She asks me to look up someone's criminal record, and a bit of (completely legal) Google-fu later, I find something.
"Did you know he was divorced?"
"Yeah," she says. "We burnt his wedding pictures on his first anniversary."
"At least that's not creepy of him." I keep looking. "Can't find anything else."
"I guess so," I say. "He's not a sex offender. At least not in Utah."
"At least he hasn't gotten caught."
"True." I sip from my tea, looking at this public divorce decree. This was something that anyone could see with just a quick search. Utah makes these records as public as a rest stop, and there I am, someone's marital failure listed in clear Arial Bold on my screen. I know a little bit about this guy—he had essentially been her Mark Hacking without the murder—but this transparency into what was a complete waste of a life makes him pitiful.
I shake it off.
"Do you ever wonder what these exes of ours are up to?" she asks.
"You don't even wonder what they've done to fuck up their lives so badly?"
I smile, but she can't see it through the computer screen. "If I had wanted to see them destroy themselves, I would've stuck around."
She laughs and the sound gives me warm shivers. "I just always want to see, you know? I want to know what else they messed up after they messed me up."
"I guess so," I say. "I'm mostly glad that it's gone. You don't wonder what kind of medical waste dump your old tumor is in."
"Point," she says. "I'm gonna go to bed. You should, too."
"Sleep well. Look to the future."
"So bright I've gotta wear shades." She yawns into the phone. "Sweet dreams."
"Back atcha." Phone clicks off.
I don't think that anyone I've dated has a criminal record. I guess that one girl got caught with shrooms, but if memory serves, that was expunged, and I think that's the extent of it. But divorce records are much more fertile ground for the Antietam of my love life, and I can't help but wonder:
did that feathery old perv who was sleeping with her while she was with me ever get divorced?
The curiosity overpowers my better judgment, and I type in his name, each letter bringing a bitter, coppery taste to the back of my tongue. These were letters in a specific order that I never wanted to see again, and here I am, putting them in front of my own eyes. No use stopping now.
There are a few folks with his last name that have been divorced, but there it was, at the top of the list. I take a (dramatically) deep breath, feel the reminder of whiskey in the back of my throat, and click.
All it shows is the name, whether he initiated divorce filings or responded to them, and the date of filing.
So there he is:
His name—no "doctor" in front of it—his status as respondent to filings initiated by his wife, and:
my birthday. His divorce went through on my birthday.
And I'm not sure what I clicked that for, what I was hoping to find, what part of me just needed to know if this man, a guy whose reputation had been self-immolated by his wandering eye landing on a stupid young girl, had fallen upon his own overinflated sense of in-the-moment.
But it was worse than that. Not only did I know that he did follow through and divorce his wife, I knew when. And it was my birthday. I started drafting a letter to him a few minutes later. I deleted it before sending it.
The first line: "I am so, so, so sorry for everything that you lost."
The last line: "I hope you find what you're looking for."
The post-script: "Be better to your daughter than you were to your wife."