There’s a really fine line between thrifty and crafty. Like up-cycling your wedding invitation card stock to announce your divorce. The same two complementing colors, the ones that tied the napkins with the table clothes perfectly on that special day, now shimmering deep red and peach hues of deja vu for every wedding guest and mutual friend you’ve made during the course of your now officially failed relationship.
You know, if I hadn’t believed in Pete and Dan’s love I would have never given them that blender. I had figured if those old queens ever held a Detachment it would be blamed on a couple thousand too many cosmos in Dan’s liver and we’d spend an evening consoling Pete with some dreadful Celine Dion dubbed slideshow of every picture they’d ever taken together. I didn’t expect a perfectly wax sealed and pressed envelope full of melodramatic irony. But Pete’s spitefully pointed calligraphy read very clearly between the lines, “this is no where near amicable,” and whatever happened between them, two things were certain, I was RSVPing to the carnage and I was getting that fucking blender back.
My aunt Cheryl went the formal way for her first Detachment. That was when I learned, chances are, if you’re wearing a tie- it’s going to be brutal. Everyone could feel it when the toast started. She really let him have it. Lights dimmed to play a fully edited video presentation with footage of him sitting in front of the television for hours, staring at young waitresses, buying Aunt Cheryl books about weight loss for her birthday. Every minute describing in detail to all of their mutual family and friends where things went to shit while my then uncle disappeared further and further into his eggshell lace wrapped chair. You weren’t required to take sides after the toast, but you could typically see people squirming to the traditional bride or grooms side directly after the conclusion. Dragging their children, boyfriends, girlfriends, any guest or plus one who couldn’t make their own decision, with them.
It wasn’t a spoken rule, but it was pretty customary for the person with the most guests on their side at the end of the night to keep the larger share of the relationship spoils. The opinions of family and friends weren’t supposed to hold up in divorce court, but when it comes to wedding china and custody of the kids, there’s really not much that matters more than that. The real tragedy at that vintage early 80s decor disaster was that nobody told aunt Cheryl just because she could still fit in her old wedding dress didn’t mean she should, side ponytailing all the way across that fine line between tacky and trendy. A cracked mirror image of what she once called the best day of her life.
The best ones were more informal, at a house where instead of asking for the expensive gifts back you could just casually rummage around till you found it yourself. Sometimes couples will just put them right out for you, a reverse gift table, unwrapped and slightly used. But most of the time people want to battle it out. See who ends up with the blame at the end of the event then bring the presents out of hiding hoping you never ask for them to be returned.
No one wants to have to buy a new toaster oven when they’re finally sitting alone in an empty studio apartment wishing they could re melt the cheese on the large pizza they’ve been grazing on since dinner time. So you’ll fight for your right to your stuff. Fight to make sure everyone knows who’s at fault for your loneliness. Because you deserve that victory. That toaster oven is the least you can be awarded in exchange for the heartache and in most cases, there’s a really fine line between petty and economical.
They’re not all bad. When my friend Ryan told his wife he was gay she said, “rock on, me too” and we had one hell of a party. Talk about an even split. I had a hangover for three solid days and I even got what was left of the essential oil kit I gave them back. They’re both happy now with new partners, BFFs4L. A connection is a connection but sex can tear a marriage apart no matter how much you love someone.
So here I am in the same navy blue wool suit I wore as Pete and Dan’s groomsman. Just happy it’s Spring instead of Summer like the first time around, but still sweating my nuts off back and forth to the open bar while everyone gossips in small cliques around the cherub fountains at the country club. Pointing and whispering about which one of the guys was rumored to be taking extremely private lessons with the golf pro and who would end up claiming all the perks of the membership. Across the courtyard there’s a chiseled man with dark tanned skin and salt and pepper hair. And even though I’m in no hurry to get in or out or a relationship I’m asking the former peach bridesmaids who he is and they’re giggling with deep red satin belts like forgotten romantic sunsets saying, “he’s the Detachment planner.”
I’m imagining him staring in his own infomercial. “Weddings, funerals, breakups, detachments. We’ll plan it all and business is booming!” He cracks a chemically whitened smile. Zero percent body fat and zero percent shame.
When the toast finally starts every guest is just as full of uncomfortable tension as they are gin. Pete is demanding Dan tell everyone what happened. To explain to us all in detail what brought an end to ten solid years of wine tastings and farmers markets. Christmas decorating and passing down crumb cake recipes. Pete is crying into a half empty etched chalice of Pinot Grigio, slamming the stemless glass into the peach table cloth. And it’s then Dan stands silently, displaying the same amount of shame as their Detachment planner who is directly across the dance floor.
There’s a beat of silence before Dan sighs, resigned but smiling as he speed walks towards the ripped all-occasion-planning daddy. They meet in the middle of the country club ballroom and passionately kiss in front of the guests. Those white teeth and perfect abs pressed against the jiggly hairy dad bod that was promised to Pete until death.
I’m moving unnaturally quick with the majority of the guests to one side of the room. Trying to support Pete. Non-verbally saying in unison, fuck Dan. Saying in my head, the blender is all yours Pete. Make smoothies in your new apartment. I’ll bring over the Celine Dion.
And I’m remembering again why I’m so single, because of all the fine lines, the finest seems to be the one between forever and never again.