The Irene Malloy Affair (excerpt from “All I Wanted Was A Haircut”) by Tom Sumner

The Irene Malloy Affair (excerpt from “All I Wanted Was A Haircut”) by Tom Sumner

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Saturday, 07 May 2016
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There are life-altering moments in every one’s life. Each of these can be accompanied by sadness, pain, realization, discovery, growth and thankfully humor. I prefer the humor and often I prefer it at inappropriate times. But for me (probably too often) that’s when it’s the funniest and most needed.

I am recently divorced. When I say that – people usually look down in sympathy and offer me food. I have gained at least ten pounds since returning from Los Angeles.

My trip to LA was a strange sabbatical into the surreal. The trip back is a story of its own where I imagine I’m in the pony express and discover robots at the Walmart somewhere in Iowa. But alas, I must save that for a future installment. LA has it’s own special weirdness but moving there proved to be a fair weather distraction for me – while the soon to be ex-Mrs. Me decided that she wasn’t coming and that being married to me was only desirable when things were going well. Half of all marriages end in divorce. Each has its own story. I have no intention of boring you with all the details of mine except for the Irene Malloy affair. If you like Pina Colades or reading the ads on craigslist this will be fun. Who says tragedy has to be – you know – tragic.

I worked in LA for about a year. I learned that almost EVERYONE there does almost EVERYTHING on CRAIGSLIST. For those who aren’t familiar with it, think internet classifieds. Job hunting, finding an apartment, used furniture and appliances, and personal ads that are as diverse as anything you could ever imagine. And I can imagine a lot. I know several people from my days as a traveling musician who can imagine even more – but some of these ads would make the most savvy road warrior blush. They’re really quite entertaining. Okay, yes I admit it – I got hooked but I’m getting better. One day at a time, there’s a higher power, etc.

You never know exactly what the defining moment will be in a divorce (or any other life-altering event) until the proverbial light bulb goes off over your head and you exclaim Eureka! For me, it has been the phrase “that’s not funny”- twice. Yes I can number the ex-Mrs. Mes like world wars. In retrospect there were many signs beyond losing appreciation for my often inappropriate sense of humor. Truth is that X2 and I were on a collision course with Karma since we first met. And then I found Irene Malloy’s personal ad on craigslist. I didn’t yet know the nom du plum would be Irene Malloy but when I got the first response signed that way it certainly fit all of the other evidence that this was in fact my wife’s personal ad trolling for admirers.

There is something sort of fascinating and mysterious about blind ads. You never really know with whom who you are talking. We see it in the news with increasing frequency where someone thinks they are talking to a 22-year-old nymphomaniac from Orlando and it turns out to be a 57-year-old factory worker from Allentown. Gender is a coin toss. You only get the positive spin and just enough information to make you want to know more. It’s like those obnoxious overdone television news teases about what’s coming up after the commercial. They never tell you it’s in the last segment of the broadcast. “Is it going to snow tomorrow? We’ll have that and more after this word from our sponsors. We’re back and be sure to join us at 11:00 to find out if it’s going to snow tomorrow.” It really isn’t all that hard to believe that Elvis reportedly shot out his television on one or more occasions. If I had a piece of steal – I’d be tempted on a daily basis.

There was something hauntingly familiar about this Irene Malloy. The more I read her ad the more she sounded like Madame X. She wasn’t an X yet so it was a special kind of moment. Imagine if you will for a minute reading an ad posted by the woman you are in the process of divorcing screening replacements. I’m not sure what or how I was feeling – but I was definitely feeling something. Let’s just say I wasn’t exactly in the mood for a Pina Colade.

What should I do? Should I confront her? There was only one course of action that would fit my long-cultivated adolescent humor. I had to respond.

Dear Tall smart funny blond:
(Remember – I didn’t yet know she was to be called Irene Malloy.)

I am amazed. I am in the process of getting divorced from the love of my life. I have loved this woman for nearly 25 years and thought there could never be another woman like her – and there you are. You sound so much like my future X that I had to write. I think I meet all of your requirements except for the height. However, I am very tall when I am sitting down…(That is not an exact quote – I didn’t save the mail – but you get the idea.)

I got a letter back encouraging me to find someone not so much like my future-ex and asking flirty questions that required response signed Irene Malloy. I didn’t recognize the reference right away so I googled it and discovered that it was a character from My Fair Lady. Of course it was – in keeping with Madame Xs love for the theater and all things Irish. So the e-mailing back and forth – the flirting and pushing away – began.

Bear with me for this next part it’s a little tricky like a variation on Abbot & Costello’s “Who’s on First” routine. I wrote to the mysterious Irene Malloy under my own name. So she knew it was me and I suspected who she was and she knew that I suspected but she knew for sure and so on…

It’s funny enough that we flirted on-line for a couple of weeks but it turned sour fairly quickly and resulted in our breaking up on-line just as we were in real life. So, I decided that I should post an ad of my own to craigslist. One that SHE would see and know it was me (as I had known) and it would make her feel all of the things that… well, you know that part. Just fill it in with horror stories from your own experiences. I took a big drink of my Pina Colade substitute and composed myself – and my ad. Under Men Looking for Women it said (more or less) that I was a Single White Male in my late 40s seeking a tall smart funny blond who is late all the time and has a complete disregard for how her actions impact others. She should be a bad housekeeper and smoke and drink heavily but be intolerant of bad behavior in others. She should believe that children should be seen and not heard and be foul tempered whenever anything doesn’t go her way. It went on like this for a few more lines and closed with if this sounds like you please respond – I think I know you already. I exaggerated all of the traits I found unpleasant about the future X. I knew that she would see it and that she would be appropriately agitated. She doesn’t like criticism and she knows that I’m really 50. It never occurred to me that anyone else would pay attention to it.

What happened next was very funny and I needed the funny. It was very theraputic. I had lost a couple of good jobs, my house, my wife (some other people along the way) and probably worst of all – my best friend. But I didn’t lose my sense of humor and there was all of the sudden a legion of women who thought I was funny and charming and didn’t really care about the other things. They were smart and funny women and the e-mails came and went for weeks. All of these beautiful caring women made me feel better. They liked the sarcasm and I suppose the freedom that not being THAT bad affords.

Of course there is a “rest of the story” which I will spare you except to say that I have been blessed with many great friends and I’ve made some new ones. It’s friends and humor that really make the lemons in life less bitter. Sure you can make lemonade but I have a better recipe. Keep your sense of humor, your friends and write a sarcastic craigslist personals ad. You’ll be surrounded with beautiful smart funny women (like me) in no time.

At least I think they were bright and funny women. Maybe they were 57-year-old factory workers from Allentown – but to me – they will always be 22-year-old nymphomaniacs from Orlando.Tom5

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