Pete Dumbowski in Book Six: Trying to Hold On 2019

  • Nov. 14, 2019, 6:48 p.m.
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  • Public

Today is the first show of my play. It isn’t the public showing; it is the Charity Showing. Public shows start tomorrow. I have mentioned repeatedly that my character is… well… basically me. In so many ways as to be uncomfortable and unfair. So I wanted to give you a full character description to rather prove my point.

Pete Dumbowski is the little brother to Julia Shelby. Julia is a successful restaurant owner and master chef. Pete is best-friends with his brother-in-law Thomas Shelby. Thomas and Julia have a young daughter named Charlie who is very interested in Karate. Peter and Thomas’ friend J.D. is a florist and is married to Allison, an attorney. Allison is very pregnant with their first child.

Prior to the start of the play, it is revealed that Peter has been going through a divorce. His family seemed to expect it, but Peter is not handling it well. He is known either as a push-over or overly-nice-guy (depending on who you ask). Pete didn’t date that much in school and the absolute failure of his marriage is taking a massive toll on him. However, as his friends and family rather expected this outcome, they seem to be “tired of” Pete’s attitude before the audience even sees Pete for the first time.

Pete arrives late to Thanksgiving dinner and tries to put on a brave face for his family and friends. Compounding matters, immediately before entering stage, Pete has had a massive car accident. Still, he tries to power through… despite being very upset. Tom is very upset at Pete for showing up after cancelling earlier that day. Julia welcomes Pete with open arms and Thanksgiving dinner starts. Unfortunately, it is quickly revealed that Pete has given everything he has… not because his soon-to-be ex-wife is demanding or cruel; but because Pete has been so accustomed to giving his wife everything in order to try to make the marriage work. Pete gave her the house and helped her change the locks. Pete closed his dental practice because he couldn’t imagine just… living life like normal when everything in his life was definitely not like normal. Over Tom’s objections, Julia offers to let Pete stay with them until he’s feeling better.

Morning of Black Friday and people are up and active early. Julia and Tom go shopping; Charlie and Pete start to prepare the house for Christmas Decorating. Charlie and Pete are interrupted by a young, beautiful red-head who lives down the street from Julia and Tom. Pete is overcome with an anxiety attack; unsure of how to behave while interacting with a beautiful woman while still being married but not married. He is very confused about what the proper social protocols would be. The red-head introduces herself as Emily and Emily and Pete begin to get to know each other. Emily’s husband had died of Cancer a few years prior and Pete and Emily have a significant amount of things in common. Julia and Tom come back from shopping and Julia begins haranguing Pete for making an absolute mess of her house. Emily leaves and Pete lingers as she exits. Allison, J.D., and Charlie encourage Pete to ask Emily out on a date; but Pete is quick to remind them that he is married and will not be doing that.

The act opens with a montage to signal time passing. Between Black Friday and Christmas Eve, it is seen that the family is preparing things and Pete is… going through his life. Pete is having massive emotional difficulty with his new situation, his family is “putting up with him” but not really interacting with him or talking to him about things. Pete and Emily almost maybe kind of not really, the hint of a possibility think about kissing under mistletoe. Julia screams at Pete to clean up the mess he’s made of the house.

Christmas Eve Julia and Tom are throwing a party. Pete has no interest in attending. He doesn’t want to spend a night “celebrating and socializing” when his world has crumbled and his heart is breaking. Julia makes him change clothes and come to the party anyway. As Pete changes clothes (off stage), J.D. and Allison enter. Allison conspires with Julia to make sure Emily will be at the party. As all characters (except Emily) return to the stage; it is established that Tom has started rather mocking Pete as a coping mechanism for dealing with Pete’s depression. Tom honestly thought it was a mistake for Pete to marry in the first place, and the fallout Pete is going through simply proves him right. Suddenly, Emily shows up. She is dressed in a festive mini-dress and fashionable heels; looking both alluring and adorable. Everyone is happy to see her except Pete. It is too much. At this exact party one year ago, he was there with his wife. The idea of being here as the only single person (excepting Emily) is too weird and too upsetting and sends him into an anxiety attack. Instead of letting him breath, leave, or collect himself… Julia and Tom tell him to (essentially) suck it up and make an effort. Pete tries his best but… the anxiety overcomes him and he yells that he is going to be alone for the rest of his life. In an attempt to make him feel better; Emily tells a story about how hard it was to resume “normal life” and the first Christmas after her husband died. However, Pete’s family and friends see it more as an opportunity to explain to Pete how “the Holidays make people crazy.” Tom tells the story of he and Julia’s first Christmas together. J.D. and Allison tells the story of their first Holiday (Easter) together. The stories certainly have “and then this awful thing happened” to them but both stories are more “Love Conquers All” as opposed to “Healing After Loss.” Pete tries to tell them how those are all wonderful stories but… they suck for what he’s going through. It isn’t like his soon-to-be-ex is going to burst through the door asking for him back; it isn’t like his soon-to-be-ex-family is going to keep him in their lives. And it isn’t like his soon-to-be-ex is deceased and he has to adjust to life lost. The plain truth is “love conquers all” is bullshit or, if that’s the lesson, clearly Pete wasn’t loved by his soon-to-be-ex. And if that is true, then he wasted over 5 years of his life doing everything he could to make his marriage work when, apparently, he was NEVER loved to begin with! Emily exits with Charlie, protecting the child from the argument brewing. Julia, Tom, J.D., and Allison begin to argue with Pete. HOW can he say he isn’t loved when he has friends and family like them?! HOW CAN HE SAY he is going to be alone when he has friends and family?!? Pete basically yells back. It isn’t the same! Sure, Julia and Tom are family. But they are THEIR OWN family. The Shelby Family. Sure J.D. and Allison are friends. But when that kid pops, they are going to have their own family and their own world and all new “too busy” moments. And Pete will be there, the odd man out, no wife and no kids and nothing to hold on to. Julia, Tom, Allison, and J.D. start mocking Pete for being morose and self-pitying and stuck in a depressing introspection. They keep telling him that he has to get back to normal because he’ll see everything is okay. Pete explodes. They aren’t trying to help him through his divorce… they just want him to stop being a drag. He admits to Emily, who returns unexpectedly in the middle of the argument, that she is incredibly friendly and incredibly lovely. Tom and Julia confront Pete about how he was never happy in his marriage, is better off for it ending, and maybe if Pete ever got over himself he’d see that there was at least the possibility for a lot more joy in his life after the divorce!! Pete is… fed up. And leaves in a huff. Exits and says “Goodbye forever!”

