had logo

November 19, 2021

Divorce Party

Nicole Tsuno

You said I do and then you did and now it’s done. The world wants to make it a sad thing, wants to watch you turn your emotions edible. They even market ice cream flavors for this very purpose and they’re right to: nothing feels as bad as a pint of strawberry sorbet studded by broken chocolate hearts. Instead, you announce the divorce via party invite, spend extra for the good cardstock. They have weddings and wedding registries, so why not? It’s simply pragmatic: you’ll need two of everything now. You impregnate your virtual wish list with pastel cast irons and the latest edition of Instant Pot. Neither of you know what sous vide means, but for almost twenty years together, why the hell not.

For weeks you field calls from socially-liberal-but-fiscally-conservative relatives and friends of friends who think they can teach you love, the same ones who enter the kitchen now, hard shoes and boxes tucked underarm, plastic bows waving like urchins. They suck their teeth and assess you with cocked heads. What you’re doing is cool, they say, but in a way that makes clear it’s a qualified kind of cool, like spin classes or Starbucks merchandise.

Since you’re both being so open about it, some will draw you aside and ask what really happened. They want bad investments and small traumas and repressed sexual desires for the cartoons of your childhoods. Their eyes glitter as they hold your gaze, searching. But you can only shrug and say the truth, which is that he’s the kind of person who can sleep with the closet doors open and you’re not.

Some think it helpful to superimpose their lives on yours. They share their own frustrations: illogical dishwasher configurations and Sunday football as a tactic of disarmament. Most think you’re brave; they could never do it to their kids. You nod agreeably before corralling them to the living room where you dole out eraserless pencils and sheets of paper. The game is called Split the Assets, and requires you to do just that, a line bisecting words into two columns of opposing choices. Papers warp around knees; pencils make weak orbits. Half of the options are ridiculously optimistic, juxtaposing personal chefs to personal gardeners. The last is the most contentious: all the furniture vs. all the electronics. When it becomes too heated, you bring out the vision boards and invite the guests to contribute via magazine cutouts. The scissors flash, and soon your board is filled with Tudors and labradoodles and Pepto-pink dildos.

At the door, it's mostly platitudes until his uncle brackets your neck with his hands and says, may divorce be with you. And you smile back, but not for the reason he thinks.

After, you both nest on the couch, throw pillows and half-drunk champagne flutes shipwrecked around you. You have yet to decide who will be taking it for good, but for now, you both sit deep in the vaguely-stained cushions, dipping spoons into cartons. There’s no sad sorbet here: it’s caramel cookie dough for him and cherry chocolate for you. It always was. You suck the spoon clean.