Chumsby Gregory Hischak
Excerpted from Farm Pulp
ex-wife is the greatest woman in the world. I mean that. She's
the greatest. One Great Ex. I like her husband too. He's a great
guy. They're a great couple. And I really mean that. My ex-wife's
husband and I, though understandably suspicious at first, quickly
became comfortable together. Aside from being married to the
same woman we found we had much in common. Common interests,
common skills, similar wardrobes. Attributes that women like
my ex-wife were attracted to.
So my ex-wife, her husband
and I had a lot in common. We liked to do things. We hit the
Car shows together. We were all crazy about car shows. Actually
my ex-wife's husband and I were the ones crazy about car shows.
My ex-wife didn't get quite so worked up over these things. We
hit the Boat show and the RV Jamboree. We went to the Mums Fest
and the In-Line Skating Workshop. My ex-wife's husband and I
were mad about In-Line Skating and again my ex-wife, though quietly
indulgent to all our mutual interests, remained unexcitable.
After the three-nights-a-week
Stenciling Workshop started up my ex-wife bowed out, leaving
her husband and me to our excursions. Tight bonds of friendship
had by now woven themselves between he and I. The two of us hit
the Electronics Fair, the Skeet Shooting Championships, the Arrowhead
Mound Mall Grand Opening, and the Warrior Man Workshop Weekend
at the Community College. We watched the return of the buzzards
to Hinckley, Ohio and drove all the way to Erie for the Slovakian
FolkFest. We were both crazy about Slovakian folk music though
our mutual ancestry was Catholic Dutch.
All the things that at one
time I assumed I would share with my wife, I was sharing with
my ex-wife's husband and it was great. We shared a profound,
almost religious interest in trains. Like me, my ex-wife's husband
builds antique cars from kits. His collection of civil war belt
buckles is surpassed in this part of the state only by mine.
On the nights we didn't attend the Stenciling Workshops or Yoga
intensive my ex-wife's husband and I sat at their kitchen table
(formerly my ex-wife's and my kitchen table,) and poured over
our U.S. wheat penny collection.
We never quite understood
but nonetheless excepted my ex-wife's failure to work up any
enthusiasm over wheat pennies. She was like that and she was
great. Leaning against the pantry, she stared at us with what
I thought was a look of bemusement, though my ex-wife's husband
described it more as a blank stare.
night, after a particularly riveting debate concerning corrupt
1906 S mintings I left their table for a glass of milk. I found
a note stuck to the refrigerator from my ex-wife telling her
husband she was leaving him. The same way she left me actually.
The note had been up for about four days and so by the time we
got around to tracking her down she was already remarried and
living down the street.
The mutual disillusioning
of marital bonds only strengthened the camaraderie between my
ex-wife's husband (now my ex-wife's ex-husband), and myself.
Attending the Taste-of-Hamilton, we bumped into our ex-wife and
her new husband. A great guy whom we had already bumped into
at the Taste-of-Zainesville, the Immaculate Heart Barbecue Days,
the Zoo-athon and the Rock & Mineral Expo. My ex-wife's new
husband invited both us exes' over to the house and we accepted.
He was a great guy and she certainly was a great ex.
As it was only about four
doors down from where my ex-wife's ex-husband and I were now
sharing a duplex, we walked over to their house. My ex-wife's
new husband opened the door holding a 1961 Lionel Train model
Caboose that he had just painstakingly finished reconstructing
before our arrival. Blowing the bright red paint dry, he apologized
for not being able to attend the Model Train Convention with
us the previous evening.
The Chair-Lift Maintenance
class that he taught at the Community College fell on the same
night. We assured him it was OK. After all, we had both taken
his class and knew well how strenuous the program was. Besides,
there was another Model Train Convention the following week in
Columbus. We suggested making a long weekend of it, just the
four of us. He thought that was a great idea. He was a great
bumped into my ex-wife and her husband all the time after that.
The HomeShow, the Lawn & Garden Expo, the Crafts & Floral
Show, the Cabbage Festival, the Glass-Blowing Workshop, the Bonsai
Intensive, the LlamaRama, the Monet Show, the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial. We saw each other at Rock City. Stood behind each other
in the checkout at Wall Drug. Discovered we shared the same dentist
and the same acupuncturist, the same florist and mechanic, hair
dresser and tennis coach. We liked to browse at the very same
LensCrafters. Our greeting Cards to each other were almost always
identical. At our potlucks we had to be careful not to all arrive
with the same thing.
