The moment I run into someone I haven't seen in a while I'm usually asked the obligatory "So, what have you been up to?" My update usually sounds something like this: "I've just been so busy. Took a Pilates class, not drinking soda, split up from my wife and reading a really interesting book about J. Edgar Hoover." In the interest of journalistic integrity, I feel that I should disclose the fact that one of those statements is untrue, but it's probably not the one you're thinking. What usually follows is something that always leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. Think eating kimchi and washing it down with lemonade right after you brushed your teeth. I frequently hear, "Oh, I'm so sorry," as a response. Hearing the word "sorry" when it isn't followed with "for my dog pissing on your lawn," has always made me feel uncomfortable.
I understand what people are going for, really, I do. It comes from a good place. People want to show concern and, by default, usually spit out a "so sorry about that." Sorry about what? To this day, I still hate when people apologize to me for my marriage. I have consistently found myself faced with this paradox: Do I play into their apology and say "thank you" with the same amount of concerned gusto, or do I take the unpaved awkward road and say "don't be." If you know me at all, then you know I love poorly paved thoroughfares, (thank you very much thesaurus.com for that one) so you can imagine my standard response.
I don't want people to be sorry for me, because I'm not sorry for myself, and to be honest, there isn't anything really to be sorry about. A "sorry" is reserved for hearing of a death, a transmission of an uncomfortable yet curable sexually transmitted disease, or the reincarnation of Jefferson Airplane under a more futuristic moniker. A relationship ended. No one died. No one got Chlamydia. No one released "We Built This City." I'm not sorry, you shouldn't be.
A few people even had the audacity to ask me, "What happened?" Do not do this under any circumstance. When it did happen, I made sure to give them all the extra creepy details of how my obsession with Hello Kitty created a rift in our relationship and how I feel so liberated now that I am romantically involved with an oversized throw pillow.
I still dread running into people who don't read my Facebook status updates, Twitter feed, blog, other blog, or see any of my stand up shows and therefore have no idea what has transpired in my life. I mean, now I actually have to tell another human being what is new in my life. Face to face communication. The moment this happens, I know what's coming. My tax status now becomes the main focal point and to me, it isn't that much of a big deal.
I don't want to give the impression that I'm bashing people who do say "sorry" in these circumstances. This isn't my intention and I am the King, or at least Viceroy, of social mishaps. I once was present at a bar where a couple I'm friends with announced that they were expecting. As everyone was gushing with joy, I had a confused look on my face and asked, quite loudly, I've been told, "So, are you gonna' keep it?" I know. I'm a catch. But the point that I'm trying to make is that Divorce falls into one of those weird social grey areas where you want to show concern, but not too much, and what you say to one person can really piss off another. I always appreciated someone asking me how I was doing. It was simple and clearly showed their concern and gave me the option not to talk about it.
It's always safe to let the other person guide the conversation. If someone wants to talk about it, they will. You don't need give them the opportunity by asking specific questions or offering your condolences. They will find no problem making that opportunity on their own.
And if you're still wondering, I was actually reading The Da Vinci Code.
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