Where’s Waldo? I’ll See You in Court  —  or Not

Female judge sitting at the bench with glasses in her hand
Getting divorced alone is a stone cold trip.

Have you ever known anyone who got a divorce from a runaway spouse on the grounds of abandonment? Well, take it from someone who has; it’s a stone-cold trip.

Now You See Me, Now You Don’t

One year my husband was feeling froggy and took up with a new woman for my Valentine’s Day present. He ghosted me, but not until after he cleared out our savings and closed our joint credit cards. No notice, no explanation — just gone.

So, what was I  —  the jilted wife  —  supposed to do but stand there and look like a chump?

He made a clean getaway, becoming unreachable and untouchable  —  securely tucked away with his paramour on another continent. Making matters worse, I had no known forwarding address or other kind of contact info for him. Lovely.

When he’d been MIA for almost a year, clergy and legal counsel suggested that I protect myself from further joint liability by filing for divorce. However, all I knew for was that my Runaway Romeo was hanging out in East Asia, in a teeny-tiny town of 19 million people who speak Marathi and Hindi..

Well, that certainly narrowed things down and made it easy, eh? I was going to have to think outside the box.

A Different Approach ….

When I visited a divorce attorney, he told me that our divorce would differ from most. Even though Dear Darling was the one who started this whole thing by doing his boot-scooting-boogie, I was going to have to be the one to jump through a few hoops in order to get our affairs separated.

In other words, I had to prove that I made sufficient ‘good-faith efforts’ to locate him before divorcing him.

This involved:

  • Putting notices in newspapers where he was known to have resided last. (Check.)
  • Publishing notices where I thought he might be currently living. (Check.)
  • Sending notices to his family members and last known acquaintances. (Check.)

Yay me! Even more fun! Let’s broadcast the humiliation!

My attorney said he would be also be sending a copy of the divorce notification to his affair partner at her said workplace overseas.

Raising The Dead

It was amazing. Dear Darling called me immediately once formal notification of our pending divorce showed up at New Woman’s place of employment in HindiLand.

With his ego insulted, he’d taken umbrage and called to express how surprised he was that I would take such ‘drastic measures’ so soon. After all, he’d only been gone ten months with no communication. Why was I in such a rush?

Even though I was still grieving and crying over him, my humor did manage to make its way to the surface now and then. His theatrical fake indignation was one of those moments.

C’mon. Did he honestly see his disappearance as some extended test drive before buying a new car? Did he think I would casually wait out this time apart to give him ample time to make a final determination whether he wanted the Honda or the Toyota?..

Had his phonograph needle skipped that any grooves? Did he see himself as a new age polygamist getting a jump on a new harem? Well, butter my biscuits and call me clairvoyant because I knew the answer to that one. It wasn’t up to him anymore.

Please Approach The Bench

It was a beautiful sunny day in early January when I was scheduled to appear in Domestic Relations Court to finalize our divorce  —  alone.

At the appointed time on the court docket, our case was called aloud, “Divorce case number 666 … Mrs. Humpty Dumpty (The Chump-ee) vs. Mr. Meany Houdini.”

Accompanied by my attorney, I walked to the front of the hearing room and stood quietly before the judge’s bench.

Her eyes quizzically darted around the courtroom, She lowered her head and furrowed her brows, expecting Mr. Houdini to step forward and approach the bench as well.

When this didn’t happen, she appeared puzzled and visibly annoyed. After all, there were conspicuous signs posted all around the courthouse walls about being on time for court.

My attorney leaned in and whispered to the judge, “In Absentia, Your Honor … on the grounds of desertion.” “Oh, I see …” said the judge.

Reviewing The Documentation

As would only happen to me in such circumstances, just when everything was supposed to be serious and business-like, Murphy came breathlessly bursting through the courtroom doors and ran up to join us for the festivities.

After an extended period of shuffling of paperwork, the judge discovered that my attorney’s office had submitted the wrong divorce petition forms! So instead of it being a Kramer-vs-Kramer proceeding, it was just me  – - and my sidekick Murphy.

Sensing my concern, the judge spoke up and advised me not to worry. Then —  and I kid you not!  — she whipped out a bottle of liquid White Out and began making her corrections on the forms. In ballpoint pen, no less! In her handwriting, she added the following note: ‘Said defendant does not present due to having absconded to India with his paramour.’

