Last Friday morning was a difficult one. A little after nine months after separating from my wife, I finally made the soul-crushing journey down to the local circuit court to file for divorce. It was an overwhelming experience in many ways. It was expensive. The paperwork was confusing. And worst of all, it meant I could no longer be in denial that our marriage was over.
There was an additional problem, though. Both she and I have heard from friends and family on more than one occasion that our story would make a great sitcom or screenplay for a film. We were together for 11 years, then she came out as a lesbian. Now we’re still the best of friends and just trying to figure out how to navigate life after our marriage. What a pitch!
In the screenplay of our relationship, this scene of me filing the paperwork would be a pivotal one. But Friday morning… it was dramatically unsatisfying. After filing the paperwork, I walked back to my car. I was crying as I left the courthouse, but luckily I didn’t cross paths with any other pedestrians. When I finally got back inside my car, I let out a howling sob that in a movie would seem like ridiculous overacting. Then I went home, hugged our daughter, and played video games for the rest of the day to avoid feelings.
This wouldn’t play well on screen. There’s no oomph to it. There’s no dramatic turn. It’s just sad, and then it’s over. So, in case I ever do turn it into a screenplay, I’ve decided to write five alternate endings to the scene that I think would be more marketable.
The Meet Cute
I’m on my way out of the courthouse, wiping tears away from my face. As I make my way to the exit, I bump into someone. “Excuse me,” I say through muffled sobs. “I’m very sorry.”
“No, I’m sorry,” a woman’s voice says. Her apology is punctuated by a sniffle that makes it apparent she has also been crying. “I wasn’t looking where I was going. I was… distracted I guess.”
I look over at the woman and my heart leaps out of my chest. She is beautiful but has a vulnerability to her. I envision the role being played by Alison Brie. I gesture for her to walk ahead of me out the door. She smiles wanly and does so. I follow closely behind.
“So what brings you down here today?” she asks me. “I’m guessing not something you’re particularly happy about.”
“What gave it away?” I say wryly. “No, I was filing for divorce. It was… tough. You?”
She sighs. “Same here. This might sound weird, but my husband came out as gay. Can you believe that? After five years of marriage. So, here I am.”
“Wow,” I say. “This is a crazy coincidence, but the same thing happened to me. I mean, not with my husband. With my wife. I don’t have a husband. She and I were together for 11 years, though, so I might have you beat. Not that’s it’s a contest or anything. You know. I’ll shut up now.”
“What are the odds?” she says, a dumbfounded look on her face. “Actually, I have a doctorate in statistics from MIT so I can tell you: they’re pretty low.”
“Wow, a doctorate in statistics. That’s impressive. Can you tell me what the odds are that you’d want to go somewhere and get a coffee with me? I feel like we’d have a lot to discuss.”
“Oh, that one’s easy,” she says with a smile. “One hundred percent.”
The Last Straw
I walk out of the courtroom, wiping tears from my eyes. I make my way down the street to my car, and just as I’m putting my key in the lock I hear a voice behind me. “Put your hands up and turn around slowly or I swear to god I’ll cut you.”
I do as I’m told, and when I turn around I see a skinhead with a swastika tattoo on his forearm. He looks like he’s strung out on methamphetamine, and he’s holding a switchblade menacingly.
“Give me all your money, square,” he says.
“Brother,” I reply, “I’ve been having a really bad day today. But yours is about to be a whole lot worse.”
I hit him a lot. Then I walk around the city hitting other people a lot. But only people who deserve it because they’re rude or whatever.
The Ironic Twist
I get back to the car after leaving the courthouse. As I wipe the tears away from my eyes, I see my cell phone on the passenger seat and realize I accidentally left it there the whole time I was in the building. I see a text message notification on the phone and pick the phone up to read it.
The text message is from my wife. “Hey, I’ve been rethinking the whole being gay thing. Give me a call back in the next five minutes if you want to get back together. Otherwise if I don’t hear from you I’ll probably just keep being gay.”
I check the time the time the text message was sent.
“Fifteen minutes ago,” I say aloud.
The Dark Night of the Soul
I get back into my car after leaving the courthouse. I try to start it but the battery is dead. I get back out of the car and it starts pouring rain. Then I get a phone call telling me that someone I know and love is dead, and I’m really bummed out about that. I walk to the nearest bar to drink away my pain. While drinking at the bar, I meet a woman who seems sympathetic to my situation. We go back to her place and make out a bit. The scene dissolves to black. I wake up in a bathtub full of ice with a note taped to me that says, “Call 911.” That’s when I realize my internal organs are missing.
The Postmodern Deconstruction
As I leave the courtroom, I turn and face the camera. “Wow, that was hard,” I say. “You may be wondering how I dealt with the whole situation. Well to be honest, I had a mental breakdown and started thinking of my life in terms of a movie. For instance: when leaving the courthouse, I talked to an imaginary camera as if I were Ferris Bueller or something. I know: crazy, right? But that’s what happens when you’re part of a generation raised on pop culture and don’t know how to deal with your feelings. What happened next? Well, turn to your right and ask me. I’m sitting right next to you in the theater. Surprise!”
The audience member turns to his or her right and there I am. I wink and laugh, because isn’t life just absurd?