A lot of you have heard this story, but it’s one of my better ones, and a good one to kick off the Personal Archives theme. So…

Once upon a time, I lived in Athens, Georgia. In the spring of my junior year of college I began dating the man whom, nearly six years later, I would marry. Fast-forward to sometime during the second year of marriage. Things were going well: we owned a house, had good jobs, I was in grad school, etc. Husband (B) decided it was time to realize his dream of opening his own store/gallery. I agreed, helped him plot, finance, execute plan. Fast-forward another year, and business was booming, so much so that we decided to hire some staff. Finally, a few months later (February 2003), B decided that New Cashier (henceforth to be known as Blacktooth, due to the deep brown color of her upper canines, stained by years of chain-smoking Marlboro Reds) was The One for Him. After 9 years, I was out.

So I coped the best I could with the hand life had dealt me. I found a new place to live, lost 20 pounds, made new friends and reconnected with old ones, got a new boyfriend (who also turned out to be a lying, cheating loser, but that’s a story for another time), and was reasonably happy. For Halloween of that year, two of my girlfriends and I decided to dress up as Donatella Versace. This really just meant we’d wear tacky blond wigs, trashy dresses, and too much makeup. TL and TC both already had sparkly frocks, but I didn’t have anything that fit the bill, so I hit the vintage shops in town. There, in the window of one, was the perfect dress: a knit black-and-silver Lurex micromini. I had some shiny knee-high boots to go with it. Sold. It wasn’t very Versace; really, I ended up looking like a Goth go-go girl, but it was still pretty cool:

So we hit the town. People loved our look, even if they didn’t quite understand it. I left T & T in one bar and went to another with my other friend BC (not a Donatella). And whom should we see in this new place but B and Blacktooth, dressed in matchy-matchy Santa and Mrs. Claus outfits. I froze, then made the fatal decision to have a brief, polite chat with him before leaving. You know, so it didn’t look like I was storming out because he was there. So I approached and we exchanged neutral chit-chat. Blacktooth was looking a little stunned, but she never did have a very lively expression on her face. I noticed that B was looking me up and down, so I asked how he liked my dress. He hesitated and said, “It’s nice. Um. It used to belong to [Blacktooth’s real name].”

You know when you’re so shocked and horrified that, even if you’re in a noisy place, everything in your head goes silent? It was like that. Before I could stop myself, I drew a deep breath and shouted, “This dress belonged to BLACKTOOTH??” (Yes, that was the name I used.) Then the place really did fall silent, or at least the noise level dropped a bit as people turned to stare. And then I stormed out, having realized that that town had officially become too fucking small for the both of us.

I stood on the sidewalk, trying to collect my wits and the shreds of my dignity as best I could while wearing my ex-husband’s girlfriend’s dress. I needed to go somewhere big enough where this kind of thing could never happen to me again. I looked up at the sign for the bar: Manhattan Café. And so the seeds of my plan to move (nearly one year later) were sown. Nothing terrible has happened yet, but it’s only been 2 years.

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