Archive for August, 2009


Monday, August 3rd, 2009

Picture Steve Martin in “Father Of The Bride”, but sans the wedding ring. That’s how I felt at my baby’s bridal shower. All smiles and yet there is a subtlety to being Divorced FOB that perhaps only severed dads can appreciate.

The afternoon went smoothly as my job was simple: show up at the end with the would-be groom, back off for the meet ‘n greet, and then load presents in the car. Frankly, I handled all chores with aplomb: Got Jason to the right door, had coffee with Michael on the outside patio, and then monitored the assembly line of people carrying bags and boxes, all the while picking up nary a one—deftly directing all parcels into a variety of cars, none of which was mine.

Oh, and along the way, I renewed (if only for one moment in time), some acquaintances.

Stacy had a big turnout—family and friends from all over. This can be attributed to one of two reasons: either because a) she is loved, or b) because her mother keeps a list. Anyway, people showed up.

I watched with joy as my little one’s youthful smile dominated; she looked every bit as happy as she was. Of course, as the throng exited I was lost in a confetti of faces from my first life.

As my mother-in-law would remind, “Family first.”

May, 1970. Passaic, New Jersey. Jackie Selzer’s Sweet Sixteen. It was that weekend that I met the entourage I would marry. And it was then and there that I noticed they all spoke a foreign language, (graciously identified as a “New York accent”). (Ed. Note: Adonay is Adonoy,–as in oyyyyy etc.).

Over the years the canvas of my past included nothing, and I mean nothing, but fond memories of this clan. It was consistently family-oriented, as somehow they seemed to come out of the woodwork for each life cycle event. Be it a wedding in Montreal, a reunion in the Catskills, or a simcha in Farrell, Pa, the bags got packed, the vehicles were loaded and the uncles and aunts, cousins and infants, books and games were transported to the next conglomerate of hugs and kisses.

Forty years later, with a few extra wrinkles, the warmth has been sustained.
Lee, Ernie and Leslie, Alan and Beverly. Joel, Fran and the kids. The Traveling Wilburys continue to roll. And Uncle Ernie even gave me a pen.

The reunion with the First Wives Club was fascinating in a different way.

It is a well-settled tenet of Jewish law that upon divorce, coupled friends are awarded to the Wife; our dissolution was no different. This is no slam on the women—just the way it has been ever since Mel Brooks descended Mount Sinai. Truth be known, women care more about these things. Husbands, I sense, tend to abstain not so much because the Torah dictates it, but because they don’t want discussions. Just the way it is.

In any event, I had the renewed opportunity to exchange pleasantries with some very nice people that had—at one time or another— for reasons (some of which were valid), preferred not to talk to me. Or so it seemed. And the other day, even if only for that common denominator of Stacy Celia, I was not traif.

The day ended with a festive meal at the ex’s home. The joy of the weekend was dampened by the absence of some, but not stilled. I spoke with Joel’s kids, got to know some of Rooney’s friends a bit better, and capped it off by sitting on my brother’s lap for pictures).

And then it was time to go.

I stopped at Giant Eagle for groceries, gassed up the car, and it was “Law And Order SVU” by ten.

Still as exhausted as I was, I was filled with the glow of the day’s simcha, which I knew was just a down payment on the wedding to come.

I love being with my ex’s kin—they’ve treated me like blood throughout.
Leslie even told me I was one of her favorite “ex-relatives.” And I enjoy seeing the way the First Wives Club continues to embrace my children, (which is what really matters).

It’s hard not to pause a bit, and reflect on my part in the family abyss.
The shoulddabeens. Sometimes I wonder if others have the same bittersweet thoughts.

It matters not. Today is today, and everyone is doing the best they can.

And the little one is smiling.

So with pen in hand, I began to take notes for this entry. Uncle Ernie’s pen.

“Ah, but I was so much older then,
I’m younger than that now.”