Sunday, July 6, 2008

Etiquette for Exes

I just discovered, by accident, that the first ex-wife of one of my brothers died a couple of years ago.

I googled somebody else and ended up at a website set up for my brother's high school classmates who are having a something-fifth reunion this year. I forgot that the guy I googled was in my brother's class.

I started looking around and I found myself at a memorial page which listed all the deceased members of the class as far as they knew.

And there was her name. Wife Number One. With a link to an obituary. Wow. After my brother, she was married for nineteen years to somebody else, had some kids, and died fairly young, so I wonder if it was cancer.

Now, should I call my brother and tell him the news? Hey, your first ex-wife is dead. Or do you not tell people news like that? 

Perhaps I should just ask him if he is planning to go to the reunion. Get him talking about people he knows. And ask if his first ex wife is going to be there. If he says he does't know I could suggest that maybe there's something online so he could find out who is coming back. Typical girl trick.

Of course if I do that, then I'm a real jerk if he says he doesn't care if she's coming, so why bother going to the website. Then if I say, well, guess what, I saw that your first ex wife has croaked, he will certainly be pissed that I didn't just tell him up front.

But if I tell him up front that I discovered she was dead, knowing that particular brother, he'd be pissed about that too.

Lose, lose.

My brother and Ex-Wife Number One, now deceased, dated in high school and got married when he was in college. To make a long story short, it turned out she was married to another guy the whole time.

Knowing how my brother is, he probably gave her an ultimatum when they were dating. We're getting married NOW! He's controlling that way. And she just didn't bother to tell him that the guy she left was not her boyfriend, but her hubby. Probably because that would annoy my brother. She was heavily into avoidance tactics.

She was alsoone of those people who was a beautiful child and grew up to be an even more beautiful young woman. She had Elizabeth Taylor looks, from her coal black hair and alabaster skin to her violet eyes. Unfortunately, shocking as it may seem, beauty can be a curse, because she never bothered to develop a personality or other lifeskills that I could discern. When you don't even have to speak in order to leave men falling at your feet, conversation and intelligence can atrophy. She was so untalkative, I thought she might be a mute or have some kind of speech impediment when I first met her.

Somehow her bigamy became revealed -- ironically around the time my brother passed the bar and started working as a lawyer.

At this point, for those of you keeping score, he divorced Wife Number One. Then he met and married Wife Number Two and they had a darling little baby girl. Unfortunately her birth was soon followed by the nastiest, most prolonged divorce and custody battle in my memory. Certainly in my family.

Afterward, we all lost track of Ex-Wife Number Two and their cute little girl.  But recently that cute little girl started a MySpace page and it was nice to see her pretty face all grown up. Turns out she's now a talented singer and musician. And I noticed that Diana Krall is one of her "friends." I also noticed that she uses her mother's name. [The most obvious sign of a really REALLY bad break up.] Somebody asked me if I would be trying to contact her. I'll get to that.

Unlike Ex-Wife Number One, Ex-Wife Number Two is alive and well. Although if they are like most divorced people, she and my brother both experienced the "wish you were dead" phase. It's the fantasy of everyone in a bad marriage. If only he/she would just die so I could skip the divorce and move on.

As for making contact with the daughter of Ex-Wife Number Two, I wonder how my niece would respond.

Given her long estrangement from my brother and the fact that she uses her mom's last name, not her dad's, she may not want to hear from Auntie Mrs. Linklater unless I'm calling to say her dad is dead.

In fact, just what is the etiquette regarding contacting long lost relatives in discombobulated families? Is a phone call sufficient? Would a formal written note be required? Do I have to hire an attorney?

It would distress Mrs. Linklater to not be correct.


screaminremo303 said...

No good deed goes unpunished. If they wanted to know they would have already made the effort.

Yeah, I'd like to find out my STBE went off an Acapulco cliff into low tide.

sieblonde said...

I don't think sending condolences is in bad taste, family or ex-family.  I'd tell your brother you saw the news and let him do what he wants with the information.  

dafyddhevans said...

Who?  What?  Where?  You found "A?!"  

mombzbe said...

I must be tired.   I can't keep up.

My ex SIL told me the last time I saw her that she likes me better than my brother.  I'm wasn't sure how to take that, but I joked, "Alas, I am spoken for already."  lol

You'll figure it out, Mrs L.   An overture to get past the curiosity is innocent enough, I think.

suzypwr said...

If she was already married when she "married" your brother, then she never really married your brother. So, she is not an ex-sister-in-law. She is a former bigamist who married a second time, not a third. Or did I not follow that correctly? Did she eventually divorce #1 and then marry your brother in a legal ceremony?