Spilling "all" in her fast-paced memoir, Rinaldi introduces readers to the men of the internet, such as Vanilla T, Mango Sorbet, Pralines and Cream, and Mocha E. With so many flavors there for the tasting, Rinaldi finds entertainment, adventure, attention, and, you guessed it -- sex -- just when she needed it the most. So come along for the ride, as she dates the successful and quirky, the fascinating and eclectic, and even New York City's Bravest.
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From Divorce Court to the Ice Cream ShopStories, Confessions & Weblogs Inspired by Internet Dating and a Dirty Divorce
By Anita Rinaldi
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Anita Rinaldi
All right reserved.
It took years of therapy to decide to leave. No "eureka" moment. Just a slow realization that it was time to leave my husband, my partner of sixteen years, the father of my daughter, my lover.
Umm. Not exactly. It was time to leave the man I hadn't had sex with or kissed passionately in, well, half of those sixteen years.
How that sexless situation came about remains something of a mystery. I know I'm not an unattractive woman, and men like my company as much as I like theirs.
"You're a beautiful gal," one man I'd been dating recently, had a fondness for telling me. Aside from apparently being stuck in the 1950's, he is a successful New York-based camera director and is used to looking at attractive star quality women. So he should know.
I'm also pretty good in bed, as most men, including the director, haven't shied from telling me. I'm uninhibited and definitely not missionary-style only.
So, if you're even thinking I was the cold fish in that sexless marriage I called my own, you'll have to revise your thinking.
Indeed. It would be more accurate to say I adore sex. Perhaps even more than Sex in the City's Carrie Bradshaw adored shoes. All-day-explore-everything-you-can sex is my favorite.
Given that I'm not unattractive and both like sex and do it well, it's not surprising, then, that my computer engineer of a husband did, in fact, accept his regular birthday blowjob up until the end. Sometimes in bed. Sometimes sitting at his home office in front of his computer.
Once I'm pretty sure he was programming at the same time. But it would never advance to actual male/female sex. I'm quite certain I didn't even get a "thank you."
But, there was a bright side. What would turn into an almost all-consuming divorce that spanned over three years called for an outlet. I found that outlet in the scoops and scoops of men I met through a certain internet dating service I like to call the Ice Cream Shop.
That shop transformed my life into a fun-filled adventure from one that could have been pure nightmare.
Yes, the men I met were often - but not always - likened to ice cream cones. That is, if I dared to take a lick and stayed around for another.
Dates with the men of the internet were always a welcome diversion and often an adventure. At least if I went in with a willing-to-do anything attitude. And that I usually did.
Take, for instance, the film director I dubbed "Mango Sorbet" for his fruity, sometimes pungent, eclecticism. Mango and I began with the traditional exchange of emails that internet daters know so well.
After flirting in cyberspace and then briefly on the phone, we set a date, meeting at the world-renowned, model-filled, Schillers Liquor Bar on Rivington Street in New York's Lower East Side. There he planned to treat me to our first rendezvous, a low risk brunch at a high-energy hot spot.
Maybe it was the bustling scene. Or maybe it was his quirky intensity, but everything seemed bigger than life and magical, including the Bloody Marys, which at the time, seemed to be the most amazing I'd ever sipped.
Ignoring the cool light rain that had begun to fall, we segued from brunch to a neighborhood gallery-hop. We saw everything from provocative supersized photographs of Afghan women in Burqas to a curiously satisfying installation that involved an actual tree. The tree was admittedly no longer living, but it had died a natural death, we were assured, and was strategically - and horizontally - placed through the gallery and one of its interior walls.
Before the day was over, Mango and I decided to follow up the Bloody Mary brunch with a Bloody Mary tasting a week later. Sampling a variety of the tomato-based vodka infused cocktails at an unbelievable variety of restaurants in downtown Manhattan, we compared, contrasted, analyzed, and debated the merits of those we thought were best and why. And yes, we got a little tipsy. And yes, we kissed passionately in front of his apartment building before I headed home.
That second date was followed by a Bloody-Mary making "competition" at his apartment! After scouring the shelves of a nearby Whole Foods market, we returned to his co-op. An awkward "hello" to his doorman was the only stilted moment in the evening. We arrived at his perfectly decorated metro-sexual apartment to experiment.
We poured various vodkas, crushed tomatoes, and ground pepper. We grated fresh horseradish. Recipes were flying, lips were sipping, spoons were concocting. We had our fun and slid into his to bed, not even considering if we were hungry for dinner.
And there you have it: Computer click, three dates, a few Bloody Mary's, and I'm no longer thinking about my divorce or my ex-husband to be. Really.
