“Statistics show that 100% of all divorces start with marriage” –Anonymous
On many occasions I’m asked how did I come to Florida and then invariably where is your mother. Strangely after almost 23 years I still get a shock from people when I answer with “Who the hell cares, in New York probably, hopefully she’ll stay there”.
My mother is / was (I don’t know her anymore so I can’t say for a fact) a low functioning alcoholic. I say low functioning because that’s the best way I can think of describing someone who is capable of normal function until that first drink of the day. After said drink…..Mrs. Hyde came out. And Mrs Hyde was low..
Case in point; the exodus from Belle Harbor to Boca Raton
On the evening of June 11th, 1990 my mother had her damn drink early. Patty (my mothers name and what I’ve always called her) was maybe 5 foot 1, maybe 90 pounds fully loaded. Itsy bitsy teeny woman. Always nice to the neighbors, always had a smile, food, and drinks for my friends. But, 5 O’clock would come around and it was just a matter of minutes before Hyde arrived.
This day when Hyde appeared at the kitchen table something had already infuriated her. I was never sure if Hyde would show up angry or sad though more often than not both arrived to haunt me. In this case on this day Hyde stated that as usual she was mad at my Dad for abandoning us, for having an affair, for leaving to move to Florida, and other assorted issues. Some real, most imagined. As is often the case in divorce there is one parent off their rocker. Sometimes its just a little jealousy, maybe a little payback for the other parent, the missing one. Other times its full on batshit psychopathy. My mother, the latter, and made worse by a family history of alcoholism and a loaded gun in the form of Judge Corazon Corado, Queens Supreme Court and other judges like her. See in the 80’s in New York if you were male and getting divorced the court treated you as hostile, more or less a criminal. Doubly so if there were children involved. In my case the courts remanded custody to Patty time and time again without knowing or knowing and not caring that Hyde lived with us too.
Anyway, Hyde this night was ready for action and started in with my apparent failure to take out the garbage. Ok, Hyde probably had point here. At 36 I’m still uncertain just exactly how that procedure works! At some point the issue escalated as it always did to a drunken stupor of hate and bile and before you know it I’m tossed out (third time that year) to fend for myself. June in New York isn’t so bad outside. But, in my case I had the option of going to a buddy’s house to deal with whats next. Fortunately for me this was an easy fix this week as I was flying to West Palm Beach that Friday to spend the weekend with my Dad in Boca Raton. So when Hyde tossed me on my ass I made a decision: “that’s the last fucking time she’s throwing me out! They have airplanes for me to fly in Florida, Gun Ranges to go to, the driving age is a year younger than it is in New York, oh and its Florida! Permanent Vacationville, home of the 6 ft rat in Orlando, Fuddruckers, Mini golf year round, fuck this shit! and fuck her!”. Grabbed my TWA tickets on the way out of my childhood home for the last time.
“Hi Dad, its Corey, Uhm, Patty threw me out again, but ah, don’t worry, I’ll just come see you Friday on the usual TWA Flight”
“Corey, that flight is on Friday, today is Monday, where are you going to stay for the next few days?”
“well, I guess I’m gonna stay at Paul’s house on 128th st and Cronstan.”
“What, uh, who, OK, I want to be clear on this: Patty threw you out, again, and you want to stay in NY for the next few days”
“Yes, I want to say goodbye to my friends”
“Yeah I can see that, OK Cor, I’ll see you on Friday then”
My father was no dummy and knew that when crazy stuff happened to me I always had a plan and wasn’t going to alter that plan no matter what for anyone, ever. So there was zero point in trying to reason with me.
In times of crisis what’s always gotten me through; I turn into the Terminator. No I don’t go around as a mindless killing machine, but to paraphrase: “I can’t be bargained with. I can’t be reasoned with. I don’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And I absolutely will not stop, ever, until you no longer bother me”.
So, the next day, June 12th 1990, found me at Junior High School 180 in Rockaway for what I thought was going to be a normal day of school. Why I thought I had to attend school that day is beyond me, but I went. After lunch the school’s guidance counselor, a big old matronly woman whose name will permanently escape me, came into my sixth period Spanish Class and asked the teacher if I was present.
