A dear friend of mine pointed out that my Divorced Dad’s musings, most notably this one, could be construed as passive-aggressive behavior towards my children. Please be assured, kind reader, that my children are unaware of the existence of this blog. To the best of my knowledge.
And so you raise your two children and remind them of this belief every year on their birthdays. By the time they are adults, they have heard you state this belief enough for their eyes to glaze over. But they know it is an important belief, and one day they will share this belief with you.
But that day has not yet arrived. It is 11:00 p.m. on your birthday and you have not heard from either of them. There are several possible reasons:
- One or both of them have been hospitalized after car crashes, and your ex-wife has failed to notify you;
- They have forgotten you exist; or
- They are exercising the still-new freedom you granted them when they reached their respective majorities, the freedom from having to do everything in their power to please you and earn your approval.
Your feelings are probably hurt, and why shouldn’t they be? The Divorced Dad loves his children and hopes that his love is reflected by them.
And so what does the Divorced Dad do when one or both children eventually call (because they will) and say “I’m sorry about your birthday?”
The first word out of the Divorced Dad’s mouth should be “and?” The reason for this, you have learned, is that your adult children are still not fully raised. They still have knowledge and wisdom to acquire. Which is why they will not understand what you mean when you ask “and?”
Without getting angry, the Divorced Dad will explain the three meanings of “I’m sorry”:
- I am sorry you feel that way, which is a terrific passive-aggressive play;
- I don’t know what else to say, because I am pathetic; and
- Here’s how I am going to make it up to you, which is a genuine, mature, and bridge-building response.
Just remember, your children are still capable of mistakes, and you are now teaching them how to be grown-ups capable of fixing those mistakes.
We are upon the end times. The last episode of “Mad Men” will air this weekend, and then I will have to get a life. “Mad Men” has been my steadfast partner through divorce and courting. What a funny word, “courting.”
And so as I begin the ritual of mourning one’s favorite television entertainment, a headline in one of the Gawker websites caught my eye. “Mad Men Characters, Ranked,” written by one of my favorite man-children, Drew Magary, who takes great pleasure at poking people in the eye (metaphorically).
Drew named Roger Sterling as his Number #1 character, followed by Don Draper. There is no methodology to this ranking, other than creating a list that would piss off “Mad Men” fans.
I got to thinking about how to rank “Mad Men” characters using a methodology and came up with a spreadsheet filled with lots and lots of numbers. Using IMDB’s database, I culled the names of 94 characters. I then assigned each character a 1-5 point score (5=highest; 1=lowest) in these categories:
- Sex Appeal
- Demonstrated Personal Growth
- Business Savvy
- Sense/Lack of Entitlement
- # of Episodes
The results totally shocked me. Email me if you would like the review the spreadsheet.
Here is the ranking:
- Rachel Menken
- Bob Benson (tied for #1)
- Sally Draper
- Margaret Hargrove
- Roger Sterling
- Betty Francis
- Michael Ginsberg
- Jim Hobart
- Jimmy Barrett
- Don Draper
- Megan Draper
- Pima Ryan
- Salvatore Romano
- Abe Drexler
- Midge Daniels
- Marie Calvet
- Paul Kinsey
- Glen Bishop
- Lee Garner Jr.
- Peggy Olson
- Pete Campbell
- Joan Harris
- Dawn Chambers
- Mona Sterling
- Conrad Hilton
- Ken Cosgrove
- Lane Pryce
- Bonnie Whiteside
- Lee Cabot
- Faye Miller
- Beth Dawes
- Lee Garner, Sr.
- Henry Francis
- Miss Blankenship
- Helen Bishop
- Bertram Cooper
- Duck Phillips
- Greg Harris
- Sylvia Rosen
- Arnold Rosen
- Anna Draper
- Trudy Campbell
- Dorothy ‘Dot’ Campbell
- Fred Rumsen
- Rebecca Pryce
- Bobbie Barrett
- Bobby Draper
- Tom Vogel
- Jane Sterling
- Gene Draper
- Stan Rizzo
- Ted Chaough
- Abigail Whitman
- Frank Gleason
- Suzanne Farrell
- PFC Dinkins
- Lieutenant Donald Draper
- Lou Avery
- Adam Whitman
- Jennifer Crane
- Harry Crane
- Jim Cutler
- Gene Hofstadt
- Carlton Hanson
- Lois Sadler
- Nan Chaough
- Mirabelle Ames
- John Mathis
- Brooks Hargrove
- Cynthia Cosgrove
- Francine Hanson
- Burt Peterson
- Ferg Donnelly
- Joey Baird
- Gail Holloway
- Katherine Olson
- Anita Olson Respola
When Maria Shriver posits an opinion publicly, she understands she has a choir ready to shout “amen” to her preaching. When she writes about the subject of divorce, as she recently did in the Huffington Post, she must know that she is wading into it.
