Three Stories from Sportin’ Jack: The Divorce Years

Elizabeth

The affair ended both our marriages, but then she married some totally other guy. She liked the rigor and formality of his approach. For example he insisted she call herself Elizabeth instead of Betty. A gimmick, I thought. As consolation, she vowed to attend my funeral. That might be a while, I said. Love lasts, she said. We meet every few years and she always asks about my health. Last year we had coffee in Washington. Her hair is white now, prettier than when she was still dying it. She’s forgotten about the funeral, though, or anyway she didn’t ask.

 

Tom Cattin’

Jean and I lived separately while she explored her prospects with Mr. Potter. I moved into Poolside Apartments and ordered a single bed, planning to live like a forest ranger. Plus I had a little table that that my father had selected from the Oak Room at Fields when it closed and three chairs that I bought unfinished and painted blue—for me and for Jacob and John on weekends. Soon after, a carton arrived from Chicago containing a Zenith Color TV. I called my parents to thank them and my father explained, That’s so you won’t go Tom-Cattin’ around.

 

After the Divorce

After the divorce, explaining to my son Jacob how two such different people got together in the first place, I said that his mother and I at least met auspiciously, at a Sonny Rollins concert. Sonny was touring college campuses, in the doghouse and performing solo because of music world drug frictions. He was stuck in a humiliating shared bill with a novelty trumpet tooter named Maynard Ferguson. Jacob came back and said, I asked Mom and she doesn’t remember anything about Sonny Rollins; she says you met at a Maynard Ferguson concert. No mystery about that divorce, I said.

For more on Paul Strohm’s approach to 100-word stories and the memoir, see Memoir as Collage: The Morphing, Absurd Self and Paul Strohm and the Art of the 100-word Story.

Paul Strohm grew up in Western Springs, Illinois. He has taught medieval literature at Oxford and Columbia. He now divides his time between Oxford and Brooklyn, and writes freelance.

Photo Credit: Olaf Ben

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