Lea Lane

Lea Lane
Florida, USA
August 26
author, Travel Tales I Couldn't Put in the Guidebooks, available at Amazon.com and on Kindle
“I’ve discovered the secret of life,” Kay Thompson, the eccentric entertainer and “Eloise” author, once said. “A lot of hard work, a lot of sense of humor, a lot of joy and a lot of tra-la-la!” And that's been my life: As a travel writer for over 30 years, I've been around the block (more like around the world), and I write true stories about interesting people and places. (Check out my travel site, Travels With Lea.) I've lived an unconventional life in conventional trappings. Been a corporate VP, worked with foster kids, acted in an Indie ("Nurse 1"), was on Jeopardy!. I've been managing editor of a travel publication, written for the Times, and authored books. OS is my home, but I also blog on The Huffington Post, and I've contributed (mostly anonymously) to everything from encyclopedias to guidebooks. Married young, divorced late; married late, widowed early, I dated lots in-between -- and survived a scary illness. After being happily, peacefully solo for many years, I'm now happily married again. I founded and still edit www.sololady.com, a lifestyle Website for single women. I'm truly grateful for each precious day, each well-earned wrinkle, my family, my cat. Truth, laughter, friendship, late love. And this blog -- on this wonderful site!

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Editor’s Pick
MARCH 5, 2010 1:55PM

Dumped by Answering Machine on Oscar Night, 1996

Rate: 49 Flag

  Frances McDormand





I cannot watch an Academy Awards ceremony without remembering the crazy way a boyfriend ended our relationship on Oscar night in 1996. It’s one thing to end a good relationship, and another to end it the way he did.

This was during my heavy dating period which started in 1995 and ended with my marriage to a wonderful man in 1998. I was in the fast-track NYC dating scene, holding my own after a long marriage and two immediate long relationships.

Let’s call him Mark. He was everything I wanted, then. Think Chris Noth. And the beginning, high point and low point of the relationship all fell on memorable days which I remember every time those days come around.

--- Our relationship was consummated on New Year’s Eve. I wrote about it here.

--- It climaxed so to speak in the limo from the airport in Lanai to the lodge there on Valentine’s Day, with a necklace placed around my neck. Mark was a golfer, and his dream was to play the best Hawaiian courses in the world, adjacent to some of the best resorts in the world. And he took me along for a couple of romantic weeks.

Lucky me. I was smitten. I wrote him a long, mushy Valentine poem. Mistake.

---The relationship ended during Oscar night. We were supposed to have dinner at my place and watch the show together. Instead, that afternoon I got a message on my answering machine (Remember machines. The ones that garbled messages.)

I thought the message said. “Sorry, I won’t be able to see you tonight. I do want to be with you. I know you’ll understand.”

Except I wasn’t sure that it was “do” want to be with you,  not “don’t.”

I played this message over and over. There was a pause and a garbled grunt that might have been "don’t." But I wasn’t sure. I rationalized it was a positive message. Why wouldn’t he want to be with me? We got along great in every way.

I brought in my girlfriend Jane, who lived in the cottage I rented out behind my house. She listened carefully to the tape and decided it was “do,” not “don’t,” and that he wanted to be with me but couldn’t that night, and he knew I’d be understanding. (She thought we were perfectly matched, so she probably wasn’t the best person to ask.)

I was distraught. Was it over or not? I had to call him up an find out. I finally did it during the Oscars, when Frances McDormand had just accepted her  best actress award in Fargo.

“I got your voice message. Did you say you don’t want to be with me or you do? I couldn't tell."

"I don’t. I’m sorry. I just don’t want to commit. We were getting too serious. And we’re too much alike."

"What’s wrong with being alike? We have a great rapport.”

I let out a cry. (That poem I wrote him must have scared him!) "But how could you dump me on an answering machine, just like that?

"I was afraid you’d cry, Lea.”

My friend was there to comfort me, and I did cry. The Oscar show went on and we watched The English Patient, a tragic love story, win as best picture. I later wrote Mark a (lost) poem about being dumped on voice mail. It wasn’t mushy.

The man who ended the relationship with me on Oscar night has been in a long-term relationship with the ex-wife of a famous liberal columnist for many years now. He still lives in his own apartment, last I heard. We have since made up and I have written about my trip to Hawaii with him in my book.

