um, you don't have to stay for dinner

Dear friends are getting divorced. We thought they had the perfect life. Well, no.

The minute we learned they they didn't, we told each other we would not take sides, would not offer advice or make suggestions, would not deliver messages.... We would be sympathetic, but would remain neutral, like Switzerland, except without yodeling. We didn't want our long and cherished friendship to be part of the collateral damage of their break-up. You never know what goes on in other people's houses, we told each other. We told others, primly, that we knew nothing, were shocked and saddened, had no details.

I admired her restraint. Himself just shook his head. I continued to think of Switzerland.

Where, I remembered, there are holes in Swiss cheese. Where there are bank vaults holding sad and dangerous secrets. Where, finally, there are avalanches. And one night my friend, who had brought me dinners when I was sick, who had hemmed a gown for a company event for me, who had listened and laughed and cried with me for longer than I'll ever admit (there are secrets and there are secrets), called. And talked. And talked. And shared the shock and heartbreak of learning about her husband's double life. From one of the girlfriends. I was - beyond speechless. I reassured her that I wouldn't tell anyone. She said she didn't care, that apparently so many people already know that it didn't matter. All that was left, she said, was heartbreak, fury, lawyers.

That same night Himself received a call from the guy I now think of as The Culprit. He had Erred Tragically. He had broken a trust. He knew now what was wrong and what he truly valued. He wanted only to fix things. He was Not That Guy. They just needed to cool down a little. They were working things out.

Even Switzerland looks different depending whether you're up on an alp or down in an alley in Geneva. We told them (separately) we hoped they'd figure things out, but I thought even if only half of what she said she'd learned was accurate, I didn't give much for his chances.
Imagine my surprise one hot afternoon when the Culprit and suitcase turned up at Flintstone Manor, thinking that the sight of the ocean would help him clear his head.

-- I'm not cooking.
-- So we'll eat out. I can't turn away a friend of so many years.

I called the soon-to-be-ex-Mrs. Culprit and told her the situation. She said his activities were no concern of hers, and would not affect our friendship in the least.

A week later, we have made the Culprit an offer he can't refuse. We will drive him to the airport, the train, or the bus, his choice, but the visit has ended. He is packing.

Last night he called the soon-to-be-ex, and she asked to speak with me. She reported that she'd heard from another old friend who offered good advice about staying together at all costs.

-- How did that go?
-- She won't be calling me again.

I'm setting out one last lunch before we head for the airport. It won't be fondue.


  1. Hello:
    These situations are always so very difficult and, despite all of one's good intentions, never work out as planned. And here you are now, to extend your own metaphors, left with a clock without a cuckoo!

  2. Jane and Lance, you just couldn't resist, could you?

  3. Oh noooo, this is frightful. A week?
    The visit lasted a week?
    We've had good friends break up. There is almost always a bad guy/gal in these situations. Very tough to stay neutral.

  4. Hi, Dani, it was 5 1/2 calendar days but in beach time that counts as a week. Now I expect to spend the next week being interrogated. Canned response is ready: "You know what? It's sad, bit it isn't mine to talk about."

  5. Ugghhh. What a drag. Good luck to each of you. This is never easy.

  6. Hi, Julie, well, the Culprit is on his way home (or at least away from here), and there's radio silence from the about2BX and from curious friends, so I'm hoping for a peaceful few days to catch up with stuff and go shopping if not spending.

  7. Wait. I'm confused. Your friend is no longer talking to you because another friend offered advice?

  8. I could have been clearer!

    It was another old friend who jumped in with unsolicited advice and got an earful. Me, I only got the report from the Soon2BX-Mrs.C., who's still speaking to me. And I'm still listening. And Himself is still listening to The Culprit. Isn't there something about "May you live in interesting times?"


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