Wednesday, June 08, 2005
My Gawd, the drama.
So, my in-laws have been married for about 30 years. Never happily - both of them are chronically unhappy/angry in their own right, and as a pair they just increase the general level of misery floating around in the world - but 30 years nonetheless. My father-in-law is Dutch, and he fits a lot of Dutch stereotypes - very outspoken, certain he's right, certain that if he just asks enough questions he will eventually know just as much as you and therefore be at least as smart as anyone. And my mother-in-law is the Queen of the Passive-Aggressives, never admits to being unhappy but constantly gripes and throws around guilt trips like she's tossing life rings to drowning babies.

But, *I* don't have to live with them, and their constant misery always provides sort of a sick amusement for the rest of us... along the lines of how you slow down to rubberneck at a traffic accident. My father-in-law is always saying absolutely outrageous things, especially if he's been drinking. In fact, it's a family RULE that you're not supposed to call him after 3:00 p.m., because he's always drunk by then. And my mother-in-law is snotty to him 90% of the time, unless she wants something from him. They don't live together, but he pays for both residences, and he pays for her vacations, which they sometimes go on together, and they go out to eat, etc. It's lovely and twisted and bizarre and makes me so happy to know that by dint of his adoption, my husband has not passed those particular genes on to my children.

So, a few weeks ago, my mother-in-law had surgery on her rotator cuff. You know how most of us use a calendar to keep track of the year? Well, not her. She injures herself, usually in a bizarre and unexpected way, at least once a year. A few years ago, she broke her ankle tripping over a mop bucket, another time she got struck by lightning which spooked her horse causing the reins to tighten and break her fingers, last year she didn't have any accidents so she had her breasts reduced... it's always something. And this year's thing was the rotator cuff, which she tore by trying to catch a friend who was falling off a ladder. (Do these things happen to normal people??)

Anyway, so, on the day of the surgery, my father-in-law got up early, picked her up, brought her to the hospital, stayed with her, brought her home, got her set up, and then, once she said she was ready to take a nap, he went home. She woke up later that afternoon and was just in a ton of pain - which she somehow finds absolutely shocking. (I dunno, I always expect to be in pain after major surgery.) So she called my father-in-law at about 7:00 in the evening. Now, let's review - the family rule is, no calling him after 3:00, right? And she made the rule! But she called him, and he was drunk, and he said some typically irritating things - "You're not in that much pain, you'll be fine" type things, plus accusing her of lying about how she felt to get attention, etc. And I agree that he was totally out of line, even though I didn't hear the conversation, because I know how much he likes to get totally out of line.

Up to this point, this is all a very typical, normal, weekly sort of event between my in-laws. The weird part is that apparently this was the proverbial straw/camel combination, because my mother-in-law has suddenly announced that she wants a divorce.


After 30 years? Because he was snotty on the phone? Where is this coming from???

It's all very bizarre. I'm not even sure that she'll be able to get a divorce - judges in New York are sort of unpredictable, and she could get someone who hits her with the "you've put up with this for 30 years, why now?" logic, which she won't have a good answer for. They can't take the separation route, either, because that requires a year of no "acts of reconciliation," and I don't think she has the willpower not to take a vacation or go out to dinner on his dime for a whole year. In any case, she won't be able to continue living her world-traveling lifestyle, because even if he does pay decent support he won't continue to cover her credit card bills and such.

On top of it all, my father-in-law's health is horrible - he smokes several packs of cigarettes a day, particularly odd when you consider that he's a radiologist, and he has an enormous, pineapple-sized goiter on his neck which he refuses to "bother" treating.

Just a soap opera. But the good news is, it's not happening in my house! My only real complaint is that my husband is totally disinterestd in it all, making it very hard for me to get adequate dirt on the whole situation.