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Divorce and “Escape,” the Pina Colada Song

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2015 | Divorce

My family was traveling back from North Carolina from our vacation today just cruisin’ and playing the radio, when an old familiar song that I hadn’t heard in quite a while came on. It was not a song about divorce, but that’s my point.

It was Escape (The Pina Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes. You may recall the song. The protagonist is lying in bed while his lady slept beside him. He picked up the paper and found a personals ad (the song is a bit dated that way). In the ad, someone professes to loving Pina Coladas and making love at midnight. The ad ends, “then I’m the love you’ve looked for. Write to me and escape.” 

Our protagonist waits not a minute to prepare a poetic response professing his love for the same things and concludes, “I’ve got to meet you by tomorrow noon and cut through all this red tape, at a bar called O’Malley’s, and we’ll plan our escape.” 

By now, you may well be humming the song to yourself in your mind, remembering its very upbeat tempo and melody.  And you probably already know where I’m going with this post.

Our protagonist admits that he didn’t think about his sleeping lady as he wrote because he was tired of her, they’d been together too long and had fallen into the same old dull routine. 

Here, we have a classic example of growing apart to the point, not of walking away but needing an escape.  And, by escape, I take it that the writer of the ad and our protagonist mean to literally run away together, though it could be these two were looking for a tryst, a temporary escape. 

Of course, the unthinkable happens.  Noon at O’Malley’s arrives and in walks our protagonist’s now “lovely lady,” who, upon seeing her man, our protagonist, sighs, “Aw, it’s you.” This is where Holmes really carries the song because of the smile in his voice when he quotes her.  She’s almost bashful.  He is certainly elated. 

Now the sound of screeching brakes in my head. WHAT?

These two folks were ready, willing and able to cheat on each other at a minimum and leave each other at a maximum. Their clandestine rendevous is only undone when they discover that they were to tryst with each other. And they are both pleased with that? 

I guess that is a possible conclusion to this scenario, and to a fair extent, I would never see this conclusion in my office because these two odd folks would not come to me for a divorce, at least not at moment. Maybe one of them might visit me in the next day or two, after the personals ad induced rejuvination of their relationship subsided and they had time to reflect on how dishonest they were being with each other.

There are fairy tales and then there are Grimm’s fairy tales.  This song is an example of the latter. It’s a variation on the father leading his two children into the woods to die, at the insistence of their step-mother, only to be elated when they miraculously escape the witches’ oven and return home. Dad’s pleasure that the children escaped the fate he made likely for them hardly makes for a hollywood ending.  Prosecution is still in order!

Maybe, truly, this absence of analysis of the situation works for some, however, I can’t picture them so much as tying their shoes succesfuly, given their pleasure at discovering that each was willing to make love at midnight with someone else.  

Rather, I would expect the surprise meeting to break into acrimony and recrimination.  Of course, that wouldn’t have made for a love song.

But even recrimination would have been inappropriate, for neither do two wrongs make a right nor can one complain about the mote in another’s eye while ignoring the beam in his own. The right, though most elusive response when they uncovered their mutual chicanery, is acceptance.  Sit down at the bar, have a drink, write out an acceptable settlement agreement on a napkin, and let it go. That, or some serious therapy!

If I am wrong, if my old, jaded divorce lawyer eyes see it soley through that prism and I have failed to succumb to the romance of the piece, please write to explain it to me.

Until I am shown the error of my ways, though, I’ll maintain that what this couple needed was authenticity. When she felt compelled to write the personal ad, that should have served for her as the line in the sand that her relationship was over.  When he responded, he should have felt that same crossing.

But then, perhaps that is exactly what they did and why they felt there was no going back, hence their need, their willingness, their intent to “Escape.” As another song goes, “there’s 50 ways to leave your lover.”

Michael Manely