sister-in-law Patti (wife of my ex's brother) and I had always been close and enjoyed each other's company. When this happened, Patti was appalled and expressed support and commiseration via email. But before long she stopped communicating and I noticed photos on my mother-in-law's fridge of the four of them -- my ex, his new babe, his brother and Patti -- laughing uproariously while splashing down an amusement-park water ride. My daughter graduated from college six months later and didn't receive so much as a card or call from Patti and her husband. The following June, a full year after my daughter's graduation, Patti sent her a "Happy Graduation" card with a note that explained, "I'm not sure when you graduated but I found this card among my stuff. I guess I meant to send it earlier, but due to your parents' messy divorce, I didn't want to get in the middle. [By sending her niece a graduation card?] In any event, I've moved beyond the divorce now and think it's time for you to do the same."

I'll repeat: enough said.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Et Tu Brutus- the Unkindest Cut of All

April’s former best friend Gina is the worst sort of Friendly Enemy I’ve ever heard of!!!
April and her husband Patrick hung out all the time with Gina and her morbidly obese husband Max. Their kids all grew up thinking of each other as extended family. Despite her Frida Kahlo unibrow, Gina is a forty-something beauty who looks better than ever now that she took off a stone as the Brits say—on Atkins. Not an easy diet for someone who regularly whips up huge trays of lasagna for her 4-person family.
When April’s mother recently passed away, Gina showed up every night of shiveh with a different Italian delight from tiramisu to baked ziti. April felt blessed to have a best friend like Gina for the past sixteen years. She confided everything to Gina including Patrick’s recent infidelities with Shari, a neighbor.
As the marriage deteriorated and Patrick continued his dalliance with Shari, April had to give him the boot. It was too demeaning for April to keep trying to ignore the affair once their son and his friends had spotted Patrick’s car in Shari’s driveway at 2 am.
A few days after Patrick left with his suitcase and the Mixmaster--he refused to leave without it--April had a call from Gina. She and Max had been out to dinner with Patrick and Shari, and Gina called to report, “She doesn’t look so hot to me. She’s crazy short and she kind of resembles Bob Hope. She has a Dr. Diamond nose. She looks sixty five in dim light--who knows how she looks when it’s brighter.”
After Patrick was out of the house, April hibernated in pain for weeks. Understandable, since within a short time span she lost her mother, and simultaneously her husband was carrying on in a public way with a neighbor. When she was ready to emerge again, she began to realize she hadn’t heard from Gina in what seemed like forever. She called several times and received no reply. She dashed off a “hi-how-are-ya” email to Gina and again nothing in response.
A couple of months later, not sure what she could possibly have done to Gina, April got a shock. Her son came home from a dinner at Max and Gina's. His dad had been there with Shari and her tots. After dessert, Gina had taken April’s son aside and said, “Tell your mom when the divorce is all over, I’ll call her. Until then, I can’t get in the middle. She should understand.”


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Frienemies and fair-weather friends

That's a primal taboo: don't go out with your friend's boyfriend or ex-boyfriend. As previously described on this blog, I was a victim of that violation: a frienemy dated and slept with a guy I had been seeing; he and I hadn't even broken up! I was surprised when I told the story to a friend, who passed it by her 30-year-old daughter. The daughter said that if the relationship is over, the guy is fair game. Maybe so, but you will definitely lose that female friend, and as we all know, female friendships usually outlive boyfriends.

Here's a subset of that kind of behavior in that it too prizes boyfriends over female friends, though it's nowhere near as hurtful. I have a friend who got separated around the same time I did. At the beginning, when we were both shell shocked and needed an empathetic ear, we spent a fair amount of time together. But I soon realized that this woman requires a boyfriend at all times. Not to have one, for her, would be like going without food. It's her sustenance. Her pattern is to go on, meet four or five guys, and within a week or so get deeply involved with one of them. During the involvement she might drop me an email about how great her new bf is, but otherwise I wouldn't hear from her. Eventually though, whether after four months or a year, the bf would dump her and she'd be broken-hearted. Then, just like that mole arcade game -- where the irrepressible mole keeps popping up no matter how many times you pound it down -- she would immediately reappear on match and begin the whole process over again.

This pattern has been going on for the past five years, leaving her with periodic two- or three-week gaps between boyfriends. It is during these breaks that she resurfaces in my life and is suddenly interested in my company. The instant her next relationship sparks -- and that never takes long -- she disappears again. The only exceptions are when the boyfriend-du-jour is out of town, in which case she will occasionally call and offer to get together.

