I met dave (you’ll find out later why he doesn’t deserve a capital “d”) on a student tour of Europe. He was the leader of the band that played on the ship over and back. One thing that I always found interesting was that my sister Marcia went on that same tour 6 years before on that same boat and the guy she dated was Roz Rudd, a trombone legend.
I didn’t date dave when we met, we just became fast friends.
We spent the whole trip laughing but I was way more interested in the drummer.
dave and I kept in touch though. When he started working for James Brown he never came to New York without seeing me. In fact when he moved to New York with his first wife they lived with me until they found an apartment.
After his marriage we lost touch. It was only when he was in the midst of a divorce that he called me and we picked up our friendship where we left off.
We eventually fell in love and in 1975 we got married
There were certainly ups and downs in our marriage but nwe always felt committed to one another. I absolutely trusted him and he felt the same way about me. He embraced my family as his own. That was of primary importance to me.
He often said that my loving him gave him the security to try things that he’d never done before.
One of these things was sailing. I can’t say I was really happy about that. I found it either boring or scary. That didn’t stop me from going along with him on a series of boats that we owned on practically every vacation. I even had an article published in Sail magazine describing how much I hated sailing
He loved it though. When work was slow he’d plan for us to go down on the boat for a month at a time. To him it was a get away, to me it was my regular life only worse. No refrigerator, no gas stove, no dishwasher plus I was terrified of the ocean.
I think he never tried to teach me to steer the boat because he knew if he ever fell overboard I’d just keep going to the nearest port.
Still our life was pretty exciting. He was a musician who worked with a lot of celebrities.
In the beginning I didn’t have much to do with his career other than accompanying him whenever he played.
It wasn’t until about 25 years ago when his career took off in Japan that I really got involved.
I became his lyricist and took care of most of the side issues so that he could write his music.
As the years went on I took on more and more of the business part of his career. We were known around town as a mom and pop organization. I wrote many of his liner notes and magazine articles and interviews and dealt with the musicians.
Among our friends there had been break ups and divorces. I felt that that couldn’t happen to us. My husband was entirely trustworthy. In business and in life if he gave his word he kept it even to his own detriment and besides, I knew where dave was every minute. We were rarely apart and he was home for dinner every night like clockwork at 6:30
About 6 months ago I watched my husband walking across the room. He was wearing crocs, baggy pants with suspenders and his ‘signature’ captain’s hat.
We had just celebrated our 36 anniversary and dave, we’ll call him “dave” , was asking me to give him a big party for his 70th birthday. We were also discussing the arrangements for a sailing vacation.
I remember thinking I was safe” that guy aint goin’ nowhere.”
Let’s fast forward to a few weeks later. dave was preparing for a tour with his band to Japan.
It was my idea to watch the video.
It was a documentary about Jerry Weintraub, the former CEO and head of United Artists and his wife/mistress arrangement. Jerry has been married for a million years and he has a girlfriend. The wife and the girlfriend are good friends and he goes most places with both of them.
While I’m watching this thinking what an asshole this guy is, Peabrain, I forgot, peabrain, is thinking this is a solution to all his problems. Problems that needless to say, I was unaware of.
We were about to go to dinner next door at our neighbor Liz’ house when dave says.
“I’ve been thinking of that Jerry Weintraub movie. You’re the kindest most wonderful person I’ve ever known and you’ve been a terrific wife”
(these are really his words, I would have added strikingly beautiful). I feel a cold chill starting at my hairline and moving down.
“We haven’t had much of a romantic relationship in a lot of years. I’m going to be 70 and I want a girlfriend.”
That clearly wasn’t him asking me to fulfill that need.
“Why are you telling me this?”
“I couldn’t do anything behind your back.”
“Why didn’t you just quietly go to a prostitute or you are in Japan a few times a year, you could do this there and I would never know.”
Interestingly I used to joke that he could have a whole family in Japan and I’d never suspect. I remember feeling superior when I said that because I knew that wasn’t the case. I trusted him implicitly. As I said before, we were close friends for 9 years before we married. Also when he was in Japan he called me last thing before going to sleep and first thing in the morning.
“I don’t want a prostitute, I want a girlfriend. But I want you too. I don’t want a divorce.”
“What are you saying?”
Although it was clear what he was saying.
“You expect me to wave good bye to you while you go out on a date?”
“Let’s say I accept this. What’s to stop you from falling in love with her and leaving me?”
He gave me a look like “don’t be silly”
“That could never happen” he said
“You don’t know that”
“It could never happen. I do know it.”
“Are you telling me this because you’re hoping it will force me to divorce you?”
“Of course not. “ he said “I love you. I don’t want a divorce.”
Even though I was afraid of the answer I had to ask the question, “Is there someone now that you aren’t telling me about?”
“No, of course not.”
“Never mind,” he said, “forget I ever said it.”
I was a hair away from throwing up.
We went over to Liz’ house. dave was chatting away while I sat there frozen. Finally I excused myself and said I wasn’t feeling well. Liz followed me out. She knew something was wrong.
I said “I think dave has a girlfriend”. She just kept saying “No no”
“Please don’t say I told you. Maybe I’m wrong”
When dave came home after staying at Liz’ for dinner I pretended to be asleep.
During the night I heard a loud bang. I jumped out of bed and ran into the hallway. Dave was lying on the floor drunk and naked. He couldn’t get up. I tried to help him but he was dead weight. Finally I told him if I could get him to the bedroom he could help by pulling himself up on the bed. While I was pulling him down the hall by one foot I said “good luck getting a girlfriend”. We both laughed hysterically. It’s the last time we laughed together.
You are way to wonderful to have to deal with this shit!
Love your first cousin once removed,
way TOO, not to
I can’t wait to read “Friendkeeping”. Don’t you worry, Mattie, you’ve got pleny of friends here
what a loser
do you mean me or him?
Only the Mattie I have known for years (but not seen for many more) could possibly have written this……funny, sad, unbelievable and absolutely a best seller.
Mine left me Mattie when I was much younger; right stuck in the middle of stay at home momness with two little kids. When I was working night and day to parent those kids because of his job. Or what I thought was his job. I was crushed; she was young but I wasn’t that old but I won’t deny this. I was his wife and the mother of our two little girls. He was no longer the center of my universe and I’m thinking that’s true of a lot of families with little kids.He set about to destroy my life, some have said out of guilt (really, how does that work?) and then out of anger because I refused to let him..
I’ve worked harder than I should have had to raising two kids without his help but I wouldn’t trade with him for the world. I did the job I thought we set out to do. He can try to make me responsible for his bad behavior but we both know the truth. He was. Plus…what an old codger he has turned into 20 years later…guess it’s a good thing he left me or I would have to be considering it now. 🙂
Humor always helped me…you have that on your side that is evident. What can I say? You GO Girl!!
I’ll tell you who’s lucky. Your kids, to have a mother like you.
I really do know what it’s like to have the life you thought was a sure thing change in a minute.
Thank you so much for reading my blog and commenting.
OMG – this is not my life — BUT this IS MY life with my Ex… Nice. We all aught to have a divorced wives club. Just saying… Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for writing.
Mattie, how can I send you a photo? Recently a large mural has shown up on a downtown building here of James Brown. Would you like to see it?
I have no interest in James Brown. I’m not with dave any more as you’ll see if you keep reading but I’d love to hear from you.
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org