As easy as that. I had received a much needed dose of entertainment and adoration from the slinky, smart, sweet, confident man that I had dubbed "Mango Sorbet."
My husband wasn't so lucky. He never received the honor of being given an Ice Cream flavor nickname. That would have required at least a kiss, a brush on the cheek, or a tingle of excitement.
For my husband, closed mouthed kisses and tentative hugs were about where we stopped. The aforementioned types of kisses and hugs were acceptable outward expressions of affection that friends and family would interpret as meaning that all was well in the household.
Ten years into our relationship and one child later, when it came to the husband, the "real thing" was not in the cards, no matter how hard I tried. Picture a moment: A full day of entertaining has come to an end. My husband's friends have left, and our child is asleep. I'm in the kitchen finishing up the dishes, and he's arrived to tell me what a great hostess I was.
Well, maybe not. Perhaps he's arrived to open the fridge for a beer. Whatever. I make my move, nonetheless. A hug, accepted tentatively. A look. Lips brush, gently touching. Tongues begin to probe. Beep. That was what I hoped for. Instead, he turns his face away.
"Constructive Abandonment," I told my lawyer as we filled out the divorce papers. Most couples use that pithy phrase in New York's divorce world for convenience sake because "no fault divorce" is not an option.
Technically, "constructive abandonment" means that one spouse tried to initiate sexual relations, and the other refused for at least a year. Even my attorney didn't believe sex was absent for that long. But in this case, it was true. Yes. The "constructive abandonment" had lasted more than a year. Quite a bit more.
But don't feel sorry for me. That's definitely not my goal.
It's not my goal even as I tell you the lack of "intimacy" was not just confined to the bedroom or my husband's office chair. As my attorney would marvel, "He has the emotional capacity of a cold rock." She wasn't far off. Even when it came to dramatic life events.
Where was my husband when I was discharged from the hospital with our first and only child? Well, he was late, because he "slept in" at our apartment the prior night - and the two nights before - to be sure he was "well rested!"
Where was my husband when I had the sonogram for our second pregnancy, which determined the fetus hadn't developed? And how about when I was told the French abortion pill would do the trick (but it didn't) and, then, that I'd need a D&C? Well, he was home, and didn't even bother to give me a hug or a pat on the back through the ordeal.
Where was he after our world collapsed during the 9/11 catastrophe and I - like one in five New Yorkers living or working near the tragedy - suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Well, he was, um, I guess, too busy to realize that I was suffering or find out how to lend support.
Well, you get the picture.
In the end, I stuck it out, eyes open, for longer than most women would have: I was with my husband for sixteen years before hiring a lawyer and filing for divorce.
Why? The threesome we called a family was cozy, if nothing else, and was working. It was working in many, many ways. "Rinaldi-Dalen Incorporated," you might call it. And it was a great, often fun, efficient business.
There were lots of other benefits. After putting in fourteen hour days on Wall Street for fifteen years, I felt like I had paid my dues. The pull of full time mommy-hood seemed far stronger than the attraction of big fat paychecks direct deposited into an account that was piling up at a faster pace than I could spend it.
Call me short-sighted. In retrospect, I was. But at the time, I wanted a 1950's-style nuclear family, and I was willing to play my part.
My daughter was nine months old. I had already taken my three month maternity leave and had the opportunity to watch the promise of a perfect day care center turn into a first-time-mommy-nightmare. Think crying infant, borne of your loins, by herself in the crib room, lying in spittle, poop, and a very wet mattress.
The final decision came shortly thereafter, when I presided over the resignation of our full time nanny. She had replaced the nightmare of a day care, but proclaimed one day that she had enough of the nanny business. And she announced this without notice.
It was at about that moment I became not only willing, but more than ready to become a stay at home mom. And that I did!
As a stay at home mom, there were definitely benefits. It is almost cliché to say about children "they grow up so fast." Me. I never said that. Not once. I was there for every minute, and at times it seemed like my daughter was growing up a bit too slowly.
After all, how many consecutive hours can a former Wall Street Vice President play the voices for a battalion of little toy Playmobile people? How many hours can she spend cutting paper snowflakes or shaping playdough? How many hours can she help line up marbles on a train track? Many, hours, it turns out! And I loved it.
I cared for our child - by choice - without a full-time or a part-time nanny. I played and spent so much time with her that I can truly say I didn't miss out on anything. And when she started school, I took morning art classes, painting and drawing from life models. Life was good.