This isn't frienemy behavior -- in fact, she is not the type to date a friend's boyfriend -- but it is fair-weather-friend behavior, and she makes her priorities clear. Consequently, I made a mental note to demote her from former friend to current acquaintance whom I'd see out of boredom and only if convenient. Oddly, though she operated that way herself, she apparently had a different view of our relationship. So when the last boyfriend kicked her out of the apartment they shared and she found herself temporarily homeless, she called to ask if she could bunk with me for a while. I was amazed that I was the first person she called, because if I found myself in similar straits, I would have called at least eight other female friends before I'd think to call her. Needless to say, she was angry when I let her stay for a night but declined to house her for longer. What she didn't understand is that I felt no loyalty to her because she had done nothing to engender it.

Moral of the story: Don't take your female friends for granted. Girlfriend relationships need tending too, just like relationships with guys. Especially because in the end, it's your girlfriends whom you will turn to.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Is Your New BFF Really Your Frenemy?

Remember when Hillary was in the presidential race? Her girlfriends were here,there and everywhere with testimonials about what a solid, reliable, giving friend and mother she is. Have you noticed that not one Sarah Palin girlfriend has surfaced? No woman who knows her well, other than her sister, has said anything positive about her character. Uh-oh. We know what that means. She’s probably a frenemy type.
Here’s a frenemy story straight from my office. A few years ago, Marisol worked with us. She was smart, attractive and tough. She came from Puerto Rico with her two kids and raised them as a single mom while also caring for her mentally ill, verbally abusive mother. We all admired her fortitude.
Jacki sat in the next cubicle. Originally from London, she too was an immigrant far from her extended family and raising a child alone. They quickly became close friends. Jacki often cooked for Marisol and her kids and treated them all as family.
Back in London, Jacki had been in love with Walter. They had lasted as a couple several years after her move to New York, but over the years, distance faded the relationship into more of a friendship than a romance. Walter continued to visit Jacki two or three times a year and she often would throw a party during his stay. At one of these parties, Marisol and Walter spent the entire evening in deep conversation with each other. Walter returned to England and Jacki and he continued as always to e mail frequently. A month later, Jacki noticed a photo of Walter on Marisol's bulletin board. In tears, Jacki confronted Marisol who replied that she and Walter were in love and that Jacki had no right to care since she and Walter had broken up years before.
Rule #1 in girlfriend etiquette is never,ever go out with your bff’s ex. Ever. Who doesn’t know that?!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bad things happen to bad ex-husbands

he is apparently holding out for a piece of his wife's inheritance, and the lawn chair remains a mystery, except I think it was a ploy for him to duck out of the mediator's settlement if he needed an excuse. It's messed up that Massachusetts considers an inheritance to be joint property; in NY it's off the table and not subject to division.

I still believe, naively perhaps, that what goes around comes around. I think Mitch and the midget will ultimately make each other miserable, I really do. And Linda, I think that your ex will wind up old and miserable, because in a decade or so, his ridiculously young wife will not want to change his Depends or help him with his walker, and also, praised be, he will be paying at least one and possibly two college tuitions when he's in his 80s, which means he can never retire, or if he does, that he will be poor. YAY!! And I cannot believe that my ex will ultimately be happy with his new wife, who he once described as "very needy, very depressive, very fragile." Not to mention a serial adulterer. Fun!

I never gave the upshot of my bf's views on shaved pubic hair vs. full bush, and thong vs. bikini panties. Pubic hair: he's indifferent, either way is fine; panties: likes thongs a little better but bikinis are nice for variety.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Sociopath and the Lawn Chair

Mitchell,that sociopathic creep,has now pulled out all the stops in his War of the Roses divorce performance. Read on:
A couple of weeks ago, Mitchell, his wife and their respective attorneys were required by the judge overseeing their case to meet with a third lawyer, a female court-appointed mediator. The mediator came up with a settlement plan. The wife was ready to settle.

Not to be told what to do by any woman, Mitchell’s attorney produced his own different settlement plan. The wife remained eager to settle and accepted that plan as well. Then Mitchell’s attorney came up with a three page single-spaced laundry list of addendums including the china, the crystal, the wife’s mother’s piano, even the lawn furniture. Plus he wanted to put a lien on the house. The wife then consulted her accountant and learned that she could in no way financially afford to accept Mitchell’s lawyer’s plan. She would need to revert to the mediator’s plan. All fine with her--she just wants to escape from this onslaught and get on with her life.

