I once dated a guy who summed up each of his exes in one pithy line. There was the redhead who smelled like baked organic goods and left him for a woman. There was the way-too-young painter who showed up on his stoop in the rain with a glass bowl of goldfish whimpering like a puppy and begging for love. There were, of course, and in no particular order: the anorexic who made the world’s best mashed potatoes, the bore who in awkward moments would spout knock-knock jokes, the crappy poet, the would-be home-wrecker, the wannabe prude, the Jesus-freak-turned-Wican-turned-yogi, and, uhm, me.
I lived in fear of what I would become. It seemed “the tall, thin one with soft hair who was equal parts wise, compassionate and hilarious” was out of my reach. Would I be “the one who was always hungry and thought magic was pulling nickels from behind kids’ ears”? How about “the one who never remembered to shave”? Fortunately, the guy beat me to the punch. He made me: “the one he dumped on Valentine’s Day”.
While I can’t say I’ve been a big fan of his since then, I will admit that I love that he never named names. Especially since he was one of those types that liked to surround himself with his exes, throwing parties where we’d all stand around ducking knock-knock jokes and wondering who the crappy poet was. As you can imagine, after one particular Valentine’s Day, I didn’t bother showing up for the parties, but the no-name-naming stuck with me, and I thought of it again this morning when I read about Elizabeth Edwards.
Edwards, as you likely know, is the wife of one-time Presidential hopeful John Edwards. John had an affair—one of those headliner fathering-a-child kind of affairs—and Elizabeth has been extremely forthcoming in her thoughts regarding the affair. She grants interviews; she’s written a memoir, but she does it all under a single condition: that the name of the woman—Edwards calls her simply “The Unwelcome Woman”—not be uttered.
As a writer and a thinker, I love that the ‘uttering’ feels too intense to Edwards; as a regular ole gal, I’m a little like, uhm, who are you? The artist formerly known as Prince? I mean, isn’t a Jennifer Flowers a Jennifer Flowers no matter how bitter the smell? Enlighten me, folks. What am I missing here?