Oh. Fucking. Shit! What has that woman fucking done to me this time! Did the crazy bitch call Child Welfare or worse?
Yes, I replied I am here, what can I do for you? Mr. Kleiman, Corey if I may, can I ask you to take a walk with me? (fuck, fuck fuckity fuck!) Uh Sure.
“Corey, is it true that your Mother threw you out of your home last night?” Uh, yep. “Now its my understanding that this is the third time this happened?”
Hold on a second here….. If Mrs Hyde called Child Welfare there is no way she was going to tell them she tossed me out three times! My Dad knew that number as did I.
“Uhm hmmm, I’m gonna take a guess and say that my Dad is here and in the Principals office, correct?”
“I can’t answer that” said Guidance, very, very carefully.
“Right, well then, we’re done talking, please take me to my Dad and the Principal”
Off to Richard J. Spata’s office, my Principal, my father’s Science teacher and my Mothers Gym teacher back in the 60’s at the same school. Yeah, small town..go figure.
I can’t say I remember much of the Principal. I don’t remember what he looked like, how he spoke, what he dressed like. But I do remember “Corey, I’ve taught both of your parents back when they went to school here and I have to say that I remember both your Mother and her sister, Diane, fondly”.
“Yep, that’s nice… where is my Dad?”
“How did you know your Dad is here?”
“Guidance counselor accidentally told me, and I’m not going to discuss anything more until he’s brought in the room. PERIOD!”
So, with a dirty, obstinate, clearly distressed kid in his office Mr Spata did the math quickly and determined to get me and my family problems out of his office as quickly as possible and brought my Dad into the office. Seems again that knowing his son the way he did, My Dad hopped the very first flight out of PBIA that morning heading to New York, in his case that was a an American jet heading to LaGuardia.
Lets take a quick look at the situation:
1. Minor child claims to be thrown out of residence by his mother, the primary custody holder
2. Minor child’s father, with visitation rights, is here to deal with whatever will be coming next
3. Both child and Father indicate a massive ongoing custody battle continues to rage on in Queens Supreme Court
4. Child indicates custody holder is a massively abusive drunk and has the bruises to prove it
Mr. Spata did the only thing a bureaucrat of his standing could do; He called the Cops. Enter two beat cops from the 100th Precinct to take me and my father to the station to await the arrival of my mother to “sort dis bad stuff out, you love ya Mudder dontcha kid?”
They drop me and my Dad off in separate marked units to the station and then go to Belle Harbor to pick up my mother who was at 2pm sober and pissed off. At 13 I was already 5 foot 6 or so and very skinny, so when the brought my Mom in and she began to point her finger at me saying “How dare I lie to my Father, Mr. Spata, the Cops etc about her throwing me out when all she did was ask me to clean my room” I towered over her and said in an even voice “We’re done here and I’m not going with her anywhere”. The cops, clearly exasperated with the worsening situation “Uh, Dad, uh, yous got somewhere youse can take the kid tonight thats uh, safe, and he can, I guess cool down?” My Dad said that of course he did, that no officer, it isn’t a bother at all, and he shouldn’t worry.
My Dad spirited me quickly from the Precinct, off to the psychologist that I’d been court ordered to see twice a week for the past 3 years where I recounted every detail of what had transpired the past two days in Technicolor. At the end of the session thinking that I would have to go back at some point to Patty’s house my Dad got on the Van Wyck Expressway, pulled the rental car into the Heartz lot, and walked me directly to the Eastern Airlines Terminal at LaGuardia to sit standyby on the next plane going to any South Florida airport. “Uh, Dad, the Cops said you had to take me someplace safe tonight and I think they meant here in New York.”
“Yeah, its too bad they didn’t specify that we were supposed to stay in New York, As I heard the order it was only someplace safe, oh well, guess he’ll watch his words more carefully next time” said my Dad.
Roughly four hours later I arrived at PBIA to start a new life in South Florida.