Last night the Drapers dropped the divorce bomb on poor Sally and Bobby and, holy crap, it all came back. Or some of it came back. It's funny what does and doesn't. For instance, I haven't known for a long time whether I was in fourth or fifth grade when my parents separated. That seems like a pretty big and important fact.
But the little things? They're all there.
Just as Bobby wondered what they were doing gathered in the living room, I wondered why Dad had called us together before his trip out of town. (He was doing a lot of traveling then.) I assumed he was going to tell the four of us to behave and not make it hard on mom.
But then he said -- and I remember the awkward construction made an impression on me -- "When I come back, I'm not coming back." And it spooled out from there. Mom said they didn't want to be one of those couples that "stayed together for the kids" -- they thought this was more honest and better for us.
Dad said we'd probably be happier with him gone, and my big brother, who doesn't talk a lot, very assertively said, "That's not true!" But it kinda was true. There had been lots of arguing and shouting for what seemed like a long time.
Like Sally and Bobby, one sister cried and clung and the other cried and stormed off to her room.
I mostly didn't say anything. I do remember the scissors, though. I was on the couch and next to me on the cushion was a newspaper with some scissors atop it -- the old-fashioned, all-metal kind. I was just fiddling with them, with a finger looped in the round "thumb" handle, and just spinning them around and around on top of the newspaper and staring at them. I was always a fiddler. Still am. To this day I make complete messes out of napkins, beer labels, coffee sleeves, candle wax ... anything in front of me.
And I think my very first thought about it all was, "What would other people think?" There was only one kid in our school whose parents were divorced. I think it was sometime around college where I got to the point where I could just say my parents were divorced without hesitation.
And I was also very conscious of all the divorce-related cliches from TV -- anger at the parents, resenting anyone they ended up dating, rebelling and acting out, etc. -- and was determined not to feel or enact any of them. And I did see the logic of it all. Things would be more peaceful around the house.
Then that afternoon, my Mom and I worked on my Halloween hobo costume. And that was that.
Of course, it wasn't just that, as last night proved.