Saturday, November 01, 2008

She wanted a divorce:

When I was twelve, I read a thin book of funny letters that people had written to lawyers. I remember exactly one letter from this book. Unlike everything else in it, this one caught my attention enough to make it come back to me, every dozen years or so:

I want a divorce. I'm not sure my husband is the father of my children.

Well, duh. Who could be that dumb? At age twelve, I knew the facts of life better than she did. Now why did this letter stick in my mind? Setting aside the possibility that the entire book was fiction – a possibility that never occurred to me in my youth – the letter always bothered me. There had to be some other explanation. Nobody is that dumb.

Perhaps the letter kept coming back to me as a demand that I must solve its puzzle. Well, I think I've solved it. The only fault of the woman who wrote the letter is that she did not have the capability of expression by writing*. I will explain by rewriting her letter, and then I will explicate. I'm adding exactly one word:

I want a divorce. I'm not sure my husband is only the father of my children.

In other words, the woman suspects that her husband is also the father of other women's children. Definitely grounds for divorce! I feel much better now.

* By the way, in 1974, when I needed to hire a hardware designer, I read many resumes, including one that ended thus: I also have the capability of expression by writing. We didn't hire him, even though he was able to design hardware.

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