So don't feel sorry for me. That's not even my goal as I tell you a little bit about the divorce itself, which has been more drawn out and painful than I ever could have imagined when I filed.
As I write, it has been over three years since I filed for divorce, an action I sometimes regret in moments of weakness and low checking account balances. Three years? How could that be, you ask? Well, it happens when you live in New York and your bitter workaholic husband suddenly decides he needs full custody of your child. When that occurs, watch out.
Unless you're willing to give it all up, it will be a long and complicated road, with the calendar set by the New York Family Court system.
Three highlights of the process touch the tip of the iceberg when it comes to divorce-by-trial. For instance, I have been "financially deposed." That is to say, I have been questioned for days, under oath and with a court reporter present, about every check written and bank deposit or transfer I made during the five years prior to filing.
And, under court order, my family and I have been put under the scrutiny of what the court system calls a "forensic" psychiatrist. "F-o-r-e-n-s-i-c," I learned, as in, looking back and unraveling the causes of the "death" of the marriage. As in, "do we really need this guy to tell us what went wrong?"
In practice, it meant hours and hours of private meetings with a strange bedfellow to the court system who recorded our statements word for word and then followed those meetings up with multiple visits to our home. Those visits were to observe my relationship with my daughter in a so-called "natural" setting.
And then, there was the trial. Eighteen days, drawn out over almost a year. And the waiting. For closing arguments to be written and for a decision from the judge.
But there is so much not to feel sorry about. There were a lot of decent years.
On top of the whole stay at home mom paradise, my husband had made a windfall in a Silicon Valley Startup before we were married.
After that stroke of financial luck, he retired at age forty, taking flying lessons in a single engine Cessna, learning new computer programs, and coming along on family outings with our daughter, sometimes treating us to adventures on his plane.
But, there is more to not feel sorry about.
We had two residences: One was beautiful duplex three bedroom three bath apartment in Manhattan. To buy it, we actually engaged in a bidding war with a Victoria Secret lingerie model.
I won't tell you her name, but I can tell you that one Saturday afternoon, while still mulling over whether to make the purchase, we brought a male friend into the apartment for a second opinion.
The model was there. Our friend, he didn't see the apartment.
He didn't see the apartment at all. He just saw her. She was dark haired, and she was from Russia. And she was, and still is, beautiful. And that's all I'll say, although we did buy the petite but stunning apartment, despite the lack of advice from our friend. But only after placing the winning bid against the model.
We also have a five bedroom home in the Hamptons. It's on 100 feet of bulk-headed bay front. There, we play in the water, collect stones and shells, kayak, sail, windsurf, and doggypaddle.
You get it: Weekly paradise for a city family.
My life. Yes. It was pretty sweet. That is, if you didn't think about the lack of intimacy and sex. Or the loss of confidence and self esteem that can go along with a long term loveless, sexless relationship.
Yes. It was my decision to leave. I couldn't live without a real "partner," one where all that love, intimacy, and sex stuff were part of the package.
As I write, the "me" in this story remains mired in a divorce battle. More specifically, a painfully drawn out custody battle.
A little blindsided, I was, you might say.
I thought the divorce would be amicable. But instead, I, the stay at home mom, found myself being pushed and pulled through the New York court system by a man who claimed to want full legal and residential custody of our now 11-year old daughter. And, he was ready and willing to drag me through a full-blown trial to get what he wanted.
Although I will share a few more tidbits about the battle in an upcoming chapter, for now I will not burden or bore you with further details of this never-ending-fight.
But I will point out, in all likelihood, you would nod with understanding if you found me spending every waking moment thinking about the angst, money, and time going down New York Family Court lane.
You might also see how I might have a full out nervous breakdown, like some of the other women at my daughter's elite, all-girl private school, navigating through similar marital disaster zones.
Likewise, you might empathize with me, if you found me slipping into depression, as I have been known to do, in what is now my previous life. After all, a good part of the last three years was spent watching my hard-earned savings skid full speed in the direction of an astoundingly large number of parties involved in my divorce action.
Needless to say, I am not doing any of the above.
Excerpted from From Divorce Court to the Ice Cream Shop by Anita Rinaldi Copyright © 2010 by Anita Rinaldi. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
2. Surviving Divorce in Four Easy Steps....................13
3. A Lonely Evening in November....................23
4. First Tastes....................37
5. My First Cone: One Luscious Scoop of Vanilla....................47
6. The Firemen....................61
7. The Divorce Gets Nasty....................69
8. Oh! The Panty Cure!....................75
9. I'm Not Sure This is Fun....................79
10. Floating in Flavors....................87
11. Delightfully Yummy....................93