Our Day in Court

While browsing through the bowels of my computer in a fit of insomnia this morning, I came across a story that I wrote in 2010. This story was written just after I moved to Bangor, and on the verge of a new chapter in my life. You see, I had moved to Bangor because I was in the throes of divorce, and wanted to live and work away from the scene of this life-changing event. However, our divorce, like most things in our lives, was not what I’d call typical. Ironically, we both ended up living and working in Bangor, and now, five years later, we actually live less than 1000 feet from each other. Nice to have a neighbor I can borrow a cup of sugar from without having to explain myself.

Actually, to tab an old adage-“All’s well that ends well” sort of fits, except it hasnt ended. We still share time together, enjoy our family and spoil our grandchildren together…essentially, for all intents and purposes, most folks would think we are still married..except she has her place, and I have mine. We may of discovered the secret to a long loving relationship. Or, possibly, we have discovered that no one else will put up with either one of us.

Birds of a feather, so to speak.

In any case, we do seem to share the same tongue-in-cheek wry sense of humor, and the following story is one that we both giggled over after I wrote it. It is a cute story of a usually far from funny event in peoples lives.

Read on if you dare.

                                         Our Day In Court

The title is a bit of a misnomer since we didn’t really go into the courtroom, rather we were in line at the clerk of courts service window, inside the courthouse. I think we both realized for us to play our usual shtick, we should exercise it during this visit, and not when we were actually in the courtroom…in front of the judge…

That…likely, would not be good.

So, you’re wondering what in hell I’m talking about …right?

Heh….well, since I have you “hooked”…sitting on the edge of your seat with anticipation…


Yes, the parting of ways, the “rebirth”, the chance to start over and get it right, out with the old-in with the new,…or my favorite, “emotional oil change”. We seem to have at least a thousand ways to describe divorce, without actually using the word “divorce”. Seems that word just puts a negative connotation on what should be a joyful event…right?

Anyway, I’m not going into all the reasons as to why Bonnie and I are at this juncture, but I will tell the story of our latest escapade while going through the process of getting …ahem….divorced.

So, after struggling to find a way for us to avoid attorney fees, serving fees, and any other fee that could be avoided, we came to realize that both of us needed to be at the courthouse at the same time when the appropriate paperwork was submitted to the clerk of courts. We, at first, attempted to do this at the district court in Belfast as Bonnie was divorcing me…that is to say, she was to be the plaintiff, and I the defendant. She resides in Searsport now, and I in Bangor. The problem became “when”….since we both work in Bangor, it was a problem to find a time when we could both be in Belfast during business hours.

So, we decided to do this in Bangor…which suited me fine as now I became the plaintiff, and she the defendant.

Ha!….I win….I divorced you.

Just kidding…..

I became the Plaintiff, and she the Defendant because I am the legal resident of Bangor.

So,  we then haggled over who should pay for the filing fee and the lunch together prior to entering the courthouse to file said paperwork…

We reached a compromise. She never stood a chance.

It was decided that I would pay for the filing fee and for the lunch.

I am a tough negotiator.

So anyway we met for lunch on a Saturday at Bell th’ Cat in Belfast,  filled out the paperwork, and agreed to meet again the following Wednesday in Bangor to have lunch and go to the courthouse and submit the paperwork with the court. I made copies in triplicate of the completed paperwork, leaving only the places where our signatures were required in front of a notary or the clerk of courts unsigned, which we decided would be signed, in front of said clerk, on that following Wednesday in Bangor. We were ready. I paid for our lunch, walked her to her car,  I opened her door and with an innocent smile said “See you next Tuesday.”

Heh…sometimes I just cant control myself.

Bonnie rolled her eyes and reminded me Wednesday…not Tuesday.


Wednesday brought with it a beautiful day…it was in the 80’s with a soft breeze licking at the back of my neck as we enjoyed a pizza at the waterfront park in Bangor prior to going to the courthouse. The pizza, 1/2 bacon and mushroom for me, 1/2 bacon and pepperoni for her, was purchased at Tri City Pizza on Broadway….best pizza in Bangor folks…hands down. We chatted about this and that during our lunch as we enjoyed the view of the river. We reflected on our granddaughter’s second birthday which had occurred that past weekend, and the party thrown in her honor at a the Weathervane in Belfast, in which both of us were in attendance for. We both commented on the fact that we were submitting our divorce paperwork to the court on the eve of the date in which we met 21 years prior. Somehow, we figured, this was appropriate. I commented further, “Perhaps if we get lucky, the divorce will become final on your birthday.”

A parting gift, so to speak.

I later checked the calender….her birthday falls on a Sunday this year. Oh well.

So, we finished our pizza, wiped our mouths, I tossed the box and napkins in the trash, and we climbed into our respective cars for the short drive to the courthouse. I happened to find a parking spot directly in front of the courthouse, while Bonnie parked up the street a ways…..I waited for her to walk back, and as she approached, she commented, “You could of let me have that parking spot so I didn’t have to walk so far.” I stepped back and appraised her , and remarked, “Well, I think a little walking is good for you.” She hip-checked me, “You saying I’m getting fat?” I reached down and patted her rear and said “No darlin’, you look ravishing as always.” she smiled and sashayed in front of me as we walked into the courthouse.

