Anybody who doesn’t think divorce can turn otherwise delightful people into acrimonious, vindictive and just plain nasty wretches hasn’t gone through it personally.
Divorce ranks second (73 “life change units”) on the Holmes and Rahe adult scale of life stresses that can lead to illness, right behind death of a spouse (100 units).
And payback? Oh my, yes.
Just Google “divorce revenge” and you’ll be offered 26 million hits.
Fortunately, somewhere among all that angst and pain lurks just a shosh of bitter, black humor, even if it takes a magnifying glass the size of Rhode Island to find it.
I remember a guy telling us how he’d gone away for a while after separating from his wife. He returned to discover she’d moved out and taken absolutely everything out of the house — except that, lined up on the fireplace mantelpiece, she’d arranged the toes she’d cut off his two dozen prized pairs of high-ticket cowboy boots.
He was understandably angry and so, so hurt as he told us the tale. And terrible, awful me had such a hard time not chuckling over the mental image of all those newly open-toed boots.
I’m so ashamed.
And then there was the jilted wife who, while her ex-husband was out of town, had his brand new Lexus convertible, with the top down, filled to the door handles with concrete.
But for the queen of crafty meanness, try this tale that made the rounds on Facebook a while back (thanks, Cheryl Smith, for sharing it):
“After 37 years of marriage. Jake dumped his wife for his young secretary.
“His new girlfriend demanded that they live in Jake and Edith’s multi-million dollar home and since the man’s high-priced lawyers were a little better, he prevailed. He gave Edith (his now ex-wife) just three days to move out.
“She spent the first day packing her belongings into boxes, crates and suitcases. On the second day, she had movers come and collect her things.
“On the third day, she sat down for the last time at their beautiful dining room table. By candlelight, she put on some soft background music and feasted on a pound of shrimp, a jar of caviar and a bottle of Chardonnay.
“When she had finished, she went into each and every room, and stuffed into the hollows of all of the curtain rods some half-eaten shrimp shells dipped in caviar.
“She then cleaned the kitchen and left.
“When the husband returned with his new girlfriend, all was bliss for the first few days. Then slowly but surely, the house began to smell.
“They tried everything: cleaning, mopping and airing out the place. Vents were checked for dead rodents, and carpets were cleaned or replaced. Air fresheners were hung everywhere. Exterminators were brought in to set off gas canisters. The man and his girlfriend had to move out for a few days.
“People stopped coming over to visit. Repairmen refused to work in the house. The maid quit. Finally, they couldn’t take the stench any longer. They decided to move. They listed the house for sale.
“A month later, even though they had cut the price in half, they could not find a buyer for their stinky house.
“Word got out, and eventually local Realtors refused to return their calls. Finally, they had to borrow a huge sum of money from the bank to purchase a new home.
“The ex-wife called the man and asked how things were going. He told her the saga of the rotting house. She listened politely and said that she missed her old home terribly and would be willing to reduce her divorce settlement in exchange for getting the house back.
“Knowing the ex-wife had no idea how bad the smell was, the man agreed on a price that was about 10 percent of what the house had been worth, but only if she were to sign the papers that very day.
“She agreed, and within the hour, his lawyers delivered the paperwork.
“A week later, the man and his girlfriend stood smiling as they watched the moving company pack everything to take to their new home ….
“… Including the curtain rods.”
Reporter Kathe Tanner's "Slice of Life" column appears biweekly. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/CambriaReporter.