You can find any number of television dramas that paint a picture of divorce as a sort of dark-comedy type of adventure, where one approaches middle age with a reprise of adolescent discovery, only knowing now what you wish you knew then. To enter the world of the post-marital meltdown is to descend into a sort of parallel universe, one that operates in the same physical space as the world of well-tailored soccer moms and well-manicured cul-de-sacs, with the latter demographic taking no notice of the former (and to a certain extent, vice versa). One can occupy this world for the rest of one's life -- the equally-wayward friends, the late-night parties, the torrid liaisons -- or, if one is fortunate, and with adequate recourse to Divine Grace, one can eventually evolve beyond the "need" for such diversion, the illusion that there is an escape from the consequences of one's past.
On a day like this, two articles are worth mentioning. One is my own, written for this occasion just four years ago.
It was twenty years ago today, that I came home from work, and found a note in the place of my wife and son. If you want to know the extent of the damage that divorce can cause, you can read this piece ... or I can tell you what it cost me.
The other is a piece by Austin Ruse for Crisis magazine, entitled “The True Face of ‘Happy Divorce’ is Quite Ugly.” He describes a recently released movie, The Way Way Back, the story of a teenaged boy who spends the summer at a beach house with his divorced mother and a coterie of equally-dysfuntional adults of a certain age.
There’s lots of drinking and some pot smoking and silly cavorting on the beach. All the adults act like adolescents while the real adolescents are disgusted. They are disgusted not simply in the way adolescents might always be disgusted. They have a reason for their disgust, which is the way the adults are.
Liam James stars as Duncan, the boy lost in his mother's faux-fantasy, and who is taken under the wing of a water-park operator named Owen, played by Sam Rockwell with just the right amount of attitude. According to the Catholic News Service (CNS), the movie “is to be commended for portraying the friendship between Owen and Duncan as natural and innocent, a surrogate father-son bond that is mutually beneficial. It is devoid of the sordid sexual content one half-expects from Hollywood these days.” The film earned a percentile rating of 87 from Rotten Tomatoes after its premiere one year ago this month, and last fall became available on DVD and Blu-ray. All told, it should serve as an effective cautionary tale for those who would glamorize life in what was once called a "broken home."
The CNS classification is A-III (adults), and the MPAA rating is PG-13 (parents strongly cautioned -- Duh.)