Suit Blames Divorce on Dodger Post-Season Swoon

The therapist stopped talking, closed his eyes and

drew in a big breath as if overmatched by a busy

intersection. Tim knew to wait, it was their second

session.

“Are you familiar with the term, imago?”

There was this other psychologist, the doctor

explained, a man who also received his Ph.D.

from the University of Chicago but went on to far

greater success thanks to a popular theory he

developed to explain why we choose the life

partners we do.

It started with a conundrum in the data. Study

after study found half of all children who came

from a home where one of the parents was an

alcoholic, chose for a mate someone who turned

out also to be an alcoholic. “For a long time we

couldn’t account for it,” the doctor said. “It didn’t

make sense.”

Then this other psychologist came along,

suggesting that we select selection mates trying to

work out unresolved issues from childhood, some

pain or injury inflicted by our parents.


“What your partner isn’t giving you, is what you

didn’t get as a child,” he told Tim, his weak blue

eyes now fixed on this balding, middle aged father

and successful businessman who sat with his feet

crossed in the Scandinavian armchair covered by

a blue and yellow Mexican blanket.

Tim answered too quickly. “We must be from the

other half doc,” he said. “Neither of Marie’s

parents drank much and I may overdue it

sometimes, but I’m a long way from being an

alcoholic.”

The old man considered Tim’s response a moment

and then nodded and scribbled something on his

notepad.


***


The Friday Kershaw took the mound in the opener

of the 2016 NLDS with the Cards, Tim and Marie

had been married thirty years, eight months,

eleven days.

When the time came, she asked him to leave.

Their house was big and comfortable and there

was a pool in back for cooling during the hot

Sacramento summers. She had spent a lot of time

and energy making it nice. Tim agreed she should

be there. He hired two strong young men with a

truck. They followed him through the house as he

pointed out the odds and ends that would form his

new life. The guys had girlfriends that came along

in another car. The girls smoked and chatted while

the boys worked. Once the truck was loaded,


everyone followed Tim into the foothills to the

cottage.


***


The therapist tried another tact. “You said you

were an artist when you first met your wife, what

happened? Why did you give up your art?”

“Ben was born, I needed to make some money.”

“How did Marie react?”

Tim looked past the doctor at the wall and the

Modigliani prints. It took him a while to retrace

through the years. When he had it, the scene was

vivid, there was an argument. It stunned him. He

thought she would have been pleased that he was

stepping up, taking on responsibility. But she

wasn’t. She was crying.

“I was so shocked at her reaction,” Tim said. “She

really wanted me to stay with it, but there was no

way. I wasn’t like my dad or even my brother

Francis. I’m not talented that way.”

The doc waited.

“I was right, I made the right choice,” Tim was

convincing. “It worked out. I’ve made a good

living since, sent to kids through UC.”

“Your father was an artist?”

“Yes, successful – at least to the point of paying

most of the bills, until he couldn’t and then he

taught – at the JC first and later at UCLA.”


“He must have been hard to follow.”

Tim didn’t answer. He was still back in the studio

down the alley off Fourth Street. He and Marie

were young. It wasn’t a real studio, that’s just

what he called it. It was a garage, Tim’s

grandmother let him stay there.

When he got out of high school and didn’t take to

college at first, he thought he would pursue art.

Both his father and his oldest brother were

talented painters, everyone agreed, so Tim

focused on rock forms, metal and pottery. He

spent most of two years surfing in the mornings

off Neptune and seeking answers and inspiration

in the afternoons.

An old girlfriend dropped by one day with Marie.

They had ridden bikes out from the tree-lined

safety of Torrance. She had a beautiful tan and a

Hawaiian sort of shawl that barely covered her.

After that first day, she came again, often in the

early evening and they would sit on the berm

watching the sun set, make love in the studio on a

mattress no box springs.


***


You had to choose, USC or UCLA. In his

neighborhood, as a boy, that was step one. After

that it was easy as the seasons melted into one

another – the Dodgers, the Rams and the Lakers.

