Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Separation Anxiety

A few days ago, my friend Jane rang to tell me she and Peter were divorcing.

“It’s just not working out,” she sighed. “We can’t even stand being in the same room together anymore.”

First of all, what do you say to someone who’s divorcing a man she first dated way back in high school?
“They’re getting divorced?” Amanda gasped, her pretty eyes wide.
“Is that even legal in Singapore?” Saffy wondered aloud.

Who saw this coming? No one. If Barack and Michelle Obama had been born Chinese, they would have looked like Jane and Peter. If they weren’t actually such nice people, you’d have hated them and looked for the nearest staircase to push them down. She was tall and pretty with long lustrous ebony hair, and was captain of the netball team. He was tall, buff with a perpetual tan as well as being captain of the hockey team.

Everyone loved them. When Peter’s mother died in our third year of high school, all the cleaning ladies showed up at the funeral crying hysterically. And you could just tell that, one day, they were going to live in a house with a garden, a dog, and a SUV filled with gorgeous children who played the violin and had IQs in the high 100s.

After high school, they went away to university, Jane to Cambridge to study medicine, and Peter to Oxford to read philosophy. And when they got married on a beach in the Maldives…well, my point is, divorce was never on the cards for these two.

“What do you mean they grew apart?” Amanda demanded. “How is that possible? He’s gorgeous!”

“Jane says she feels suffocated by Peter,” I reported.

“That woman is crazy! I’d give anything to be suffocated by Peter!” Saffy sighed, her magnificent bosom swelling at the fantasy.

For days after, it was all the girls could talk about. Much of the discussion centred around the idea that – in spite of the Tiffany commercials to which they were both hopelessly addicted – love might not, in fact, be forever. After all, if anyone was going to make it forever, it was meant to be this Golden Couple. And if this was the case, that love was just a momentary lapse in judgment, it then threw into question the whole point of dating and looking for Mr Right. Especially if after all that work, everyone was going to end up in some stuffy, expensive lawyer’s office dividing up the assets, planning visitation schedules for the children and then, if you were like Madonna, starting the whole dating process all over again.

As Saffy observed with her usual penetrating insight, “How depressing would that be?”

A few days later, the girls had afternoon tea with Jane. To their surprise, she looked radiant. “It’s such a relief to finally admit that we’re not right for each other,” Jane confided. “He was just irritating the hell out of me!”

Amanda looked flustered. “But, but…But you were so much in love!”

Jane rolled her eyes. “You’ve obviously never been married. Love doesn’t last. It’s replaced by routine. Because what nobody tells you is just how much hard work a relationship is! And when you have kids, you’re lucky if you even have two minutes of quality time together. I think I’ll take some time off, go to Bali and meditate. I need some me-time, I think,” she said wistfully.

Saffy looked pained. This was obviously not what she wanted to hear because it made her wonder just why she spent each Friday night primping for a date and the following week waiting for the guy to call her. As she later posted on Facebook: “If it’s all going to end in divorce, I should just take up a cookery course. It would be so much more USEFUL!”

Meanwhile, I had a drink with Peter. He too looked rested and relaxed. “I can’t believe we stayed married for so long!” he grinned as he gulped down his beer. I said that divorce obviously suited him. “You bet. I’ve been on three dates this week!” he grinned, while I choked into my gin and tonic. “It’s good to be back on the market!”

“He’s already dating?” Amanda squealed. “But he’s just gotten divorced!”

This morning, Saffy headed out to get a new outfit. “Uhm, I need new clothes,” she explained vaguely, while Amanda picked up the phone to book a facial. I’m thinking I should warn Peter. He won’t stand a chance. But then, it’s his fault for getting divorced in the first place.

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