Usually, when two people get divorced, the time they spend together is reduced. Of course, if they have children, there will be events that bring them together. Graduations, birthdays, family milestones where divorced parents must occupy the same space. Usually, they are few and far between. For my ex-wife, Arlene, and I, they happen far more often than that.
Or, to quote The Godfather, and Michael’s ill-fated Sicilian bride, Apollonia, ‘Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, Saturday.’
Okay, maybe not every day, but, for a divorced couple, we do spend a lot of time together. Most often, it is when we have dinner with our kids. However, she has been invited to my family’s events, and I’ve been invited to her’s. Her one brother, Jeffrey, once called me his favorite member of his family (and this was after my divorce).
The problem is, when I’m out with my ex and her family, and I come across a woman I would like to meet, it gets a bit awkward.
For example, I called Arlene one Sunday to see if she and Alexander (son) wanted to grab dinner. Alexander wanted Chinese so, of course, we decide to get Chinese. I drove over to Arlene’s house; she called in the order, then the two of us drove to pick up the food.
The only two people in the restaurant, we wait for the order. I’m standing by the entrance when a woman comes to the door and tries to get in, but I inadvertently blocked her. We have a momentary dance as she glides around me. Now it’s the three of us in the lobby. This woman has my look. By that, I mean, I can see a hundred faces, but only one will catch my eye.
She caught my eye.
No ring on her left hand. I spotted that before she even entered the restaurant. Basically, when men get divorced, they acquire a sixth sense. They may not be able to find the ketchup in an open refrigerator, but they will be able to spot a naked ring finger at fifty-yards.
The three of us make idle small talk, I make her laugh, but in my head, I’m thinking of ways to nonchalantly drop that this is my ex-wife.
Nothing comes to mind as they hand her order to her, she smiles, I hold the door open for her, and she is gone.
Then there was this. This past weekend, Arlene tells me they are going to grab dinner with two of her sisters-in-law, and that I am more than welcome to join them.
That night I found myself with Arlene, her boyfriend (fiancé, but never any actual talk of marriage so who knows), and two sisters-in-law, in the bar of this nice old pub, having drinks while we wait for a table. In the crowded room, we secure a section at the end of the bar. At one table I see a single woman, tall, black-hair, ripped jeans, and an interesting jacket and shirt. An artsy look that I like.
Over the course of the hour, I steal glances; she was there alone but stared at her phone. Probably waiting for someone. We order more drinks, the bar starts to clear out, and this woman moves from the table to the seat next to Arlene at the bar.
It would be so helpful if I could just go up to her and explain the dynamics of the group. That I wasn’t a couple with anyone here, and that I would like to buy her a drink. It doesn’t help that while I was contemplating a move, Arlene asks me to buy her a drink. Her boyfriend (fiancé) is standing right there, why are you asking me?
I lean in between said woman and Arlene and order our drinks.
Over the next few minutes, I notice she turns to look back at us. Ego tells me she is looking at me; reality tells me we are just a loud group.
With my drink on the bar, I reach for it with my fingers spread wide, like I’m palming a basketball, hoping she sees no wedding ring on my left hand.
Hopes dwindle as I see she asks for her tab (wow, just realized how stalky I am). In no time she is up and out of the bar.
In all honesty, I’m not good at approaching women in bars. If not for Arlene’s invite, I would have just been sitting home that night.
But, it is awkward when I am in a situation, where Arlene is around, and there is someone I would like to get to know.
Maybe next time we do go out, I should wear a t-shirt that states, “I’m NOT with her.”