So when the best actress award comes up this Sunday—14 years later-- I will be thinking of the moment I found out I was dumped, as I do every year.

To paraphrase Sally Field winning her best actress award, I guess back then “he didn’t like me. He really didn’t like me.” And he had a gutless way of telling me. But I got over it, and have done much better since thank you very much. In fact, I'll be watching this weekend's Oscar ceremony with a man who really loves me.

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Sad, but true. Older and wiser.
It's great when we can look back and laugh at these things, isn't it?

I was dumped by email while caring for my dying mother. But honestly, after the first shock, I was OK with it, but that's because for me it was not a love thing.
So (even though that's not his name) you got your own Oscar this year, didn't you?

A well-deserved one at that. :-D
Lea, I can totally agree with your thoughts about the method of communication that was used to tell you it was over. As if that wasn't bad enough, to really not know at first whether it was "do" or "don't" added an entire layer of uncertainty until you called to clarify. It is certainly sad to contemplate the anniversary of this every year when the Oscars roll around.

Thank you for posting such a well written and interesting look into a way of ending a relationship that anyone would be advised not to use, unless they happen to be a sadist.
Sad story but good story and we know you've moved on magnificantly
Add another "way I got dumped story." This would be a fabulous subject for an open call.
Not a bad idea at all. Putting it on my list...
This is truly a classic . For better or for worse.
I was dumped most unceremoniously via my cell phone voice mail. What a coward that a-hole was. I just tell myself that for all of their wonderful qualities, confrontation of any kind is not the male's strongest suit. I'm sorry he ruined the Oscars for you, but trust me, you're not missin' a thing...
Rated for relating to your pain!
Silk, it seems absurd, looking back. Two women huddled over a machine, debating "do" or "don't." But it worked out fine for all, and I had a romantic trip.

ame, wow. Your story is far more dramatic and meaningful. Sorry. But better not to have stayed involved with such a man, right?

Bill, you are right. I was patient, in the opposite sense of English Patient. I won.

designanator, you don't have to be a sadist to be a chicken, a wimp, or a jerk. Many people break up via email, voicemail, and I imagine even by tweeting. But not somebody who really cares.

Thanks, trilogy. You're right.

Sheep, great idea.

Judy, great (and fast) response.

Algis, just want to say how much I love your photos. Wish we could have collaborated on a travel story.
I once got a wrong number's message on my answering machine. She'd caught her boyfriend cheating. She didn't dump him, but if I'd answered the phone I'd have told her too (except she wouldn't have poured her heart out.)

I always wondered what happened, since the two-timer didn't get his message and no doubt assumed she didn't know.
As we say in Georgia, "Bless his heart>" Men can be very, um, challenged when it comes to dealing with unpleasant exchanges." None of my exes ever had the cojones to tell me they'd had a change of heart. Instead, they picked fights until I finally pulled the plug on the relationship. That way, they weren't the bad guys.
denverdarling, I think we could have a facebook club on the rotten ways we've experience breaking up. I was shocked, more than anything.

Malusinka, maybe they're married. You never know. That one mistake may have changed their entire future.

LintheSoutheast, yes making the other break up with you is a ploy used by many of us.

ClarkK, thanks, you betcha.
That sucks.

Great writing, though. Love your posts, Lea.
Thanks, Gwen. Back atcha.
Mark obviously has a high handicap
He's gutless, he dumps you on the phone, and then expects you to be 'understanding'! Funny how 'I know you'll be understanding' is used to cover up so many discourtesies and hurtful things our loved ones do and then pretty much tell the person they hurt to suck it up.

But in spite of the pain, you went on to find someone much better!
Oh, ugh. Things were more genteel when one asked the sweetheart for the return of one's letters - code for, it's over. Of course, that was when people actually wrote letters.
Tom, as usual you are a wordsmith. He had a very big handicap.

Shiral, some of us seem to be stuck with the label "understanding," which enables bad behavior. I've often wondered why bitches so often get guys who treat them like princesses, and part of the reason is they wouldn't stand for less.

sixtycandles, what are letters? Do you mean the alphabet? :)
Lea, this is truly great comedy since it's well over. The Don't vs Do discussion reminds me of Woody Allen in an early film, decoding Gun not Gub. I mean that is just so sweet the two of you women hoping for the best. Sounds like to missed a bullet. Did he ever say more than what you wrote?
Oof, that would kill the Oscars for anyone:( rated.
wendy, I remember that scene in Woody's first film, Take the Money and Run. It was raw but hilarious. His earliest films were his funniest --Bananas, Sleeper, Love and Death, etc.

