My Cousin Vinny

The classic 1992 court room comedy starring Joe Pesci and Marissa Tomei is still a highly quotable and overall enjoyable film to this day. So, that being said, I'm going to completely contrast hilarious courtroom hi jinks of the 90's with my incredibly heartbreaking and somber courtroom experience I had on Wednesday, September 14th, 2016. Honestly, I'm beginning to despise Wednesdays. For some, it marks the middle of the week, inching everyone ever closer to the weekend, but, for me, it marks a day my wife abandoned our marriage, and a day my wife officially divorced me. So, fuck Wednesdays. Thursday, you're still okay, buddy.
So, yes, my lawyer called me last minute to attend court, as her lawyer and mine were hashing out the dissolution of our marriage and they apparently came to a swift agreement. So, I had to leave work and hump it out to Atlantic City Courthouse to finalize my divorce. I met my attorney in the hallway on the second floor, completely ignoring her, as she did me, and he gave me the basics of what was about to transpire in the courtroom. Shortly after that, we were all called in and sat at our respective tables. Mine had a plaque that read: "Defendant". Nick, Nicky, Nicholas, Mr. Bruno, Randy Watson, I had been given many names, but never defendant. It was surreal.
We waited on the judge, as he was in his chambers, presiding over another matter. So, we waited for around 15 to 20 minutes. In that time, my ex sat with her new b.f.f.l. (Best Friend For Life)/lawyer and they proceeded to laugh and joke about many a personal thing, that I clearly would have no knowledge of, in any capacity. In short, she was happy. A police officer had entered the court room who had known her attorney, she introduced him to my ex, and they flirted...right in front of me. I can see them now, recalling how they met, down the road, at our divorce. That alone was hard to bear witness to, and honestly I wish it upon no one. My ex chose to not treat the divorce process with the respect and gravity it deserved. She chose to act immature and childish. It was heartbreaking.
The judge entered, we stood, then we sat. He laid out how the proceedings would go and what we needed to say. My ex went first. Her b.f.f.l. asked questions they had most likely rehearsed dozens of times prior. It's as if she was acting and she couldn't wait to read her lines in front of everyone. It was, essentially, like a reverse wedding where instead of "I do", it's "I don't , not anymore."
I was next. My lawyer turned to me with the same line of questions. My responses were simple "yes" and "no". I stated them with a wavering voice all while staring at my blue, weathered plaque: "Defendant".
The whole proceeding lasted about an hour, it was the longest hour of my life. Her mother and sister eventually showed up to support her and sat behind me. I acted contrary to my normal, confrontational personality and simply stared ahead, at that plaque, into some fictitious abyss. After the divorce was finalized, she presented papers to change her last name, right then and there; using the final eraser stroke to completely remove me and us from existence forever. Then, it was over.
We stood as the judge left, she walked behind me to exit, I continued to look forward. Out in the hallway, I overheard her state something to the effect of "Thank God it's done." Again, immature and childish. My attorney, who had personally been through a similar situation, took the time to console me. It was kind of him. I walked down to the lot to my vehicle and proceeded to drive back to work. During that 50 minute drive, there was no feeling of relief, no joy, no hope...just sadness. Like that, it was over. Like that, none of it ever mattered.

*Not my attorney


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