Prunes and Prism

RULES FOR YOUNG LADIES: Some arch advice on snagging a husband. Exercising the mouth into a pretty shape through repetition of certain words seems to have been an indoor sport for young nineteenth-century girls; in Little Dorrit, Charles Dickens' overly bred girl repeats, "papa, potatoes, poultry, prunes and prism." (

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Dame of Maiden Lane

I have just returned from the office of my divorce lawyer, which is on Maiden Lane. Getting a divorce seems like far too Tanqueray-drenched and dame-y an endeavor to happen in a place called "Maiden Lane," where everybody should be wearing Bo-Peep outfits.

While I was filling out a form in the outer office, one of the other lawyers answered the telephone and the conversation went like this:

"Oh, hi. Yeah, yeah, I'm still waiting for your police report."

"Well. Well, you're not supposed to share that kind of information."




"Listen, I don't think we should discuss this over the phone -- you should come in. It sounds like you've just dug a bigger hole for yourself at this point."

At least I'm not that guy, I thought.

Something you should know if you're planning to split up in New York: No-fault divorce doesn't exist here. The closest thing is to file a marital separation agreement, be legally separated for a year, and then file for divorce. If you want things to happen faster, one party has to file a claim against the other on one of a few specific grounds. I won't go into what they are, but suffice it to say they're humiliating.

What's happened to me? A retainer should be something you leave on your cafeteria tray.


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