What Not to Do When You’re Meeting Your Older Man’s Ex-Wife for the First Time: Part 2

Patrick’s ex-wife’s name was Deb­o­rah. She didn’t get up from her chair behind the teak desk to meet me, but I offered my hand and, some­what reluc­tantly, she took it. She was a small, full-figured woman who was obvi­ously quite a few years older than I was. As most women do, she sized me up as quickly as I did her. I couldn’t help but notice the resent­ful look on her face.

She was wear­ing a Chanel suit, dark stock­ings, and pumps. I was wear­ing a grey Donna Karan suit, dark stock­ings, and pumps. I had pur­posely tried for an androg­y­nous but clas­sic look, know­ing that my age would be enough incen­tive for her to dis­like me. I was right. Her eyes flashed with either resent­ment or anger, I wasn’t sure which one it was, but I under­stood imme­di­ately that she was not going to be my ally.

I had a moment where I felt sort of sorry for her—and then I got over it. She and Patrick had been divorced for years now. Surely, she had met pre­vi­ous girl­friends. I made a men­tal note to ask Patrick about that later.

As we tried to force some kind of ordi­nary civil con­ver­sa­tion, poor Patrick was try­ing to force an imme­di­ate rela­tion­ship, sug­gest­ing we all go out for drinks at Oprah’s new restau­rant. Nat­u­rally, I declared that I thought that was a great idea. But Deb­o­rah declined quickly and firmly, look­ing Patrick in the eye when she said, “I have far too much busi­ness to con­duct here today. So, no thank you.”

That was my cue to leave, so I replied, “Per­haps another time then,” and I called her “Deb.” Admit­tedly, that was my fault and I should not have pre­sumed to be so famil­iar as to shorten her name. It was really a slip of the tongue, but it opened the win­dow for her to promptly end the con­ver­sa­tion with, “My name is Deb­o­rah, don’t ever call me Deb or Deb­bie,” com­plete with a cold, hard stare.