Caroline, it certainly took away my attention that year.
Wow, good one. What an ass. And definitely his loss. Even the infamous "Brad" at least had the courtesy to call me... but oy, an open call on being dumped, how many categories will "Brad" fit into? heh Great story as always, Lea, now I'll think of you when Best Actress is called. And smile at your good fortune (and his).
I enjoyed reading this Lea.
Hmm. Sally. What is Mark's "good fortune"? He "could have been a contender" with me (dialogue from *On the Waterfront*, Best Pix on of those years in the 1950s).

Thanks monkey. But talk about "foolish." His way to dump me was, and my hoping for a relationship was even moreso.
Oh no! I wasn't referring to Mark's good fortune, but to the very smart man who loves you now!
Awww. Sally. I couldn't figure that one out. :)
Ah, the bad breakup stories. Dumped on my 19th birthday because my popping my knuckles drove him crazy. (He'd never said a word before, so either he was too chicken until it boiled over, or he was lying.)

Dumped by letter received on the day of the Christmas dance, to which we had a date, because he wanted to date "someone closer to his own age and closer to him." Which, I found out a few months later, meant he got his "real" girlfriend (who I knew nothing about) pregnant. What would've happened if the mail had been late and I was sitting there, dressed up, ready to go to the dance?
That was so wrong. He wasn't worried about you crying, he was a scaredy cat.. I am so happy for you and the new love in your life!
You are such a glamourpuss! You are even enchanting as this bozo breaks up with you. The nerve! Who does he think he is? I have decided that I will live my life vicariously through you. (Seriously, because my last break up happened over a corn dog at a carnival, and he went onto a long term affair with the wife of the man who owns the funeral home. Not the same thing. At all.)
And you're still watching the Oscars!?

I quit watching them, but for very different reasons, as you can read by clicking on my name.

I've been both dumper and dumpee (mostly dumpee). Either side, it's always awful.

Good post!
Gutless indeed! It sounds like the man you have now is a much better match!
Oh I like happy endings! Especially when they start out distraught. Of course I want to know who the ex-wife is.....
Aunt Mabel, schmucky muck indeed. How very Canadian of you.

Oh dogmom, such sad dump stories.

LL2, a scaredy cat is a nice way to put it. I' say creep.

Belwether, you are hilarious, and I especiallu love your last post.

Thomas, I'd rather be the dumper. At least I would know what's coming.
How rude!!!!...
But things like this form the brilliant writer who we get to share!!!
Karin, I do, I do.

Deborah, the ex of his girlfriend is a famous columnist. If I gave his name I'd be identifying Mark. I read the columnist and you probably do, too.

Gary that is such a philosophical comment.

Ame, sounds like you got your revenge.
"My friend was there to comfort me, and I did cry," writes lea Lane. "The Oscar show went on and we watched The English Patient, a tragic love story, win as best picture."

This is slightly off-topic, but I remember a Seinfeld episode where Elaine saw and detested The English Patient, but when asked by her supervisor at work, J. Peterman, if she'd seen it, she lies and says she hasn't, and winds up seeing it (again!) with him.

Because she's seen it before, she finds the second viewing incredibly dull--waiting for the characters to die off..."Die, already!" she exclaims, as the film plods along.

There was an episode from the remake of the Twilight Zone series from the '80s, in which someone goes back in time and changes hist0ry by preventing JFK's assassination.

I've often wondered if going back in time and experiencing events which have already transpired, (like the assassination of JFK), would be similar to what Elaine went through in the movie theater with The English Patient..."Die, already!"
Lesson learned: Never write a guy a poem.
That's a coward's way of dumping. He should be strapped in a chair with his eyes hold open, like Malcolm McDowell in Clockwork Orange, and be forced to watch 24 hours of chick flicks. Hey, they should me up to be The Marriage Ref.
yow. that was cold (of him).

and muttering the key words, what is that about? i have two friends who have figured out how to make yes and no sound the same. one of them has this response that sounds like "yope."

he uses it for both yes and no: yup and nope, supposedly, but pronounced identically. it drives his boyfriend nuts. of course.

man, forcing you to call. ouch.
Oh, you've definitely inspired future blogs with this one... we've all got to tell our stories because you KNOW they're all out there just waiting, Lea. The Oscar Dump (snort)!
I don't know why it is that we have to run the gauntlet of gutless wonders and the socially inept, but it certainly does give us grounds to appreciate the real keepers who come our way.

