Dear Pinky and Spike:
(Continued from Letter 39)
Once off the phone, Ralph was sure he had made the right decision, but he didn’t allow himself to visualize his hopes — which meant he had to stay busy. He visited the HR Department to divide his deferred comp and savings plan in two, with half going into an individual account for Rebecca. Instead, he ran into a bureaucratic dead-end. He didn’t understand why, but he was told that “because of the Internal Revenue Code” this couldn’t be accomplished in a single day. As soon as he heard the phrase “Internal Revenue Code,” he knew he was not going to get what he wanted today. When he was rebuffed by the clerk at the counter, he insisted on seeing his supervisor. Rebuffed by the supervisor, he asked to see the supervisor’s supervisor. After a brief wait, he was ushered into an office bigger than his own where he was greeted by the head of the Human Resources Department, a woman who reminded him of Irene.
He found himself telling her about his separation and the upcoming meeting, and how he wanted to make sure Rebecca understood he intended to behave honorably and in good faith. He didn’t say how he hoped Rebecca would express her gratitude.
Although he didn’t get the division accomplished, he did get a letter from the head of HR explaining that he had expressed his unequivocal intent to effect the division, which would be accomplished as soon as the department received the necessary documents.
The letter was better than nothing.
He took the letter across the street to a store that sold everything. He selected a “Let’s be friends ...” card and put the letter inside. He bought a large bottle of Rebecca’s favorite drink, Drambuie. Rebecca would know that Ralph bought it especially for her, since he didn’t like it. Ralph asked for the correct glasses for drinking Drambuie; two very large glasses were recommended, and Ralph purchased those, too.
Once back in his office, Ralph couldn’t work; he couldn’t even stay in his chair, so he walked in circles around his desk. When Rebecca didn’t appear at 5:30, Ralph was frantic. He was sure she had forgotten about their appointment and was out with one of the guys she fancied in top management. Ralph was pretty high in the company’s hierarchy — in the top third anyway — but he knew Rebecca had made friends with two of the men in the top 10 percent. He was sure she was with one of them.
At 5:40, he forced himself to sit in his chair. He had just learned about Mindfulness Meditation, so he tried to do it. He wanted the neurons in his plastic brain to lay down new pathways having nothing to do with Rebecca. He couldn’t do it; the old Rebecca Neural Pathways were just too deep. So he waited mindlessly — which can be hard to distinguish from mindfulness.
At 5:47, Rebecca’s arrival was signaled when the door to Ralph’s office flew open and crashed into the wall.
“What’s wrong with you, Ralph? You look like you’re in a trance or maybe dying.”
“I was meditating.”
“Meditating? You poor man.”
She had been in the room for less than a minute and already Ralph knew it wasn’t going to be the kind of meeting he had hoped for; it was going to be the kind of meeting he dreaded.
She looked like Rebecca, but she wasn’t. She was a hunter going in for the kill, and Ralph was the only meat in the room. Their greetings were strained. Ralph didn’t offer her a drink, but she saw the bottle and poured herself enough Drambuie to justify the size of the glass. Ralph quickly handed her the card in an attempt to change the mood. “Rebecca, this paperwork is for you. When I knew you’d be here tonight, I did everything I could to get a separate account set up for you as quickly as possible. It will be funded with $75,000 from my deferred comp account. You’ll also get half the accumulated dividends, interest and realized gains.”
Rebecca opened the envelope and read the card, “Let’s be friends? Ralph, don’t you get it? We’re getting divorced.” She read the letter slowly; once done, she adroitly floated it onto Ralph’s desk and asked, “Where’s the rest of it?”
“The rest of what?”
“The retirement money, deferred compensation money, whatever you want to call it.”
Ralph was puzzled. “I just gave you half, and I’ve said that you can have as much of the stuff we bought during marriage as you want. I’m waiting for that lawyer of yours to decide how much support I’ll have to pay. It’s going to be enough for you to live well for a couple of years. Isn’t that enough?”
“Enough? Are you kidding? I figured it out. If I got $75,000, my compensation for everything I did for you would be about $375 a week. I think you’d agree that what you got was worth a lot more than that.”
“Rebecca, I hate when you talk like that. Say what you need to say and let’s call it a day.”
“I don’t have anything to say, Ralph, other than you owe me the other half of the savings — the whole $150,000 — and then some.”
Ralph was amused. “How do you figure that?”
Rebecca’s face softened as she laid out four sheets of paper on Ralph’s desk. The time had come for her to be the Smart One and the Powerful One and the One Who Was Right. She was ready for her performance of a lifetime. I’ll describe what she did and how she did it in the next letter.