Her five pieces of advice are fine: 1) do some soul searching; 2) set goals; 3) ask for what you want; 4) believe you can; and 5) respect your progress. Seriously, I am sure that Dr. Phil or Ellen would love to get a recorded hour with Maria to discuss this high-minded list. I cannot disagree with this advice, and I am not about to trash talk a fellow Georgetown grad.
However, if you are a rich, famous, connected, and beautiful woman with a strong family supporting you, you might experience divorce differently than the average schlub. The concept of reinvention is obviously appealing to Maria Shriver.
However, I would argue that, for the rest of us, the most important thing is just surviving the shattering consequences of divorce. Because going through divorce can make you feel like you are not going to survive. Short of the death of a loved one, it may be the worst blow imaginable. Your confidence is shot, and before you embark on the journey of reinvention, you have to possess at least an iota of confidence.
Make peace with the reality that it will get worse before it gets better. If you wake up every morning hoping that it will all be over, you will be deluding yourself. Getting through divorce is a long process. So every day, you just put one foot in front of the other. You go to work and focus on your job. You try to eat healthy food. You exercise regularly. Life sucks, but you have to take care of yourself if you have any hope of surviving.
Do not start dating right away. Oh, sweet Jesus, the temptation of the touch and taste and feel and smell of another person in your bed is like a narcotic. However, along with that sweet earthly delight comes complications because we are not talking about a blow-up sex doll. There is another person in bed with you, and there is no way you are ready to deal with the responsibility of another person’s hopes, dreams, and ambitions. You are a mess. You might be horny, but there are other ways to deal with that issue that do not involve hurting an innocent person.
Create a budget. Don’t know Excel? You’d better learn. Seriously, whip out a spreadsheet and figure out all your revenue streams and outlays. You will surprise yourself about what you will learn, not just about your money situation but where your priorities lay.
Spend more time by yourself than you would like. Lots of people confuse being alone with lonely. In your divorce, you are alone. You are probably also lonely. Go ahead and be lonely for a while. Live inside your head for a while. Embrace silence every day. Why? Guess what? You have just learned the hard way that, in life, we are on our own. When you are finally ready to be with other people – or with another person – you will appreciate them so much more.
Create a list of “needs” and “wants.” Get rid of as much stuff as you can. Simplify your life as much as possible. Stop buying shit. And create a list of the things in your life: do you need it or want it? You need soap and toothpaste. Do you need that Ethan Allen four-poster for your bedroom? You need to buy gas so that you can drive to work. Do you need that new BMW? You need an Internet connection. Do you need 500 channels on TV? You need food in your refrigerator. Do you need to eat out five nights a week? You need to keep your new home clean. Do you need another McMansion? You need to do the laundry. Do you need those Christian Louboutin shoes?
You might surprise yourself to learn that you don’t need so much shit to be content.
I’m waiting for that call from Dr. Phil or Ellen.
My first vote on Tuesday will be against my economic self-interest. You see, I have benefitted financially from the incumbent in office. He is a good person of stout beliefs who has delivered on many of his campaign promises. However, the promises on which he delivered have had a deleterious effect on my humble, flyover state. I may take a financial hit with his defeat, but my fellow citizens and I cannot stomach another term from this otherwise fine person. In these circumstances, you gotta do what you gotta do.
My second vote will be enveloped in something worse than the stench of decay. Though I have met her only once, the challenger is someone whose beliefs, public record, and behavior inspire me to despise her. I suspect she is dishonest and perhaps mentally unstable. Elected to the office to which she aspires would be nothing short of an utter disaster. However, the incumbent fits the dictionary definition of “captured” when it comes to all the special interests and issues I find abhorrent. Though I believe the incumbent will win re-election by an 80-20 margin, I will vote for the person I despise. In these circumstances, you cannot let the powerful bully think he has clear run of the yard.
I pray that your voting experiences will be more pleasant.
Jazmine Hughes revealed “The Secret Fantasies of Adults” in The New Yorker (“Yes, The New Yorker”” which, while enjoyable for all readers, skews towards the feminine perspective. Here, for your consideration, are some thoughts lurking deep within the male psyche.
Selling Your Old Car for More Than Its Worth
In life, you are going to make thousands of business transactions. Almost all of them are going to be on other people’s terms. Even the ones you make with the store clerk who reminds you of the kid in seventh grade whom Sister Rose Veronica ordered everyone to treat nicely. Yes, even that store clerk has it over you. And so, one day, you put your Volkswagen Past on Craigslist. You tell yourself, what the heck, list it $500 above book value and some goober comes along, pulls out a thick wad, and pays your price without even asking to take a test drive. Two months later, the goober’s used Passat breaks down on I-95 in South Carolina. A state trooper who pulled over to help gets suspicious and discovers $3 million in cocaine in the trunk. That’s the goober’s problem, not yours.
Mandatory Use of All Vacation Time
Your boss calls you in and says, “Look, I appreciate that you did not take all your vacation time last year because of the last-minute request on the Draper account. That cannot happen again this year. I need you rested and ready. After you finish with the Hirohito people in Tokyo, the company is going to send you to Hanoi for a week. I heard cell phone service there is terrible. Oh, and take your girlfriend. All expenses paid. By us.”
