“Do we tip the driver?” I asked Sophia. We were in the backseat of a limo, part of the fleet from one of the most famous of Los Angeles livery services.
“I’m not sure. I suppose so.” she answered, sipping her champagne. “We certainly don’t want to be called cheap for the next six years, like we have been on that old post about splitting a salad at Olive Garden.”
We both laughed, and ate more of the caviar, included with our VIP package. Â I still get angry comments on that post at least once a week from waiters at Olive Garden, calling us cheapskates. Â Even at our lowest points in our marriage, Sophia and I could take a breather to read the latest bitter response to the post and chuckle together. Â It was our form of marital therapy.
“It’s my favorite post,” I said.
We were relaxing in the limo, dressed in our finest clothes. Â I was wearing a rented tuxedo. Sophia wore a pearl necklace. The idea was to feel like a modern-day Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, on our way to the court to file our paperwork for divorce. Â We were sophisticated, urbane, shelling out the witticisms like in a Noel Coward play.
Wait a minute. Â Didn’t we file for divorce already? If you remember last season in this long-going series, I left town to go to New York City. Final shot: The signed paperwork sitting on the coffee table as I closed the door in the background.
New season. Â Surprise. Â It was all a trick, as clever a gimmick as finding out on “Dallas” that it was all a dream.
Somehow the paperwork got lost or misplaced so we need to do it all over again. Â What I will do just for blog fodder.
But it is all good. Â Better to file the papers in STYLE, like we always wanted to do. We would go to court via limo, and then head out to a swanky nightclub for 300 of our closest friends for the ultimate LA party of the year.
“Would you enjoy some music while you relax in the back?” asked the livery driver.
“Sure,” said Sophia.
The driver played some Barry White, which somehow seemed so wrong that it was right.
But the low sultry voice of Barry White was quickly drowned out as we approached the downtown courthouse. Waiting for us on the steps was the full USC Trojan Marching band playing our wedding song. Â It cost me a fortune to rent them.
“Perfect, Neil. Â This is going to be the best filing for divorce in the history of Divorce!”
“I made an appointment so we don’t have to wait.” I mentioned to Sophia. Â “All we have to do is hand the piece of paper in, pay a fee, and the process has started.”
“I’m sure your blog readers will be relieved,” she added. Â “This neurotic plotline has been going on for so long. It’s time for a new story twist.”
We had it all arranged, as precisely as a movie heist. Â We would approach the clerk in the courthouse. Â I would hold the right side of the filing paper, and Sophia the left side — Â and hand it in together. Â Like a team!
Because marriage is all about teamwork.
“Do you have the paperwork?” Â asked Sophia.
“I think you put it in your purse.”
“No. You said you were going to take it yourself.”
“Not true. Â I distinctly remember asking YOU if I should take it, and YOU said that YOU would put it in your purse so I wouldn’t have to fold it in eights in order to put into my shirt pocket.”
“Why would I care if you folded it in eights or not?”
“I don’t know. Â Maybe because you are a perfectionist. Â That’s what you said!”
The limo was parked directly in front of the downtown Los Angeles court. Â The USC Trojan marching band was playing our wedding song, our first dance, for the fifth time in a row. Â The livery driver was getting impatient.
“We can always get another piece of paper in the courthouse.” I suggested.
“And wait in line again? No way! Â Why don’t you just come back tomorrow and hand it in yourself.”
“Because we are supposed to be doing this together.”
“Stop being so co-dependent.”
“We’re a team! Â A team to the end. Â Like the USC Trojans Â Even though we are separated for years!”
“How can we be a team if you are always forgetting the paperwork back at home. So irresponsible?”
“Me? Irresponsible? This whole thing would be over by now if you had just handed it in a year ago like you were supposed to do!”
“F*ck it.” said Sophia. “Let’s just do this another day. I’m walking over to Chinatown and having some lunch.”
“OK, I’m hungry too. Â But I’m doing this by next week.”
Sophia and I left the limo, the marching band repeating the refrain of Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen, our wedding song. Â I guess I would have to pay them overtime, just like I did the swing band at the wedding reception. Â As we walked to Chinatown, we gently stepped to the music, still remembering the swing dance lessons we took before the wedding, so many years before.
The limo driver rolled down his window and spit on the floor.
“Assholes,” he snarled. “They didn’t even tip me. Â Cheapskates.”
Truth Quotient — 2%