Danny's paperwork was divided into two piles; one that dates back to after the word "party" became a verb but before the first Saturday Night Live was aired, and everything else. His inability to keep order in his life was a blessing, in that it led to him meeting his wife, Jennifer. However, after years of her attempts to organize his life, it was one of the reasons she was doing everything in her power to untie the knot that that kept them in a state of dysfunction for over a decade.
The night they met, Danny had forgotten where he parked his car for the third time in one evening. And he hadn't even been drinking. He basically went in and out of hypnotic states constantly. An aspiring film director, he was either thinking of movies he had watched, movies he wanted to make, or the current movie of his life, which rarely made any sense.
After he found his car, he noticed an attractive woman heading back to a party. He decided to follow her.
"Do I come here often?" Danny asked.
"Excuse me?" Jennifer answered.
"Sorry, I'm working on my sense of humor," Danny said.
"Let me know when you get it," Jennifer said.
"Then I'll have to tag along with you tonight, because it could happen at any moment," Danny quipped.
Jennifer was attracted to Danny for a number of reasons, and thought his pathological disorganization was cute, could be laughed at, and ultimately cured. She became even more enamored when she found out that Danny wanted to become a film director.
Danny was attracted to her Mediterranean features, her sharp wit, and her music. Her dream was to write and record music, creating a new genre that no one could categorize.
As for the genre of their marriage, it started out as Romantic Comedy and was upgraded to Adventure when Danny directed his first film. Jennifer's career was getting off to a good start as well.
However, when Danny's second film bombed, and no one, including his mechanic, would return his calls, he dragged his wife and kids to San Diego where he started work as a technical film director.
Would Jennifer have put up with Danny's permanent state of disarray had he remained a success in feature films? Would she be spending most of her waking hours finding just the right divorce lawyer if he hadn't sold out and started making films about gum disease instead of feature films? It wasn't clear.
But what did become obvious, at least to Danny, was that Jennifer was blaming her stagnating career on Danny, when in fact she could have written and recorded music in San Diego. Danny never shared his opinion with her. He was already in overdraft in their trust account.
The divorce proceeding had begun. One morning, they had yet another meeting with the attorneys to figure out how to divide up their property, and other warm and fuzzy topics. Danny couldn't find the keys to his car, his cell phone, or his letter opener. Jennifer wasn't even irritated this time. She realized that soon Danny would have to fend for himself. What Danny did manage to find was a letter he wrote to her and gave her the night before the wedding. He opened it and read it aloud to his soon to be ex-wife:
You may not believe this now, but someday my "cute" absentmindedness will be a reason why you will want to leave me. I know these words sound as strange to you as if a doctor asked you if your parents had any kids, but you will want to divorce me some day.
Just do me a favor. No, please make me a promise. Please swear to me that you won't take any permanent steps towards severing our ties until you let me read this letter to you.
Before I met you, I was spacey because I knew someone was missing in my life.
Now that I met you, I'm constantly thinking of how much I love you and it's difficult to think of anything or anyone else. Even when I'm talking to you, I lose my train of thought because I'm thinking about how much I care about you.
If you leave me, I will constantly think of the hole in my heart and the vacuum in my soul, and I will still be a disorganized mess, but I won't have you around to guide me through this maze of life and your ability to help me laugh at my disorder.
They didn't get a divorce. The original letter was framed, put on display, and the copies were kept throughout the house so even the organized Jennifer would never allow this magic letter to disappear again, even temporarily.
Ben Goldfarb is the author of Take Two: Nostalgic Futures (www.nostalgicfutures.com). He also runs a coaching practice (www.pdshiftcoaching.com). You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 972-54-319-1148.
Â© Copyright 2009/10 by Ben Goldfarb