Mitchell’s attorney verbally agreed with the wife’s attorney that they would go to court this week and accept the mediator’s plan. Mitchell would drop his laundry list of demands,except for the Adirondack lawn chair. Without that chair, it would be no deal for Mitchell. The wife’s attorney could not fathom what would be so valuable about a lawn chair but she presented the offer to her client. The wife readily agreed, also wondering what could be so meaningful about the lawn chair.

Lo and behold, the next morning the lawn chair was mysteriously missing from the place it had occupied in the yard for the past five years. Someone had stolen a hundred pound used wooden chair in a rural neighborhood where people leave pricey racing bikes lying out on their lawns and hardly anyone locks their doors. Mitchell’s wife reported the theft to the town police wondering who the heck would want to steal a lawn chair.

A day later, Mitchell, the wife, and their attorneys all returned to court. The wife and her attorney were certain that they had reached a settlement. After all, Mitchell’s attorney had verbally agreed to one. As they arrived in court, Mitchell’s attorney produced a 500 page document calling for every bit of information about the wife’s recently deceased mother’s estate. There would be no settlement. Not when Mitchell could try one last time to get his hands on some of his wife’s upcoming inheritance. Mitchell’s attorney has now asked the court for a four month delay in the trial date. The attorney claimed that he would be involved with devoutly observing the Jewish holidays for the next two months and unable to work. In reality, he is delaying in hopes that the wife’s mother’s estate will be forced to be settled before the new court date.

And who stole the lawn chair? Most people think it was Mitchell, but where would he put it? In his apartment? On his girlfriend X’s lawn? And why?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

And now for the good news

That is beyond the pale, and the fact that it's a common, even recognizable ploy is sickening. I suppose that Barbara's reticence about her husband's motives is commendable, but geez, I'd be tempted to level with the child, especially in light of the recent car debacle. Maybe the girl will realize that two plus two equals scumbag, a sad realization but one that seems long overdue.

While that man and his midget continue to do evil and get away with it, I was comforted by a new study, described in today's New York Times, which found that older fathers are more likely to produce offspring who develop bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and autism. What's more, the risk is highest among fathers 55 and older. This should give pause to those start-over dads who are just getting their second wind with fertile second wives. They can't have IT ALL. I can certainly think of one elderly dad who should read it.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

How Low Can He Go?

Add this one to the “And you call yourself a decent parent” listings.
Barbara received a phone call the other day from the HR office of her daughter Megan’s summer employer, a large national discount chain. Megan, a college student, began working as a weekend and summer cashier in high school and over time has graduated to a summer office job. The HR director wanted to check something out with Barbara. HR had received a letter requesting a complete accounting “for Megan’s parents” of all the hours she worked this past summer plus an estimate on the hours and pay she will be offered over the next three years. Before fulfilling this request, the HR director decided to check with Barbara because the letter requested that the information be sent to an address which did not match the home address on Megan’s employment forms.
Barbara was surprised and knew nothing about this. She suggested that HR call Megan directly to see if this was something she needed for school. The HR director said that she preferred if Barbara would call Megan and then for either Megan or Barbara to get back to her to let her know whether or not to release this information. Barbara asked for the address to which this information was to be sent, and learned that the request came from the Law Office of Mendel R_____. Her heart stopped. Barbara and her soon-to-be-ex are locked in very bitter, contested divorce proceedings--especially with regard to child support-- and this request had come from the ex’s attorney.
The HR director said that she had called because she was hesitant to fulfill the request. For many years, she has been in charge of tens of thousands of employees, many of them teenagers, and she felt, in her words, that “this smelled familiar and fishy”. She elaborated: this sort of information is used all the time in divorce cases and is designed to hurt the child by cutting down on parental support. The more the child earns, the harder he or she works, the more he/she stands to lose when these parents bring this evidence to court.
Barbara called Megan and, as always, held back on saying anything bad about Megan’s dad. She asked if Megan was aware that this request was being made, and Megan said her dad had told her he needed her work information so he could save her some money on her taxes. Barbara gently told Megan that the HR people felt it wasn’t a good idea to share this information with anyone. Barbara asked Megan to call and tell HR that no information should be released unless Megan specifically wanted it. Megan agreed that this was a good idea but felt she couldn’t call and ask for this herself. She wanted her mom to do it. When Barbara called HR back, the director said it’s common for kids not to be able to assert this right directly because it feels as if they are being disloyal to their parent even though they are fully aware that the parent is not being honest with them.
I vote for Megan’s dad for scummiest parent since Joel Steinberg.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Punishing the bad spouse

If there's a tiny silver lining to that horrendous story, it's that the daughter's eyes have opened about her father, and she might support her mother in the divorce litigation and be more understanding of her point of view.

