I coughed to clear my throat. I felt as though my tissues had been, what’s the darn word? exsiccated, no desiccated? Hell, all dried up! When I tried to get up, I felt friable; Maybe I was going to crumble. Temporarily homeless, the Jones’ boat was the best I could do. Spinney had promised to shift me to something more suitable ASAP. But for now, I was “boat sitting” for the Jones family, and they had allocated the dusty forward berth for the sitter.
Since the divorce, I had no home in the cove, so Spinney’s boatyard in the harbor was my temporary home while I attempted to finish the fieldwork I had started the previous summer.
Over the next three weeks, I finished up the fieldwork, started some local historical work in the public library’s local history room, worked at Spinney’s boatyard, and shifted my living accommodations from the dusty berth on the Jones’ boat.
I also started dating one of the local young women who was a varnisher at Spinneys. For those who don’t know much about professional varnishers, let me tell you: they are real sticklers for detail. On our first coffee date, Karen managed to affirm that I was truly divorced, in a doctoral program, and was not indigent ( poor yes, indigent no). All that answered in the affirmative, I would be allowed to squire her to the movies that Friday night. So we became a local item.
Now, having learned the dangers of close personal relationships with individuals in communities where you do fieldwork, I had been careful not to get in too deep with Karen. However, Karen had recently divorced and wasn’t eager to “sin in haste and repent at leisure”. So we agreed to enjoy each other’s company and leave it at that.
Our former spouses didn’t know this and assumed that we were going at it hot and heavy. So their planned revenge was to date each other to make us jealous. The result was that Karen and I were seen laughing in each other’s company all the time. Not because we had firmly bonded as a couple, but because the antics of our ex-spouses hugely amused us. It was akin to an old-fashioned Comedy of Errors.
In due course, I returned to grad school at the end of the summer. My farewell date with Karen was a memorable evening at one of the harborside restaurants, and we agreed to stay friends.
Around Christmas time, I opened Karen’s holiday card and out slipped a note. Karen filled me in on the local news but saved the best for last. Georgia and Todd – our exes- were getting married. The inevitable had happened, and the next generation was on the way. Naturally, the Cap’n was displeased; his new son-in-law was a lawyer and perpetually seasick. But, on the other hand, Cora, Georgia’s mother, was in heaven over the prospect of having a new grandchild to spoil.
I was past the first flush of anger at my ex and was happy that she had found happiness, even if it had originated as revenge. But I laughed as I imagined the Cap’n giving orders onboard Psyche to a daughter, Georgia, and a son-in-law, Todd, who were perpetually seasick. Perhaps he’d have good luck with the newborn?

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