I don't remember ever being dumped, though I can imagine someone out there thought that they had dumped me. I guess I just wasn't attached enough to feel dumped. But, I did marry someone who deserted me and asked to come back. I told him no because I didn't believe that I could trust him.

You sure made me wonder about that word. I am glad you are enjoying the Oscars with someone who loves you. God knows you deserve it Lea.
Vasu, I was an English Patient fan. Mostly because of the scenery.

Kathy, in this case, true. Paper trail.

Cranky, you are one creative torturer.

Dave, Mr. Discovery, cold indeed.

Gabby, you haven't really lived till you've been creatively dumped. Bring 'em on.

Eric, a letter seems so -- um --old fashioned and formal. But still gutless.

Susanne, the word is pretty ugly and connotes pretty raw things. I do love reading about your undumped life on Toad Lake with Dan, as an antidote to things like this.
Happily, I cannot relate. I've never ben dumped. Go figture.
Judy, yes that is one case where we don't relate. Glad to hear that. xoxo

Bonnie, I thought I wrote pretty clearly that I liked him alot-- was smitten. I just didn't like the way he dumped me.
"Dumped" is such an appropriate word for the feeling you get. I don't think the dumper sees it so much a "dump" as the dumpee but that's just their own rationalization of their behavior.
Thinking of Frances MacDormand winning the Oscar, however, is a great memory!!
I love how you tied the end to Sally Field. Sad story but great (as usual) writing!
Sharon, Fargo and McDormand's acting in that movie are among my all-time faves.

Roger, "You like it. You really, really like it!"
Gowno, I just love you Lea... Never have watched any pop culture awards shows, having this connection I just might...RRR
Ouchie. That hurts. But you are the epitome of soul and resilience, Lea, and I love reading your many tales!
Now, that is low. Breaking up on an answering machine. That is low, extremely low, and rotten. Glad you have recovered, Lea.
Patrick, love you back and please don't feel you have to watch award shows on my behalf.

Deb, I've dealt with worse. Thanks.

Spud, lower than a swayback dachsund.

"mattva", this was designed to focus on one aspect of life. If you ever read any of my other posts you'll see I have my full share of sorrows. You sound like someone really pissed off for some other reason. Hmmm... I'm thinking of an obvious possibility, a woman who recently discovered that I write here. I sent you a private message and deleted your comment. I know who you are.
Older and wiser, yes, but living (and loving) well is the best revenge (although you don't seem revenge-full, you know what I mean).

Oh, yeah, thank goodness for texting!
A sad and painful lesson that convinces me we should all get our hearing checked. Or maybe our listening. My guess is that this guy will remain single. Forever. Consider yourself the lucky one. ;)
Maria, texting would be worse. At least I heard a voice.

cartouche, love your post today. And yes, it worked out fine for me.
Give an Oscar to the guy for best performance by an actor portraying a grown-up man.
There's gotta be a movie in there somewhere!
You two are thinking movies, oh yes.
good story. thank you. R.
One of the best practical jokes I ever played was changing a friend's answering machine message to something like, "I'm too drunk to come to the phone right now, but if you leave a message, I'll call you back as soon as I sober up!" He didn't notice it for months. Good times. With personalized voicemail, that wouldn't be an option today...
Wonderful post, glad you found a man you deserve. Most of my break-ups have been on the level, but there are two that stand out:

1. On my 25th birthday my 40 year-old boyfriend announced that he was dating a 19 year-old.

2. Fast-forward 14 years later. The "man" I was with changed his Facebook relationship status. Sad but true.

Again, great post. Rated.
This is exactly what I needed, thank you!I love fashion ,so i red news about fashion,an old saying that woman like all beautiful things .such asreplica handbags ,yes every woman want to have an beautiful handbag .what do you think ?