My first wife and I married, divorced, and remarried three times. One might have concluded either that we liked receiving toasters and juice-makers (we had a big, if progressively smaller, wedding each time), or that we really enjoyed make-up sex, which a number of studies have confirmed is significantly more exciting than the ordinary kind after the second trimester of marriage, unless the two partners are willing to bring each other’s fantasies to life through costuming or props or what-have-you.
It gets expensive, divorcing and then remarrying. There are lawyers to be paid, and then wedding chapels to be rented, and airfare to and from Las Vegas to be purchased, and suits to be let out, and (because First Wife categorically refused to be seen at successive weddings in the same dress) new wedding dresses to be bought. Between our first and third weddings, the main flower girl, the daughter of the warden at the detention facility at which FW had earlier been employed as a correctional officer, went from being a rosy-cheeked little cherub to a toothless crank casualty. That’s how long this went on!
Early in our relationship, we agreed that each had to tell the other something no one else in the world knew. I confessed that I had, since seeing the semi-animated feature film in which she’d starred, secretly enjoyed dressing up like Jessica Rabbit and saying, “I’m not bad, but just drawn that way.” (To each his own!) She, in turn, confessed that she’d long secretly yearned for a career in corrections.
I did everything I could to help her achieve her dream. While she attended the correctional officers academy in Petaluma (which, incidentally, would produce many of the TSA’s most overbearing and celebrated airport thugs), I put my own dreams of an entertainment career on hold and processed words — nouns, adjectives, prepositions, the lot! — at a big fascist law firm to keep a roof over our heads, a floor beneath our feet, and walls both in front of and behind us, and to both sides. On graduating, though, she was able to get a job only in the local drunk tank, which she found demeaning. It was all I could do to endure eight hours of the condescension of lawyers who intellectually weren’t fit to wait for the bus for me, and then get home to find her weeping into a bottle of Freixenet.
Thank God she was eventually offered a job at the women’s correctional facility near our home. Which isn’t to say that the new job didn’t have its decided downside. Our first divorce wasn’t to do with our having become unable to bear the sight of each other, or with our sex having become rote and obligatory-feeling, but with her coming to imagine herself a lesbian. Guards at her facility were given a choice between trousers, on the one hand, and skirts and sensible pumps on the other. She went with the trousers and admitted she’d been intimate with one of the inmates. When I didn’t get hurt or furious or what-have-you, one of the inmates turned out to have been every inmate on C-block, except the two who refused both to bathe and to use hygiene products.
When she was hired out of the correctional system to be the chief operating officer of a major Silicon Valley hi-tech firm, she of course had to jettison the trousers. I was reminded of Sir Laurence Olivier’s having famously said that he couldn’t really become a character until Wardrobe had given him the requisite attire. Once back in skirts, Dior pantyhose, and pumps, FW forgot all about lesbianism, and we enjoyed the best sex of our long, if oft-interrupted, relationship. I was happy to pretend to be an intern whom she would summon to her “office” and then ravage, to whatever extent a woman not wearing a strap-on might be said to ravage a man. I think you probably get my drift, though I’m not, as is so often case, entirely sure that I do.