One thing -- judges don't award settlements based on egregious or immoral spousal behavior. A recent etiquette column in the NY Times featured a woman from Manhattan who wrote: "My husband of 27 years and I are divorcing; he left me for a woman young enough to be our daughter. He is bringing her to our beach club, where he gropes and fondles her like an adolescent. It's disgusting and humiliating for our children and me. I asked him to take his tramp elsewhere, but he refused. What should I do?"

Nauseating. The columnist advised that she steer clear of the club until the divorce comes through, reassuring her that because of her husband's creepy behavior, "the club membership, as well as the house and most of the larger bank accounts, will soon be yours anyway."

Unfortunately, that's not true. Judges divide property and award alimony based on financial "fairness" and state law -- equitable distribution in NY, 50/50 split in California, etc. They don't use the settlement as a way to "punish" bad spousal behavior. I learned this from my own divorce lawyer, to my disappointment. I and many other women (and some men, like X's exes) would have done a lot better if judges were more judgmental.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Rude Awakening

The key difference between X and Mitchell is that she makes sure her kids are taken care of. By all of her husbands. And boyfriends. Their dad paid for college, camp and all the extras--S.A.T. tutoring, French Horn lessons etc. The shoe guy bought them each a new BMW and took them to France. X made sure that each of her kids had a private suite in the dream house she built with shoe guy. And she designed her kids’ suites to be so large that she just never had the spare room for shoe guy’s kids by his first marriage to stay overnight.
Shoe guy, like Mitch, abandoned his kids for the siren charms of X. Though we know she’s technically a midget, her impact on families is no small matter. And X is so ingratiating with her husbands’ and boyfriends’ kids that they actually like her. She buys them Miu-Miu handbags and the latest Prada perfume using her Nieman Marcus discount--she works 8 hours a week as a personal shopper.
Mitchell also ingratiates himself with the kids. He supplies X’s daughters with Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics play-off tickets for all their friends. But, he makes no basic provisions for his only child. Where X insisted on palatial rooms for her kids, Mitch only has space for his daughter in his apartment if there’s a night when X can’t be there because she needs to be at home with her children or she has her Kabbalah meeting.
I think the kid is starting to catch on, though. After her beat up jalopy exploded and her dad left her shaken and alone in his apartment to go re-join X's party, his daughter insisted to her mother, “There has got to be some way you can use this in divorce court, Mom, and you’d better find it. It’s just so wrong.”

Back to Basics

Returning to your query, Sue,the bf's response was that Brazilian waxing is great because change is exciting.
And re thongs v.bikinis, he replied,"Well, if you're willing to remove all your hair, why not forego underwear entirely?"

Somehow,I'm not sure this will be helpful in your quandry.

Scumbag of the Century

That is a sad story. You're right -- he is worse than X because this is HIS child, and she should be HIS priority, not X's. Unfortunately, I have heard similar stories before -- not as dramatic as this one, but yes, of fathers who put their children second to the squeeze du jour. And if anyone is du jour, it is X, who is constantly on the lookout for the next moneyed conquest. Mitch's daughter, on the other hand, will always be there, and will always love him despite his indifference, if not more so because of it.

I'm sure such examples come quickly to mind, L! I recall a guy who left his wife and their adorable four-year-old daughter for a high-school flame whom he ran into and eventually married. This guy made a lot of money writing scripts for major national television shows. The wife he left was a humble school teacher in New York City. Years after their divorce, when the daughter was 16 years old, he informed them that he would not pay for her college education, indignantly claiming that "going to college is not a God-given right." By the way, this man never had to lay out a dime for his daughter's private-school tuition through lower and upper school because the child got a free education at the school where her mother taught. As for college, the girl had to take out loans, with her mother paying for the rest.

But what is the story with Mitch's wife's lawyer? It seems to me that Mitch's 2008 Lexus vs. his dwindling clientele should be explored in a deposition, accompanied by threats of litigation and a forensic accountant. And have the scales come off his daughter's eyes yet, or is she still blindly devoted to dear old Dad? On some level -- whether in the settlement or through his relationship with his only child -- this man must pay. Either that, or I hope X gives him the clap -- an antibiotic-resistant strain!