My first husband, The Loser, was a radio DJ – and very much into the “Sex, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll” lifestyle. He was also an alcoholic, drug addict, AND emotional abusive. You might say that I won the dysfunctional trifecta when I married him, and those four years were a low point in my life. However, I did end up two beautiful daughters – so even knowing what I do now, I would probably do it again (except this time, I would probably skillfully murder him once I was pregnant with #2 – thus bypassing another 18 months of married misery and years of unpleasant interactions after that). I should have known better than to marry The Loser – there were more red flags waving than at a 20-car pileup at a Nascar race – but I ignored them because I was young, pregnant, insecure, and felt that marriage was the only option.
Because of his vices, The Loser and the Law frequently interacted. I remember that while we were still dating, The Loser decided that we needed to make a road trip to his old stomping grounds of Rock Springs, Wyoming the weekend before the 4th of July. He wanted to meet up with some old friends who, coincidentally, were going to sell him some “incredible” weed – and he wanted to stock up on “real” beer and fireworks – both of which were illegal in Utah. If I used footnotes, one would go here explaining that Utah only sold sparklers and such, and the beer topped out at 3.2% in alcohol, which was only slightly better than water, according to those like The Loser, who loved to get their drink on.
We made the trip without incident, but spent a great majority of our time in Rock Springs at a local bar with The Loser’s friends, where I nursed one drink and watched the three of them get plastered. When it was time to go, I reached for the keys, but The Loser grabbed them out of my hand, insisting that he was fine to drive. The Loser was large and intimidating – and, as I’ve mentioned, I was young and insecure – so I didn’t object again and meekly got into the passenger seat. An hour or so later, just as we had passed over the state line back into Utah, the alcohol finally caught up with The Loser and he quickly pulled over to the side of the highway, telling me that he was going to be sick. I helped him out of the driver’s seat and into the passenger seat – and then dodged out of the way as he proceeded to projectile vomit on the road. Just about that time, I noticed flashing lights and a highway patrol car pulled up behind ours. The trooper and his partner got out and came to investigate the problem. I’m sure they did not buy my story that I had been driving, but they let it slide. What they didn’t let slide was the fact that there were cases of illegal beer and fireworks in the back seat. After some spirited conversation with The Loser (which included choice phrases on his part like, “You fuckers” and “All of you are assholes!” the troopers took pity on me and told me that they wouldn’t take either of us to jail, but that they would be confiscating the illegal product. The rest of the way home, I endured a monologue from The Loser about how we were targeted just because those officers wanted our booty for their own 4th of July party (if so, I sincerely hoped they had a great time!)
Once our first child was born, I went home to stay with my parents for a few weeks, as The Loser did not feel it was his responsibility to care for either of us during my recovery. The first or second night I was there, my mother came to get me about 2am, telling me that The Loser was on the phone. I took the call in the bathroom (yes, the dream house had phone lines in the bathrooms – don’t ask me why). The Loser was hysterical and in tears – and my first thought was that he had been in an accident. But what had actually happened was that The Loser had been arrested for drunk driving and was using his one phone call to tell me to get him out of lockup. I gently reminded The Loser that I had just given birth, I was two hours away, and that it was the middle of the night – so there wasn’t anything I could do. To be honest, I can’t remember how The Loser obtained his freedom – but I vividly remember sleeping on the floor of the bathroom that night as I took his frequent calls. He first let me know that the car had been impounded and that he was now wandering the streets of Salt Lake City with no way to get home. I had to walk him through the process of going to an ATM, pulling out some cash, and explaining how to get to the Howard Johnson’s so that he could get a room for the rest of the night.
Many years later, after the Loser had been fired from many jobs, divorced by two more wives, and had been in and out of rehab with no success, he was basically on the streets. He had already been arrested for forging checks and was staying in cheap hotels when he could scrape together the cash. Due to his reputation, he was unable to find steady work – but things started to look up when one of his ex-father-in-laws offered him a job with his construction crew. The Loser had stolen pain medication from this man years before, but he was a kind and forgiving soul who hated to see anyone in a bad situation. One day, shortly after The Loser started to work for him, his ex-father-in-law gave him enough money to buy lunch for the crew at Wendy’s. The Loser took the money, but decided to keep it for himself (one can only speculate what he did with that money). He realized that he could not go back to work without lunch for the crew – so he drove to Wendy’s and ordered lunch for everyone. When it was delivered, The Loser then proceeded to rob the Wendy’s – grabbing the food to take with him when he left.
Have I mentioned that The Loser was not a very intelligent man? He was quickly tracked down and arrested – and I was sure that this time, The Loser was going to state prison for several years. Luckily for him, his judge was also a kind man, who instead allowed The Loser to spend a year in-patient at a local rehab facility and then several more years on probation, on the condition he submit to drug tests and stay sober during that time. It seemed to stick – last I heard, The Loser was still sober and driving trucks for a living.
I remember as we were going through counseling trying to save our marriage, the therapist took me aside one day and told me that I needed to start treating the therapy as divorce counseling instead of marriage counseling, because The Loser flat out refused to give up his drugs, alcohol, or other women. She told me that she had seen many men like him, and that they usually came to see her when they were old, wondering why they were alone and unloved. She was right – while The Loser may have his sobriety, his health is bad, he looks twice his age, and he has no real relationship with his children. It is a pretty heavy price to pay for his years as a bad boy