I’m a big believer in personal space. When Bridget hangs on to my chair when we are looking at something on the computer, I am physically disturbed. It upsets her that I get upset, and as much as I’d like to, I just can’t help it. My space is my space and when people invade it my back gets up.
I find it curious that I can I tell my kid to back off, but I can’t do the same when men don’t respect the boundaries of their own marriages? Recently my friend and I were at a party where we were the only single women in a sea of committed couples. For the most part, it was smooth sailing, with the exception of one louse of a spouse.
I was reminded of that evening yesterday when Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx told a story about how women accept what’s put in front of them instead of ordering what we really want.
She spoke of a friend whose ability to order food is similar to Meg Ryan playing Sally in Harry Met Sally and how at every brunch they share together the friend starts off a very special and precise order. One day Foxx had an epiphany: Her friend without fail received exactly what she wanted! She neither spent the afternoon bloated and feeling gross because she ate a dish that she neither wanted or knew would not agree with her. Her friend always ordered what she wanted, because of which she always enjoyed what was returned.
The brunch story resonates with me because as women, yes we can make lemonade out of lemons, but we also accept a pile of shit when its shoveled in front of us. How often do we say, no thank you, I’m not accepting shit today, or I’d like my lemon peeled and seeded?
What does this have to do with a married man? Well, since I have been divorced on more than one occasion the wife of her too friendly and blissfully ignorant about personal space spouse swooped in to let me know that I needed to move on even when I never moved in. I had no interest in her louse of a spouse, from whose conversation I had futilely tried to extricate myself from for a good deal of time.
Three things are important about this experience.
- In both cases, I should have been more assertive and gotten out of the conversation as soon I sensed his body language and proximity to me change. His ability to continue a conversation that should have ended two and three times over was another red flag. But the Miss Manners in me kept going. I didn’t want the lemons, I didn’t want to make lemonade, the only thing I wanted was an exit, but I didn’t ask for the check.
- And the wife swooping in was only treating the symptom, not the problem. Yes as a former wife I can relate to believing the lesser of the two evils, and that the woman was flirting with my husband because dealing with the greater evil is a shit ton of work, and probably doesn’t end well.
- The husband was a douchebag. I wasn’t his only target, nor will I be his last. He humiliated his wife. Who does that? Every time she loosened the leash he was out once again like a stud looking for his bitch in heat. The problem is there weren’t any bitches.
I don’t like thinking of myself as a threat. And I don’t like feeling like a husband snatcher. The behavior of these wives was justified. It’s innate in women. We protect our young, our tribe, even our louse of a spouse. I did it for many years. I didn’t have to swoop in to ward off predators, but I had my share of humiliation through other acts. It only stopped when I decided to treat the problem, not its symptoms.
Make no mistake, I am not blaming the wife here. The louse of the spouse is the one whose behavior is despicable. Someone might say just like the maternal instinct to protect is natural, so too is a man wanting to nail his next bitch. I disagree because, despite the metaphors, humans are not canines. We have a brain that distinguishes us from other species in the animal kingdom. The husband is the only louse/ douchebag in this story.
This personal space topic was front of mind this morning because later this afternoon I am heading to a friend’s to pick up a mattress set. It will help me make my ex-husband’s room into a true guest room (during our marriage we always had a “guest room” that served the other 345 days of the year as his room). That bedroom has become a dumping ground and taking up my personal space. It’s high time to discard the shit ton of bad juju that hangs over the room. I’m grateful to Kim Foxx for her brunch story and the louses who helped me realize that when you accept things that you neither want or order, your desserts are justly deserved. And, I enjoy ordering and eating dessert. I can’t make space in my life for that shit anymore.
P.S. When I went to find a clip to embed from when Harry Met Sally, I came across this one. Valentine’s Day is the focus of week’s episode on This American Life. Yesterday I heard a snippet of the Act in which one of the show’s producers said he didn’t think he could date anyone a woman who didn’t like the movie. I agree with him (though in my case I would be dating a man). I have some homework to do: Watch Harry Met Sally for the 20th time and listen to this week’s episode of This American Life.