Monday, January 9, 2012

The Cranky Divorcee: New Year, Same Attitude

It's been quite a while since I shared my advice for the lovelorn. Now that the holidays have passed, I'm back, ready and eager to guide the foolishly fictitious into making the right decisions in their love lives. But before I begin, I must identify the couples I last advised: the first question was about Mackie and Tate from The Replacement, by Brenda Yovanoff. The second question was about Remy and Dexter, of Sarah Dessen's This Lullaby. I will refrain from commenting on the unusual names that permeate YA fiction today.

Dear Cranky Divorcee,

I’m trying to convince my dead husband that he was wrong about our insane son.  For years, I knew he was troubled—violent, cunning, and hateful.  Now the whole world knows that I was right.  The awful things my son did might be my fault; they might not. I'll admit I hated my son, but he was impossible to love.  What I really want to know is how could I have kept my marriage from falling apart? If I could go back in time, what could I do differently? I thought nothing could come between me and my husband, but as soon as he figured out I didn’t love our son, he turned against me.

-Killer's mom

Your question is much more serious than the ones I usually address. You have suffered. Your entire family has suffered. Everyone who has ever known anyone in your family has suffered.  But as I learned more of your story, I was struck by how little evidence you gathered. If you’re trying to convince your husband that your newborn literally cries all day, record it! Haven’t you ever heard of a nanny cam? If you had confronted your husband with indisputable evidence of your claims at the very beginning, it might have made a difference to your relationship. Of course, he still might have ignored you. Denial can be powerful enough to overcome visual and auditory proof. You kept waiting and waiting for something to happen to convince your husband that something was wrong with your son, but you never changed your tactics. So, if you could turn back time, as the song goes, you should get everything Kevin does documented. 

You could then have given your husband an ultimatum—we get our son professional help (is there therapy for malevolent infants?) or I leave. The thing about ultimatums is that you have to be prepared to follow through on them. I know leaving sounds like a terrible thing to do, but without the weight of your dislike warping him, your son might have turned out better.  I’m terribly sorry I couldn’t give you more uplifting advice.  Sometimes there’s no good solution.

Next: Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before. . .

Dear Cranky Divorcee,

I’m a female homicide detective in NYC, and I’m great at my job. The guys at work can be a problem, but I’m handling it. Even though I don’t want to admit it, my relationship’s becoming a little bit of an issue. The problem is, my boyfriend is nice, hot, supports me in my effort to quit smoking, has an adorable little boy and is crazy about me. He comes with an insane ex, but I managed to get the upper hand on her and her boyfriend. Now that I’ve got them in line, he’s starting to bore me a little bit. There’s no challenge. There’s no drama. What do I do?


I get questions like this all the time, Fedora, and they make me despair. Truly. It’s as though people have someone good in their lives, and then they decide to screw it up simply because it’s not screwed up already. I think there’s a term for that: self-sabotage. Are you trying to punish yourself for your affair with the higher-up who looks like a dying meth addict? (By the way, did that happen before or during your current relationship? I know your medium doesn’t always lend itself to back story).

You have a great thing. You should work on getting the personal drama that you’re hooked on in some other form than problematic guys, cheating, and avoiding your boyfriend. Maybe you can pretend this self-destructive urge is your enemy, like some of the other detectives, and work on winning it over. I’d recommend therapy, but you can’t focus on your current therapist for the thirty seconds it’d take to get hypnotized.
I wish you the best.


  1. In the interest of winning, I'm identifying the first one as "We Need to Talk about Kevin", even though I haven't seen the movie or read the book. Also, both of these people sound like crazy people.

  2. Yeah, I think I tipped my hand on the first one by using the character's name! Oy. You should read it; it's really good. I'd say I'll lend you my Kindle for PC copy, but I don't even know if that's a thing.

    I think both the advisee characters and most of the people are around them are nutty.