He was different from his brothers when it came

to games with a ball. He played them all well. By

the time he was in high school he despised the


Reds, the Celtics and especially the Giants

because of what happened to Roseboro.

In the meantime he mastered the ocean, first on

sliding rubber mats, later on the board and later

again, the long board. He’d met the boys down in

El Porto for reefer behind the lifeguard station and

then they’d jump into the water.

Because of his dad and because both his other

brothers were scholarly, Tim picked up some

culture along the way. That’s what he tried to sell

the girls later on. A surfer who knew about Blake,

Rothko and Stravinsky.


***


“What about her parents, what were they like?”

“Good people,” Tim said. “Bill passed away a

year ago, a hard worker, an engineer in the aircraft

industry. Linda was a homemaker.”

“That’s it?”

“Not much else to say about them, they were very

average people.”

“What does that mean?”

“Boring. They liked TV games, cards on the

weekends and sang in the church choir.”

“Different from your house?”

“Radical Chic Hermosa? God yes. No telling who

would show for dinner – actors, playwrights,


musicians, some dead broke after a day at the

track.”

“How did Marie feel about your father?”

“Loved him and he adored her.”


***


After the boys unloaded the truck and Tim paid

them off, he drove back into town. The first week

out of the house he spent at the Marriot in Rancho

Cordova, a city where the suicide rate among

recently separated men in their fifties was eight-

five-point-five percent. To make the point, he had

a beer at the Hooters next door before he packed

his stuff and drove back to the cottage.

It took about the same to get to work in the

morning. But the drive from Amador to his office

in El Dorado Hills was far more scenic. The two-

lane country road bounced and twisted his sedan

between the oaks and rocky brown ranches. The

cottage was outside the service boundaries for the

cable outfit and satellite couldn’t connect. Just as

well, after the Dodger collapse, the Giants

enjoyed another freakish run to the

championships. Meanwhile, the Bruins, which

were touted as a Rose Bowl contender, stumbled

and fumbled. October was no fun.


***


“How many brothers do you have? Where were

you in the birth order?”


“I’m four years younger than Francis and Nick,

Jimmy, the baby, is four years younger than me.”

“Middle child,” the doctor said to himself,

scribbling another note.

“You told me before that your father was a

disciplinarian – how so?”

“You’d get dropped-kicked if you fouled up,”

Tim said with a smile. “Back of the hand, bang. It

didn’t happen all the time, just when you were out

of line. Different age.”

The doctor seemed to nod. “How did your mother

react?”

“She didn’t interfere, shit there were four of us

and someone was always breaking something or

causing some problems.”

“What was she like?”

“Warm, loving, unconditional love,” Tim went

quiet. “She died two years ago too.”


***


No TV but the public ration station boomed into

the cottage. Classic music during the day. Jazz at

night. Tim had a tendency to isolate, so every day

he tried to make contact with another person.

Work didn’t count, he wondered if sitting with the

doctor would. He found a meeting of the

Democrats of Amador County – must be at least

three of them; he went to a meditation group in


the basement of someone’s home; and he went to

mass on Saturday afternoons.

He would get coffee at the Starbucks and tune-in

the internet. He hid as he watched Japanese porn.

And then spent hours on the dating sites, flashing

by the faces of women, desperate and old.


***


“Tell me about the breakup, what triggered it?”

“It had been brewing a long time, since the kids

left,” Tim shook his head and looked at the floor.

“We found out, we just don’t like one another

anymore.” He took his time. “She had been

bitching at me for watching too much sports and

then there was this big playoff game and I got all

pissed off and she snapped at me and I got mad,

threw the remote against the couch were she was

sitting and she got up and left the room. The next

day, she’d left me the letter asking for a divorce.”

The doctor waited a moment too. “What made

you love her, what attracted you all those years?”

He thought for a moment. “She loved me, no

matter what else, she loved me.”

“So what happened?”

Another pause. “I think I just used it all up.”

The room went quiet again. The doctor had

Oriental prints on the wall, photos of a wife and

children on his desk, a blinking clock radio

counting down the hour session.

“So what do you think doc – was my father-in-law

a closet Giants fan?”

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