A Shorter Commute
A bitter, old man who lives five minutes from your office died of a heart attack in the act of coitus with a prostitute. The guy who caught your pass for the winning touchdown in the state high school championship is the EMT who responded to the prostitute’s 911 call. You take your morning jog by the old, bitter man’s house the next day. A guy who resembles Jeff Lebowski is sitting on the porch, sucking down a Natty Bo. You stop and talk about how the Patriots sucked last Sunday. You and he suck down a couple more Natty Bo’s. He is the bitter, old man’s son. You ask him what he’s “gonna do with this run-down shack.” You offer him $20,000 less than you know what the house is worth, all cash. You just trimmed 25 minutes from your daily commute to work.
Two Hours of Absolute, Goddamn Quiet Every Day
Everything is swirling around me. I just want to be able to figure out all the shit that’s running through my head.
A Really Good Burrito After Sex
OK, when I wake up, is it too much to ask to be able to eat something really good? Whatever you want, just get me a really good burrito.
A Competent and Assertive Social Secretary
Sure, I want to hang out with my friends, but I don’t want to spend the time and effort arranging the logistics or figuring out what we are going to do once we are in the same room. You can do that, right?
Your Wingman is Amy Poehler
Women will flock to you if Amy Poehler is your wingman. Amy Poehler is awesome.
When you are the dad of girls, you do things you had not planned on doing. For instance, when Thing 2 was in middle school, she and I bonded over “Gilmore Girls.” We never finished watching the series, but when Netflix began streaming the show, I had the chance to nostalgically walk through Stars Hollow one more time.
A few years removed from focusing on Rory Gilmore as the touchstone of the show, I realize that the real heroes of the show are the characters of the musty, crusty, waspy grandparents, Emily and Richard Gilmore. Get over their wealth and privilege and entitlement the same why you got over how Stars Hollow is not Grover’s Corners.
OK, back to Emily and Richard. They are badass. Here’s why:
- In the middle of the series, Richard grew a mustache.
- Emily and Richard threw a birthday party for the illegitimate child of their daughter, and they invited all of their musty, crusty, waspy friends. They make these people accept Rory.
- In their college days, Emily stole Richard ‘s heart after he was engaged to another woman.
- Richard works on restoring cars. In the driveway.
- Emily and Richard show up for everything, including Lorelei’s graduation from the local community college. It wasn’t Vassar, as they had planned, but they cried anyway.
- Richard always seems to show up with a check in an envelope.
- Emily takes Rory on the Grand Tour and convincingly flirts with Italian men in front of her granddaughter.
- Emily likes Lorelei’s friends more than she likes her own friends.
- Emily and Richard are not perfect. They can be downright dreadful at times (c.f., Richard manipulating Rory to Yale, Emily manipulating Lorelei to Christopher).
- Emily and Richard are unconditional in their love of Lorelei and Rory. When Rory is arrested for stealing a yacht, Richard’s first instinct is to get her a lawyer, not admonish her over the obvious.
- Emily and Richard are the only characters in the show who demonstrate the ability to learn from their mistakes.
- The ampersand is the Bob Benson of punctuation. It tries too hard by half to please. “Look at me! I’m here,” it screams from the page. I see you, ampersand. Just go away.
- The ampersand represents everything that is lazy about bad writing. Just throw in an ampersand – only two keystrokes instead of three! [Editor’s Note: the two keystrokes are represented by the shift and the 8 key]
- The ampersand is cute. Dave and Buster’s: not cute. Dave & Buster’s: incredibly cute!
- When the legal secretary in your office uses an ampersand in the nomenclature of documents you are supposed to upload to the website, it wreaks havoc on the process. You have to manually rename each and every document with an ampersand. That’s why you are in the office this weekend.
- Have you ever tried to write an ampersand? Like, with a pen in your hand? I mean, faithfully capture it, not cheat with some squiggly line. That’s right, it cannot be done.
- Did Jane Austen use an ampersand in the titles of any of her novels? No, she did not! Why is that, do you suppose? It’s because she hated the goddamn ampersand!
- Have you ever seen the looks on people’s faces when you use the word “ampersand” in casual conversation? It’s like you, a man, brought up the subject of menstruation.
- Have you ever crossed paths with a copy editor? The kind that is really, really, really, really devoted to every single detail of sentence construction. The kind that was beaten by not one, but two nuns in seventh grade for once failing to detect the dangling participle? Enough said.
- The ampersand treats the more proper conjunction – and – like an illegitimate step-sibling. It makes me weep when I think about how proud and haughty the ampersand becomes when it is in the same room with “and.”
- I lied. The ampersand is actually a ligature. Do you even have the slightest idea of the provenance of this goddamned ligature? If you do, that means you took Latin as some fancy prep school. I should just kick your ass.