Sunday, November 4, 2007

Ready, Aim, Divorce

A friend received a card last week, featuring a picture of a noose. This was not meant as a threat to my friend or as a macabre Halloween greeting (though it was Halloween.) It was a divorce announcement. The noose was fashioned out of a belt, apparently the only thing left behind in the departing husband's closet. With symbolism inspired by the season, the card also featured a tombstone inscribed with the letters R.I.P., and the start and end dates of the marriage.

I confess I was taken aback when I heard about the card. In fact, I was taken aback when I first heard about divorce announcements at all, which was just last week, when the New York Times published an article on the subject in their "Weddings/Celebrations" section. []

According to the article, divorce announcements do herald a celebration of sorts, as many of the senders interviewed talked about the importance of reclaiming their lives. The card my friend received was created by the divorcing wife, but when inspiration fails, there are also printed divorce announcements. These seem to divide along gender lines. The home page of Divorce Cards [] seems aimed a bitter guys, with cards saying things like, "My wife left with my house, my car, my money and my best friend... and I miss him." And a postcard with the message, "I lost half of everything I own in my recent divorce, including envelopes. So I am sending you this lousy postcard . . . ."

If this sounds hostile, I found cards intended for the distaff side (as they say in divorce proceedings) that threaten outright mayhem. (Of course these are from Texas.)* Cowgirl Divorce Cards proclaim that husbands are like guns. "Keep one around long enough and you're gonna want to shoot it"Jus' letting you know I got a divorce instead." And "I still miss my ex. . . . But my aim is getting much better."

Some of these divorce cards strike me as pretty over-the-top, yet I realize that strong feelings come with the territory. Catharsis is the purpose of rituals, and if the cards' black humor helps I'm all for it. Because when you are of a mind to inflict bodily harm on your new ex, it's much better to "use your words." As they say in pre-school.


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