Apology Accepted

I honestly didn’t know what to make of this keystone-cops-esque kind of legal proceeding.

The judge looked sheepishly at me from under her reading glasses and apologized. “I’m sorry.” she said. “I don’t do these kinds of divorces very often.”

And don’t you know it, before I had time to think, my humor imp Erma (determined not to be outdone by Murphy’s unannounced arrival) piped up and answered for me, blurting out: “Well, neither do I, Your Honor.”

The judge paused for a moment and then chuckled at my use of humor in what was obviously an awkward situation.

She then turned to her right, picked up the microphone, and began dictating her ‘Let the record show’… formalities.

With that concluded, she signed and handed to me what would soon become my very odd-looking — yet still very official — set of divorce papers.

Well, Wasn’t That Fun?

My attorney accompanied me to an adjacent room, where he stood alongside me long enough to ensure that the original decree was time-stamped and logged into the court’s archival system. He then rushed off to meet his next divorcing couple.

After purchasing several notarized copies of my divorce papers for my records, I headed home.

I walked to the nearest elevator, pushed the button, and stepped into am empty elevator.

As the door closed for my ride back down to the main floor, I paused for a short moment of reflection. My attempt at introspection was cut short when the bell dinged. The elevator doors opened to welcome a fresh crop of couples rushing upstairs for their appointments with destiny in the Domestic Relations courtroom.

As I got pushed into the corner by the crowd filling the elevator, I mentally asked myself, “So what have you learned, dear? And what are you going to do now?”

The elevator bell dinged several more times; various people entered and exited at their intended floors. Soon, I was at the parking level.

Using the divorce papers I’d rolled into a scroll during my ride, I emphatically hit the elevator door on the way out , and answered my mental question out loud: “What I’m going to do is live single the rest of my life and be happy. That’s what I’m going to do!”

Playing Right To The Script

When all was said and done, something occurred to me. I realized that even though I’d been the plaintiff initiating the divorce, I, once gain, had been skillfully manipulated. Like a good Pollyanna, I had done what was expected of me. I stayed on script, doing the dirty work for the affairing couple by being the one to initiate the divorce.

Yup, I helped them fulfill their grand plan.

Dear Darling got to legally and formally rid himself of me without having to get his hands dirty — and without spending one dime in legal fees!

Dear Darling had lived with me for almost three decades; he had ample time to study me. I’m an open book. He knew that, being an administrator by trade, continued inaction on his part would trigger action on my part. He knew that I’d step up, play the responsible role, and get the divorce for him. No doubt he probably tells people, “Hey, she was the one that divorced me!”

It doesn’t matter; I don’t care what he does — I’ve moved on. As a Christian, I know we’ll all be present for another court appearance, and in that court, everyone’s motives and objectives  will be made known ‘for the record’ — and for all to see (including my own).

People make mistakes. His mistake was leaving the way he did. My my mistake was marrying him in the first place.

Shrug. I guess you call that a zero-sum gain.

Sign on divorce lawyer's door that reads Ditcher Quick and Hyde

Closing Remarks

Abandonment … desertion … dropping the shovel to run … call it what you will. The bottom line is that, out of the blue, Dearest Darling made a unilateral decision to put an end to an epoch of my life , without my permission or input. My only choice was to deal with it and keep on living.

Well, enough of that. There’s no need to let a good tragedy go to waste when you’re a humorist, right? In the end, Dear Darling accomplished his goal, so at least someone had a good outcome.

My positive takeaway is that time passes we adapt and become wiser. And best of all, if we’re one of the lucky ones, we find a lot of funny stuff to write about.

When I got back to my car and was using my clicker to open the doors of my vehicle, my humor imp Erma Erma got the last word. She very lovingly lobbed a snark attack, mentioning that even though my (now ex) husband hadn’t even shown up for court, he did have the better attorneys.

It’s all good.

Remember folks … ‘Sometimes You Just Gotta Laugh’

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Fifty ways to leave your lover
You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don’t need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don’t need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free

WRITERS: Paul Simon
SME; UNIAO BRASILEIRA DE EDITORAS DE MUSICA – UBEM, LatinAutor – SonyATV, CMRRA, LatinAutor – Warner Chappell, Sony Music Publishing, LatinAutor, LatinAutorPerf, and 12 Music Rights Societies


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