My goodness.

We go through the security check-point, reclaim our stuff, and both of us decide to visit the little boys/girls room before proceeding to the clerks counter. As we walk through the building following the sign that tells us where the clerk of courts counter is, I notice a young couple, sitting on a bench in front of the counter, who are clearly not having fun. They are giving each other the evil eye and it seemed that they could barely tolerate being that close to one another…..


Perceptive-me was able to connect the dots rather quickly and I realized they were there for the same reason we were. I noticed no one in line at the counter, I glanced at them, caught the young lady’s eye, glanced at the counter, and then back at her. She understood and said. “We are not ready yet, you two can go first.” I nodded my thanks and we stepped up to the counter. Behind the counter was a middle aged lady who offered us a tight smile and a “Can I help you?”

I considered asking, “Is this where we can get a marriage license?”…y’know, just to lighten the mood a bit.

Bonnie, who knows me and my whacky ways all to well, seemed to sense this and hurriedly says, “We are here to submit our divorce papers.”, followed by a warning glare thrown in my direction.

I flashed on a line from the movie “Kelley’s Heroes” in which Donald Sutherland playing a pothead tank driver remarks, “Negative vibes man….you’re always bringing me down with the negative vibes.”

Clearly, this place needed a bit of levity.

So, I smiled my most winning smile and said, “Yes we would like to apply for the express model.”

Amazingly, the clerk somehow found the strength to resist my charm and stonily pointed out, “Sir, there are no “express models”, you will have wait the 60 days like everyone else.”

Bonnie smirked, clearly enjoying me being put in my place, while I explained that I understood the waiting period, but that we were filing for divorce that was to be uncontested, no need for mediation or other encumbrances…that we just wanted to get this done as quickly, AND as inexpensively as possible.

This, she seemed to understand and starting rifling through our paperwork at a breakneck speed. She then set aside a large part of the paperwork packet, and said “You need to sign, here, here and here…dont forget to date it.”

I did, and said “Isnt a notary needed for some of these signatures? I was told the Judge would not accept the affidavit unless it was witnessed by a notary.”

Once again, my new friend, the clerk of courts, gave me a cool stony stare. “Sir, I have witnessed your signature, and that will be sufficient for the Judge.”

Ok…I get it…not your first clambake….

Bonnie, while trying her best to suppress a giggle, or perhaps it was gas, points out. “Now you need to pay the lady.”

I couldn’t resist…..I stare at the clerk, then turn to Bonnie, “What??…I aint paying!”


So, ok…THAT brought a smile to the clerks face, and I handed over my debit card.

While the clerk, rather gleefully, I might add, runs my debit card for the payment, Bonnie asks “So, I didnt notice any form to change my name, how do I go about that?”

The clerk, with what I saw as a warm sisterly smile, tells Bonnie “You know you dont have to show up at court for this divorce as you are the defendant, he does…..” pointing an icy finger at me “but if you want to have your name changed, you will have to appear and the Judge can grant that for you. Also, if you both are there and you agree to sign the waiver, you can have the divorce finalized right then, rather than waiting the usual 30 day period.”

Bonnie smiles and says “Cool…can I change my name to anything I want?”

Seizing my opening, before the clerk can respond, I wiggle my eyebrows, smile innocently, and ask “How about me? can I change her name to anything I want?

This illicits a stony stare from the clerk, an elbow to my ribs from Bonnie, and a giggle from the gal sitting on the bench behind us.

“Well…I figured since I’m paying for this, I earned the right to have some input on this matter.”

I think I detected a slight smile from Bonnie as she muttered something about “Some things will never change.”

Whatever that means.

So, the clerk hands me back my debit card and my receipt, tells us we will be getting our court date in the mail, gives me one more stony stare, and Bonnie one more sympathetic smile, as we turn away….I take this opportunity to grab Bonnie in a hug and tell her “Congratulations!”

The clerk is shaking her head as the gal from the couple on the bench behinds us turns to her newly dethroned husband and says, “I want a divorce like them, they are having fun.”

So we walk out of the courthouse, yukking it up a bit, and I once again (it’s just habit, I swear) reach down and pat her on the rear…”Hey!, you no longer have the right to pat that butt.” I point out I never had the right, just always took the liberty….she smiles and sashays a bit more. As we part in front of the courthouse, we hug and give each other a chaste kiss…and I think we both decided that as much fun as we’ve had over the years that there was no reason to treat this any differently.

I have to wonder what adventure will happen when we get into the courtroom…stay tuned.

Mitch Littlefield

About Mitch Littlefield

I was born into a large family in the mid 1950s, in Belfast, Maine. My family owned and operated three working farms during my childhood, and the entire family worked these farms. It is these formative years, this family, those farms, and that way of life that is the background for these stories.