By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
We were the type of couple who could be honest with each other about how many people we had slept with. Dan could smoke pot and play Grand Theft Auto for hours on end without me getting upset. I could go out with my friends, get drunk and come home in the middle of the night, and he wouldn’t be fazed. We never felt jealous or threatened, and we rarely fought. We were the couple that other couples envied.
While trying on rings, I was vaguely aware that I specifically picked something nontraditional — dozens of beautiful, glistening pave diamonds instead of a larger stone — so I could wear it on my right hand after the divorce. Of course, I kept this to myself. I was planning my divorce at the same time I was planning my wedding.
STEP EIGHT: The invitations have already gone out.
So if I was already thinking about divorce, then why plan the wedding? Because the train had already left the station, and it felt too late to turn back now. And because planning the wedding was fun, exciting and a great distraction from my usual life.
We had only 38 guests, lots of cupcakes and no cheesy band. It was held at my close friend Michelle’s house.
Michelle had just gotten married three months before. The big diamond rock on her finger came with an over-the-top Beverly Hills wedding with fake snow and a fairy-tale dress. Her husband was a successful standup comic. That, incidentally, is STEP TWO, Subset B: Marry a comedian. Comedians are even worse than actors because they are not only battling between total self-absorption and insecurity; they are constantly trying to be funny.
My wedding was perfect. I walked down the makeshift aisle to Joe Jackson’s “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” My friend Mat, who is a talented comedy writer, got ordained online at the Universal Life Church and married us with a tight seven-minute set. Our vows consisted of jokes about Dan’s countless fruitless auditions and my bouts of neurotic rewrites of movie scripts. Nowhere in our vows did we say anything about “till death do us part” or words like love and forever. I ate for the first time in months at our reception. And everyone laughed when Dan’s best man raised a glass and toasted us with “To the best five years of your life.”
STEP NINE: Compromise to the point that both parties are unhappy.
After the wedding, Dan and I bought a condo in the Valley with the money my father gave us for a down payment. I hated living in Venice. Dan hated Hollywood. So we settled on a place we’d both hate: Sherman Oaks.
STEP TEN: Cling to distractions.
The other big postwedding purchase was a giant flat-screen TV we named Ruby.
Dan sat in his chair and smoked pot. I sat on my couch and constantly did my nails. And we watched Ruby together. Hours and hours of TV watching. The next two years became a blur of previous seasons of Amazing Race, Deadwood and Lost. One summer, we watched so much Alias that my cat Spork actually learned how to meow to the opening song. It was as though Dan and I never needed to say another word to each other, because we were now married.
I went to work. Dan went to work. At this point, I was getting writing jobs and he was getting acting jobs. Years before, when we worked at the Improv, we needed each other for support and encouragement and a sense of stability in a crazy, scary town that will eat your soul and then puke it up because it has too many calories.
But we both got to a point where we didn’t need each other so much anymore. And although there was plenty of general contentment, there was no more need. And at the time, we both mistook need for love. So once the need was gone, there wasn’t much to fill up the space. Except for Ruby.
On a Saturday night, soon after my realization that I didn’t want Dan at my 30th-birthday party, he and I were watching Match Point on Ruby. Toward the end of the movie, he pressed pause, turned to me and said earnestly, “If you ever want a divorce, just ask. No problem. But please, don’t kill me.” I laughed and at the same time felt a deep pang of loneliness. He knew me so well. While watching Jonathan Rhys Meyers get away with murder, I was in fact thinking I could just kill Dan. In a warped way, it seemed a better solution. Instead of becoming a cold-hearted, baggage-laden divorcée, I would be a grief-stricken, mysterious widow. Assuming I didn’t get caught, of course.
And how could I want to divorce a man who not only knew what I was thinking, but also had the sense of humor to joke about me murdering him? But watching Dan rock in his chair and take another hit off his pipe, I became certain that knowing someone doesn’t mean you should be married to him or her. Sometimes truly knowing someone makes you see you shouldn’t.
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