Another signal of time passing. Christmas Eve to New Year’s Eve. Nobody has heard from Pete. They feel bad about how things ended. But Tom is still steadfast in that what happened needed to happen because Pete needed to see how he was driving everyone crazy.

Julia, Tom, Charlie, J.D., Allison, and Emily are preparing to leave together to a New Year’s Party at Julia’s restaurant. Julia is lamenting Pete’s absence and everyone is supporting her, being understanding, and explaining that Pete will come around.

Pete shows up with gifts for everyone and apologies to everyone for his recent behavior. He explains that he didn’t date much in school and felt like he was being left behind by his friends and family. So when he found a girl that liked him, he rushed into it without thinking if it was actually a good match. It was really REALLY hard for him to accept that maybe possibly the divorce could be good for him. REALLY hard. But he did know that the marriage hadn’t been great. So… ultimately he signed the divorce papers and decided to see what the next chapter of his life would be. Everyone smiles and hugs and on the way out the door, Emily and Pete hold hands. THE END.

SO… right off the bat, I want to give a giant middle finger to the final Act/Scene of the play. It is the most Hallmark Saccharine Fantasy Bullshit. Pete feels gutted. His family and friends are trying to help by “getting him to the next stage of his grief” as soon as possible. Instead of dealing with his anxiety and grief. But that’s okay because Hot Redheaded Magically Appearing Pixie Dream Girl is there and ready to help Pete feel appreciated in a way his Wife never had. That’s a nice fantasy but about as believable as the play ending with Pete revealing himself to be the actual Santa Clause.

Up to that point though? Fucking. EErie. And to those who can’t figure out how… well… for my marital issues, Prosebox has been a fairly sizeable part of those “family responses.” Whether it is Thomas who wants his friend to “get back to being a buddy”… or Julia who wants her brother to “feel safe and comforted as long as it doesn’t inconvenience anyone around you”… or J.D. who tends to take everything that Pete says and make it about JD… or Allison who thinks as long as Pete has his house and swimming pool, he shouldn’t feel bad about anything. And I’ll tell you… honestly… truthfully… regrettably… if a magic wand was waived… and I was at MBFITWW’s place or at my brother’s place… and a beautiful woman walked in and wanted to be my friend and showed me any interest and developed an emotional connection.... yeah. Maybe I’d be willing to buy the final scene of the play. Because a guy that put his everything into a marriage… and the marriage still failed… and even after the marriage failed, this guy is willing to just roll over..... that guy doesn’t “feel better suddenly”. He needs (sad as it is) someone in his life to reach out, make him feel like he still has value, make him feel like… there’s hope that his future won’t just be a bleak and lonely existence.

As it is right now? Well… I suppose it will be interesting to see how Wife responds to the play. Because even though Pete’s wife isn’t in the play… it will give my wife a chance to see the kinds of conversations and thought processes I’ve been going through. Because of course she has no idea. She’s so incapable of considering other people that she still says things like, “We’re not that bad” after seeing a TV Show or Movie where a couple is about to divorce. Sweetheart… seriously… how can you think that? After 3 years of marriage, we hadn’t had sex. And I told you that the emotional and relationship damage of that time made me almost 100% convinced that we should get divorced. We didn’t. Now, five years later… we have had sex in that time. A few times. Periodically. When Wife was totally blitzed on alcohol. And the emotional and relationship damage hasn’t been healed. And it has gotten worse. And over the last 230 days… the no sex, no kisses, strained relationship continuing to be strained… bullshit… how in the living fuck can you think we aren’t close to getting divorced?!

Because I’m Pete. Because Pete didn’t file for the divorce, his wife did. And that’s the largest difference. Pete’s friends and family saw him in this marriage where he wasn’t happy; but he was trying his best. His best wasn’t good enough for his wife, so his Wife filed for divorce. Fine. But my situation is unique.... in that my best IS good enough for my Wife… at least good enough for her to want to stay… but her version of “trying” is… weak and painful. But do I have the strength to admit failure and walk away? Do I have the ability to look at this woman, one of the few who have ever chosen me, and tell her to leave my house, leave our dog, and try to figure out her life on her own… without a job… without a home… without a direction?

As I said… it will be interesting to see what Wife thinks of the play.

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