Divorce And The GOP’s ‘Tarheel Taliban’

Quick, someone call the hotline at Stop Torture Now.

The human rights group needs to sound the alarm over two lawmakers who want to inflict cruel and unusual punishment upon every unhappy couple across North Carolina  that wants to divorce and move on with life.

These two high-and-mighty-moralists from the ‘burbs of Bubbabville  have proposed legislation that would force divorcing couples to wait a full two years before they could even file the papers in court.

For you clock watchers, that’s 1.05 million agonizing minutes. And you thought waiting for 5 o’clock to come on a sunny Friday afternoon is  dreadful.

From the law firm of Lennon and Koselke

From the law firm of Lennon and Koselke

To no one’s surprise, state Senators Austin Allran and Warren Daniel are Republicans who think nothing of meddling in your private life. They believe it is their sacred duty under the guidance of God to make miserable couples stay married for as long as possible.

Is your spouse a drunk with a black belt who brandishes a loaded assault rifle after too much liquor? Too bad, you’re stuck for another two years.

Is he a pervert who peeps through the windows of teenagers and cruises adult video stores for random hookups? Hey, you married the bum, now suck it up and make it work.

Being the geniuses that they are, though, Allran and Daniel have thought up a solution to turn spiteful couples into the lovey-dovey pair they used to be. See a shrink and watch your worries disappear.

During their two year legal separation, couples would have to complete classes to improve their communication skills and resolve matrimonial conflict. As if a couple of feel good sessions with a clinical social worker is going to get your lyin’, cheatin’, scoundrel of a spouse to change.

I have my doubts. Most divorcing couples I know already have communicated two essential ideas: He’s an ass, she’s a bitch and they’ve resolved that it’s time to move on.

If approved, this new legislation would create further craziness in the arena of marriage and divorce, which in this state are still shrouded by laws enacted in Victorian times. According to legal history, the “privilege” of marriage here in the Tarheel State is to provide men with “legal access to habitual intercourse,” which in turn forces wives to provide sex whenever their husbands want. The exception, of course is “consensual fellatio and cunnilingus,” which to date are still felonies in this state.

The 'Taheel Taliban'

The ‘Taheel Taliban’

I’ve yet to meet the two senators in question, but I suspect that increasing the penalties for domestic sexual assault isn’t high on their agenda.

As for divorce laws, ours already are among the most onerous in the nation. A couple has to be legally separated “emotionally and physically” for one year before they can file for divorce. Having sex with someone else during this period is adultery, a misdemeanor. The couple even  is barred from privately agreeing  that it’s OK to sleep with others. That would constitute a “conspiracy” to break the law.

They can, however,  have “isolated incidents of sexual intercourse” with each other during the separation. I kid you not. I knew one couple from my own neighborhood where the woman boasted she would “toss him a blowie” every Saturday in exchange for mowing the yard. She’d go all the way if the garbage disposal needed fixing.

Allran and Daniel would end this. Their bill bans sex of any kind between the couple during their two year separation, regardless of how tall the grass is getting. Any violations would result in the judge forcing the couple to resume marital relations or, at the least, restart the two-year clock.

Unfortunately, the ramifications of this bill could prove violent or even deadly.

Beatings, stabbings and shooting among couples do, in fact, happen far too often and the hostilities of divorce proceedings generally inflame already volatile emotions. Children regularly are used as pawns in divorce proceedings and both their physical and mental well-beings are at stake.

“The sanctity of marriage, in their view, is more important than a woman or a man remaining in an abusive situation that could quite possibly end in murder-suicide,” comments Janet Shan for the public policy watchdog group, Hinterland Gazette. “It’s mind boggling that forcing a woman to stay in a failed and toxic relationship is more important than supporting gun control legislation.”

Adding another year to the proceedings would give the mean spirited amongst us more time to manipulate the system and make their spouse’s life a living hell. Such belligerent acts would not surprise me in this state, which is known for its extremes.

For example, North Carolina remains one of only 10 states that still have “crimes against nature” laws on the books. As recently as five years ago, police in the capital city of Raleigh arrested two gay men on felony charges for engaging in sexual relations, even though they were in the privacy of their own homes.

You can see how the lunatic fringe here can do reprehensible things and, in a very real way, cause harm to others who have done nothing immoral or wrong.

In this case, these two lawmakers have earned the right to be labeled lunatics who unfortunately wield real power and seek to impose a third world culture on the rest of us.

I’m not alone in this assessment. A local political commentator who blogs under the name “Thurman” for the web site BlueNC, agrees  and takes things a step further.

