Comedian Tony Sam knew his marriage was over when he and his wife couldn't agree on how to spend a $100 gift card at a sex toy shop. Sam was unnerved at her choice of a giant neon dildo ("with veins and all!") and dreamt about it often, terrified of the day that his wife and the dildo would kick him out of the home. When their relationship was truly on the rocks, he waved it in her face and shouted, "Is this what you really want? Is this what you want?"
He and eleven other writers--some remarried, some single, some with kids, some without--shared their "Moment I Knew" stories at Palihouse Holloway last night for the very first HuffPost Divorce meet up in Los Angeles. Stand up comedian Carlos Kotkin emceed the evening, interspersing writers like Jan Eliasberg (of NBC's Parenthood) and NPR commentator Antonio Sacre with 'Moment I Knew' micro-stories generated from the audience.
The stories ranged from the macabre to the hilarious. Actor Adam Paul (Hollywood Residential) found himself fantasizing, "if only she died in a horrible accident that couldn't be helped." Writer Kieran Kennedy knew it was over when he got scabies from his boyfriend of 5 years, a Catholic Priest. Bestselling author Sascha Rothchild (How To Get Divorced By 30) realized it was over when she didn't want to invite her husband to her 30th birthday. One of the audience-generated stories: it was over "when I broke out in full body hives every time he touched me."
There were also several speakers who struck a blackly comic note. Author Dennis Danziger (A Short History of a Tall Jew) spoke about what it was like to be married to a manic depressive who refused treatment. New York Times contributor Sandra Kobrin married someone she knew was "boring, stubborn, stupid, and cheap" because of the pressure she felt to repopulate her family after the Holocaust. Bestselling author and New York Times Modern Love columnist Amy Friedman recounted the time she spent seven years waiting for a man to be paroled, only to find eighteen months after his release that "on the outside, together at last, we never had a chance."
The crowd of around 75 was made up of Divorce section bloggers, HuffPost fans--divorced, married, and single. And despite tale after tale of heartbreak and betrayal, the mood was light, there was a palpable camaraderie, and the room felt more like a stand-up comedy club than a pity party. After the speaker portion of the event, host Carlos Kotkin told the Huffington Post, "I think a lot of people sympathized with the stories and related to them. They were so heartfelt and sincere and touching, and it was about how they grew as human beings. Most of these people went on to find more fulfilling relationships."
Sarah McBride, who is single, joked after the event: "This evening affirmed my resolve to never get married." But Andrew Wolfson, whose mother Sandy Kobrin shared her "Moment I Knew Story," insists he's not jaded about marriage. He shrugged and said, "I feel like if you do find the right one, give it a shot."
To see more highlights from both the New York and Los Angeles meetups, click here.