Though she's great, all these
coincidences must have finally wore at my ex-wife. At the Bavaria-Fest
Micro-Brew Competition she maliciously drained her husband's,
ex-husband's and my 2nd place-winning keg of May Bock. We thought
her behavior odd, even more so after arriving back at their house
and finding her note stuck to the refrigerator.
My ex-wife's now two ex-husbands
and I were on a bicycling tour of French Wineries when who should
we bump into outside of Villandraut but my ex-wife and her brand
new husband on their honeymoon. We helped them fix a flat and
then rode together up to Rocamadour to see the Shrine of the
Virgin. Everybody knew each other from the French classes at
the Community College. My ex-wife's new husband was a great guy
and invited us all over to their house when we got back to the
weeks later the three of us exs' arrived at my ex-wife's and
new husband's house for dinner.
He taught Thai cooking at
the Night School of the Community College and he had prepared
a fabulous Tom Kha Gai. Excitedly the three of us took turns
describing the Yam Pla Muk that we had dined on at the Thai Pavilion
of the Knoxville World's Fair. Everything was delicious and everybody
had seconds and thirds except for my ex-wife who, though she's
the greatest, didn't seem all that hungry.
Her new husband asked us if
we were attending the Armed Forces Day FireHouse Tour and smiling
we showed him our three tickets and said we had two more.
We saw quite a bit of them
after that. My ex-wife's new husband was really a great guy and
shared many mutual interests with his wife's two exs' and I.
All of us enjoyed flyfishing, gem hunting, hang gliding, papermaking,
falconry, crossword puzzles, orchid propagation, antique farm
implement collecting, Bridge, Match Box Cars, foreign flags and
Polish Air Mail stamps from the 50's. While my ex-wife's new
husband's Archies Comics collection was small, it contained every
rare first-issue missing from our Archies libraries.
We all took up golf.
Our ex-wife, though really
great, didn't take a great interest in golf. She preferred sitting
behind the wheel of the cart while the rest of us practiced chips.
My ex-wife's new husband asked an army chum of his to play as
a fifth. He was a great guy and we all knew him from the ceramics
class he taught at the Community College. We had been his star
pupils and we all hit it off really well.
My ex-wife left her new husband
for his golf playing army chum.
Though initially we were all
taken aback, we forgave them because he was such a great guy
and she was a great ex and it probably couldn't be helped.
four of us bumped into the two of them at the Cerebral Palsy
Walk-A-Thon. My ex-wife's new husband invited us back to their
house afterwards which I thought was real nice of him and convenient
as well. They lived in the same plat where the four of us were
renovating a 19th century barn into a Teens-At-Risk Drop-In Center.
My ex-wife's three ex-husbands
and I had a great time at my ex-wife's and new husband's house.
We compared baseball cards, knot tricks and Raku, which we all
collected. We played double tables of Bridge. As we had all gone
to the same high school we sang the old school songs. All of
us, excepting my ex-wife, had been on the baseball team together
which had caused some confusion at the time as we were quite
similar looking, about the same height, talked very similarly,
had common interests, similar wardrobes, and all responded to
the name Donald, which as it happens was all of our names.
My ex-wife's the greatest
woman in the world. I mean that. She's a great ex, though over
the years now I can't help but become aware of a pattern to her
romantic interests. A repetitive cycle that I've always meant
to question her about.
One day finding ourselves
alone in her kitchen, I brought up the subject. My ex-wife was
washing the dishes and staring out the window vacantly at her
other four Donalds in the yard.
"You certainly seem to
have a lot of Donalds in your life, Sylvie," I said.
Her eyes met mine for just
a brief second before going back out the window. Eyes that seemed
in that brief second sad and pleading and distant and maybe even
a little embarrassed. I sat quietly for a while and then figuring
that the subject of Donalds was not going to be expanded upon
any more, got up and left my ex-wife to join my ex-wife's husband
and ex-husbands out in the yard for Boccie.
gaggles of Donalds on either side of the lawn. Donalds selected
from that bottomless spousal well of Donalds. Donalds like a
favored style of casual shoe plucked from the $7.99 clearance
bin. Donalds easy to slip on and off. Donalds collected like
shoes that were endlessly uncomfortable, but endlessly uncomfortable
in a familiar, easy to slip on and off way.
During the game Donald takes
me aside and quietly whispers that Donald told him our ex-wife
was seeing the fencing instructor at the Community College. It's
the same guy all of us purchased our foils from. He's a Donald
of course and I imagined Sylvie inside the kitchen right at that
moment affixing her note to the refrigerator door with a ladybug-shaped
"I know Donald,"
I say reflexively.
"He's a great guy."