“Forcing adults who are ready to end their relationship to stay married a day longer than necessary only makes a bad situation worse,” Thurman writes, “and if they have children, as my first wife and I do, they are the ones who suffer most.

“If Senators Allran and Daniel want to impose their personal morality on the people they represent I would respectfully suggest that perhaps they should move to Afghanistan. I hear the Taliban is always looking for new recruits.”

Your Package Does Not Compute

You know the saying. To err is human, but to really muck things up, you need a computer.

Such was the case with the post office when my mom tried to send me a package by Priority Mail, which is the frugal person’s two-day delivery alternative to Fed Ex.

But due to a comedy of errors – both of the human and computerized kind –  this was not a usual case and it took 10 days for the box to arrive from my mom’s home in Battle Creek, Michigan,  to my place in Raleigh, North Carolina. By the way, that’s twice as long as the pony express would have taken back in its heyday.

Here’s the story.

As some of you know, I have a painful nerve condition in my feet that no herbal remedy or prescription medication has helped. But earlier this month, my mom found a new supplement that held out the promise of relief.

Being the loving mother she is, and excited at her find, she put the supplements in the first box she came upon, one that originally contained a fresh supply of personal checks from her bank. She wrote my name on an address label, dashed to the post office, and paid the extra couple of dollars to have it sent Priority Mail.

Alas, in her rush, she forgot to do one key thing. She didn’t cross out her address that was imprinted on the other side of the box when it was sent by the Bradford Exchange Checks.

No human being at post office caught the oversight and, as we learned, having two addresses on one box befuddles the post office’s scanning equipment.

The shipment history, courtesy of the post office’s computerized tracking data:

Monday – Mom drops off the box at her local post office, with an expected delivery date of two days later. The package is shipped to a central Sorting Center in nearby Grand Rapids where, by a stroke of luck, the scanner reads the side of the package with my address.

Wednesday – The package arrives as scheduled in Raleigh. But our luck runs out and the scanner reads my mom’s address on the other side of the package. Unable to process the contradictory information, the main frame condemns the box to the postal service’s equivalent of purgatory, better known as “Bin A.” This is where thousands of problem packages are dumped for the nigh shift to sort through.

Thursday – Mom calls the post office and gets nothing more than an automated voice tree, which doesn’t have an option for “Sorry, But You’re Screwed. Should Have Paid Closer Attention.”

Friday – I start a round of calls to various postal service employees. Most have no idea how to help and blame it on the all-powerful “computer system.” One customer service representative, however, takes the time to check the records, discovers the problem of dual addresses, and alerts postal workers Raleigh and Grand Rapids to be on the lookout for the errant package.

Maybe their email system crashed, but the night shift didn’t get the notice in time.

Saturday – The box once again is run through the scanner, which deems my mother’s address to be correct, and orders the package sent back to Michigan.

Sunday – One full week after my mom went to her local post office, our luck returns. The employees at the Grand Rapids Sorting Center get the notice, intercept the package before the scanner can have its way, and ships it back to Raleigh.

But alas, the package is still cursed.

On the following Wednesday, my carrier tried to deliver the package, but I wasn’t home to sign for it. Never mind that Priority Mail doesn’t require a signature, that’s just the nature of this tale, one misfortune leads to another.

That night, with no package in hand, I punched the 16-digit tracking number for about the 50th time into the post office’s web site. I learned of the ill-fated delivery attempt and was instructed to fill out the redelivery form left on my door.

Of course, there was no notice on the door.

The next morning, I called customer service again. The agent was baffled at this turn of events and offered to transfer me to my local post office for further assistance.

Even that didn’t work out. The call was disconnected during the transfer.

I had to get back to work, so I left matters to fate. I decided the package would arrive when the Universe deemed it appropriate. Fortunately, that was just a matter of hours. When I came home that night, the package was in my mailbox, no signature required.

In total, my packaged traveled more than 1,700 miles, the equivalent of sending it to the International Space Station seven times.

There is one silver lining in this story. I double checked with the authorities and confirmed that Santa still relies on elves, not technology. For that, we are lucky because without the elves, one miscue would prevent millions from getting their Christmas presents until well past New Year’s.

That would be a disaster. No one should have to wait past the appointed hour to get their new I-Pad, smart phone, or laptop. As we all know, such pieces of advanced technology are vastly superior to mere humans.

Update: After all that, the supplement, like everything else I’ve tried, did not work. If anyone has any suggestions on how to deal with neuropathy caused by chemo, please dash me a note.