My expectation for the mediation on Tuesday was that I would get to sit in my own little room, ex would sit in his own little room, and the mediator would shuffle between us. I wouldn’t have to see him, I wouldn’t have to hear him, I wouldn’t have to be in his presence. Unfortunately, mediator man thought that two adults need to act maturely and civilly, you know, be nice to each other.
He forgot that I had told him we were divorced already, not a good thing to forget. Don’t worry, I reminded him of this significant detail as soon as he started asking if there is a way to save the marriage. Um, what marriage?
Did I say that mediator man is in his 70’s, battling cancer and recently had a part of his right ear chopped off? Perhaps his perspective on life comes from the perspective of a man looking back at the follies of people, but since I am in the prime of folliehood I did not appreciate his view from on high.
When I walked into the mediator’s office I was confronted with a very, very big oval table of heavy wood with six chairs around it. I think it was a dining room table transformed into an office table. But it was wide enough so that we couldn’t be near each other.
(Highlight of the meeting: ex’s chair broke. The wheel of one leg fell off, twice. I was gracious enough to not laugh, but my was that lovely. I wasn’t able to look at him, but I could see him struggling to get the wheel back in.)
Is it worth it to go into the details of ex’s presentation of his case? Or is it enough to say that as I listened to him, I could hear how an outsider would think that what he said made sense but it was all twisted, twisted by a perception of reality that is formed in a narcissist’s mind. Apparently the house has not sold for two reasons. First, we had an offer that I rejected. I practically jumped out of my seat when he said that. There has never been an offer, there was a price probe last summer a month after the house was listed that was so low that even the realtor didn’t take it seriously. Second, the carpet in the entrance is old and I refuse to replace it. Yes, a house built in 1977 with the original kitchen, original bathrooms, original windows, original flooring has not sold because of a worn carpet and not because it is priced as if it has a new kitchen, new bathrooms, new windows and new flooring. Please.
As he presented his interpretation of reality I sighed, a very deep sigh. That caused him to pack up and threaten to leave. Yes, my sighing is on purpose and I do it because I know it aggravates him. No, I do not sigh as an expression of my disgust and disbelief at the twisted version of reality that comes out of his mouth. And the mediator bought this, that to sigh is to press a button.
Oh, this is all so ridiculous reliving this experience.
He was an asshole, and I tried not to be an asshole back. I raised my voice. I did a mocking laugh. I sighed a number of times. I tried to keep to what is important and not get into a discussion of how my slamming the closet door at home is a violation of his RIGHTS! I kid you not. In theory this is an intelligent man, he passed the New York Bar the first time he took it without having attended law school in New York, never mind that, not even in the US. But his mind has become deformed by his personality.
I tried to keep us focused on the house and setting a new price, and a new time frame for meeting again if it still has not sold. Ex demanded that we replace the carpet; okay, I agreed, I’ll pay 50% but he has to find the contractor and hire him. Mind you this meeting was a mere three days after my younger daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, for which he promised to pay 50% but which I have yet to see a dime (although he did hire the DJ), and I did all of the work. He agreed but he wanted to have some clause in there that if something is broken by the contractor we will both pay the damages.
At this point mediator man commented that this was the stupidest discussion that he had ever heard. At this point I was pretty pissed at mediator man for being a pretty lousy mediator for saying that. (On top of his earlier comment that we are both pushing each other’s buttons, which I did not do. Is my sighing the same as his cursing me and dredging up a relationship I had last year and saying I tried to kill him and repeating that the girls hate me?). Since I took a course in mediation and am a trained mediator (hard to believe, so is ex) I was well aware that what the mediator says does not go, and that I don’t have to agree to anything that I don’t want to. So he will find the contractor. Mediator man’s comment was just another man saying something stupid and unobservant.
We hammered out the points of agreement in about two hours. At that point we agreed to meet back there in two hours to go over the agreement and sign it.
One would think that at that point I would have a relaxing day. Maybe contemplate the election (this was Election Day) or even lie down and rest from the whirlwind weekend, but no, whatever it is that makes the world go round decided that I need more stress in my life. Yes, more stress. My life is a stress test.
And so my older daughter called me from school, where she drove with my car and promised to be back home in time for me to finish the mediation, which I had scheduled so that I would be home in time to pick her up to take her to her evening class and take my younger daughter and me to temple where younger daughter has a class and helps another teacher, and I teach three classes.
These words came out of her mouth as I absentmindedly listened to her: “Your car was towed.”
I slammed the palm of my hand down and yelled “NO! I don’t need this.”
I will have you note that I, the horrible evil witch mother from hell, did not blame her but circumstance. Was it her fault that some evil person at Kohl’s doesn’t like cheapskates who attend the community college across the street who park in their parking lot instead of buying parking permits? After all, I am the cheapskate’s mother who taught her the ways of the parking world.
(At least my daughter had a friend who brought her home. I am glad that I am over the whole first impressions of how young adults dress because his wool hat, very baggy black pants with all sorts of chains did not put me off. He seemed like a nice kid.)
So rather than relax I needed to: call the tow company, call a taxi, call school to see if someone could cover part of my class, reschedule with the mediator, walk up to the house at the top of the hill to where the taxi went instead of to my house, watch as the meter in the taxi kept clicking away my money, call the towing company representative since no one was at the lot when I got there, bang on the chain link fence in frustration, wait in the rain until the tow truck rep came, and then wait in the rain some more as I gave him my credit card info so he could get $150 from me (no, he did not ask me if I would like to sit in his truck while he did that so that I could get out of the rain).
From there I had to drive to the mediator’s where I had to argue about some more nuances in the wording, and listen to ex present himself as a normal human being again and me as the potential murderess (story to come), then to the bank to get the notary to sign the agreements, and listen as ex asked the bank guy about rates because he is such a financial consultant whiz pro that he has to get everyone to see what he knows, drive home to get younger daughter and drive to temple. And there I taught two sets of third graders about Jerusalem, and then seventh graders about anti-Semitism (luckily I had a movie to do the talking for me), and then nine seventh, eighth and ninth grade boys in my Humor Class who I parked in front of my computer so they could finish watching watch Duck Soup. (I admit, I have developed an appreciation for the wit of the Marx Brothers and Groucho's witticisms.)
At 8:45 I made it home, to watch the election results come in.
What a day.
Maybe someone from the Obama administration will buy the house. If there’s no traffic, it’s 30 minutes to DC, and it is in one of the best school districts in the country. It backs to a stream, and is at the end of a cul-de-sac. And you will be doing a very, very good deed—you may be saving my sanity, although you will need to replace the bathrooms, the toilets aren't working very well.