Once upon a time, Primo, who is one of the nicest guys in the world, and who went to college when he was 16 years old, and was graduated a few days before he turned 20, and who was not shall we say, wise to the ways of women, especially women who might be on the lookout for a Nice Guy with High EP*, met a woman.
Primo had not had many dates. He'd had crushes, especially on Sally, who led him on a merry chase, always teasing, teasing, teasing, if you know what I mean and I think you do. I will say this: Sally is doing much better now that she is on lithium, but she did just recently start an affair, divorce her third husband and marry her fourth (the two in the affair tango), all in just five months, leaving Primo to muse that although Sally is probably the best kisser he has ever kissed, she is also the biggest bullet he has ever dodged.
I might be putting words into his mouth, but he undoubtedly feels that way, don't you honey?
Primo met Isabel . Isabel was cute. I've seen the photos. Adorable. Petite, cute little figure. Pretty face. Pretty smile. And she had two cute daughters. She needed to be rescued. Primo is a rescuer. He has had that tendency beaten out of him, although I have to remind him occasionally that even though he might be accustomed to being around incompetent or mentally ill women, I ran my own life just fine for the 42 years before I met him and I am perfectly capable of putting dishes away without his supervision. Or of washing them. Or of paying bills. Or of buying groceries.
But I digress. Primo was still in the rescuing business. And Isabel was cute. And probably talked a good game. She was in sales. Told Primo she had some hotshot job. Sure, she lived with her mom, but that was so the girls had some stability. She said.
They married after nine months of dating.
Despite Sly and Doris' advice against the marriage.
You just knew they'd be against it, didn't you?
But even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
Isabel was 36, Primo was 24. They'd known each other just a year. They did not go through any pre-marital counseling at all.
See any red flags?
Here's what Primo discovered after they married and what would have kept him from marrying Isabel had he known:
Isabel ex didn't pay child support and she had no intention of pursuing it, even though it was in the divorce decree.
Isabel had never gotten a social security number for her ten year old daughter.
Isabel's fancy job? Yeah. Not so fancy. She made almost no money and was mooching off her mom.
Isabel had not filed a tax return for the past several years.
What do you do when you are 24 years old and you've made a huge mistake but you are an honorable man and you have made a vow that you intend to keep because it's not just you and Isabel but there are also two little girls who are depending on you now? How many years do you help the girls with their homework and make their breakfast and their supper and take them to school before you finally say, "Enough?" because their mother is not what you thought she was?
You stay married way too long. You don't get an immediate annulment or a divorce.
Of all the places you visit your friend and college roommate Sam as he moves in his career, the only one you don't visit is Cincinnati, which is the one place where he and That Woman, who is a friend of Sam's from their on-campus college job, happen to be at the same time post college, which would have been the only opportunity post college for you and That Woman to meet when you were still in your 20s. You didn't meet in college because you were drinking and That Woman had a boyfriend, so she was busy doing other stuff.
Hence, you and That Woman don't meet until your 20 year college reunion, three years after you and Isabel separate. Now burned, you have learned your lesson. You date three years before marrying. Go to pre-marital counseling. Talk, talk, talk about the money. About everything.
If only you'd met sooner.
* Earning Potential, which is what young engineers in Silicon Valley were back in the day, the day being the late 80s.