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There’s a whole helluva lot in a name

October 15, 2012

How we named this blog speaks a lot to why we get along as co-parents so much better than we do as spouses. As you can tell from her suggestions, Moxie prefers a very blunt, no-nonsense approach to things. This is why her site has been such a success, and why, when our 10-year-old asks what a clitoris is, she can describe it as impassively as if she were listing instructions for building an IKEA bookshelf.

My writing, conversely, is more narrative and painstakingly agonized over crafted. And yes, I like obscure cultural references. I like bands with names like BR 549 and Toad the Wet Sprocket. I like puns and turns of phrase and other yes-nonsense that she usually just shrugs off. This may shed light on why she remembers my suggestion as “Pooping in the Enameled Tub,” because if something I say doesn’t register immediately, she mentally files it under Crap.

My favorite name was actually “Dogs in the Bathtub,” which I thought of while we were estranged but still living together in our not-large Manhattan apartment. If you’ve ever washed a small, easily vexed dog, you know how they can tend to get agitated and leap out, but their claws’ complete lack of traction against the porcelain makes the whole effort futile. Imagine two in the same tub, threatened by each other and yapping at each other’s tails, running around in clumsy ovals and ultimately getting nowhere. That was us.

I like “When The Flames Go Up” very much (and not just because the band spends most of the video performing perilously close to the edge of a cliff). The song’s title and anthemic melody have always felt life-affirming. And as she said, I got it as soon as she suggested it.

That little spark of commonality is a nice allegory for the blog itself, a little stronghold in the ever-shrinking overlap of our personalities’ Venn diagram.

That’s the best chance we have to make this bathtub confinement as pleasant as possible, especially for the pups.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. October 15, 2012 4:39 pm

    I have no experience with either divorce or parenting, but as soon as you announced the blog I loved the name — both because I love the song and recognized it immediately, and also because I found it so apt for what you were living and writing through.

  2. October 15, 2012 4:52 pm

    and now you both are alive and kicking? sorry. couldn’t resist.

    • October 17, 2012 11:07 pm

      When it first came out in 1985, I swore it sounded like “I like fried chicken.” Which we both do.

  3. Bob permalink
    October 15, 2012 5:29 pm

    This might be too personal a question – and it goes to either or both LOD/Moxie – so I completely understand if neither wish to answer it; but it does (to me) fit in with the tenor and purpose of this blog:

    (while I am not divorced, I have been married 28 years and we did separate for 6 months a long time ago, so I have a little tiny bit of understanding of splitting a life together into two distinct parts.)

    Do you not have anything in common that would bring you two together as friends? Were you not friends before you were husband/wife? The way you write here, the impression I get is that if it weren’t for the kids you would have nothing whatsoever to do with each other. I get the acrimony of divorce – it takes time to heal those kinds of wounds. Was there not friendship before marriage? Was there not friendship in marriage?

    I have a friend – he and I were college classmates and we have been friends for 33 years – longer than I’ve known my wife. That said, if I were forced to choose between the two of them which was my best friend, it would be hands down my wife. There is sooooo much we have in common, she is always my first choice of someone to do stuff with. When we were separated one of the things I missed most was having my wife to spend time with.

    Again – I understand if this is not a question either care to answer, but I had to ask.

    • askmoxie permalink*
      October 15, 2012 5:37 pm

      I’ll give my answer, which is probably totally different from LOD’s answer. I think we both had a lot of issues when we met. And our problems fit together really well, but we didn’t. I think that we could have been friends–not super-close friends, but friends–had we not forced a relationship and marriage. But I think once we both started to get healthy emotionally it came out that we really have very little in common.

      • Bob permalink
        October 16, 2012 2:18 pm

        Thanks for your answer. In hindsight I thought my question might be considered rude, which I certainly did not intend.

    • October 15, 2012 5:54 pm

      This sounds like a good idea for a subsequent post, so thanks for that.

      Looking back, I’d say we were friends by circumstance, as most co-workers are, and all the 40-hours-per-week contact made us overestimate how friendly we were. I still consider us friends, but now that’s of far less importance than that we be allies, both in the boy-raising and the business we conduct with our writing. And allies don’t necessarily need to be friends; if Stalin and FDR could pull it off at Yalta, we can muddle through somehow.

      • Bob permalink
        October 16, 2012 2:24 pm

        Thanks for your reply. You have both made it more than clear here that the boys are your highest priority and it is equally obvious that it hasn’t been easy. I can – and do – appreciate that.

  4. analyticsman permalink
    October 15, 2012 11:31 pm


    Great job of painting a clear picture of why ‘Dogs In A Bathtub’ was a good description of where you guys were and, therefore, an appropriate blog name. I like the current name of your blog, but it is always interesting to learn about what might have been.

  5. Anna permalink
    October 16, 2012 2:13 pm

    Allies but not necessarily friends….Wonderful! As an attorney in a small town handling all sorts of issues — dog bites to DUIs to divorce — I’m always looking for ways to help my family law clients through their challenges, ESPECIALLY when they have kids. Thanks for this. I had never thought of the post-divorce relationship in exactly this way.

    I’m 100% certain this idea will help somebody else’s kid, someday soon, in a very tangible way.

    • October 16, 2012 2:39 pm

      Thanks for that comment, because it’s always valuable to hear impressions from people who traffic in human dramas regularly.

  6. Jennifer permalink
    October 17, 2012 5:09 pm

    Haha, I actually quite like Dogs in a Bathtub too, more than I like Pooping in a Bathtub. 🙂 That made me giggle.

  7. October 19, 2012 2:38 pm

    This is so fascinating to me, maybe this is what happened to my parents. Growing up my parents never did things together and didn’t have anything in common. My dad had many passions and my mom was one to get a hobby and then quit soon there after. There was no shared interests or hobbies and when they did do things together, it was always a compromise on my dad’s part.

  8. November 6, 2012 7:23 pm

    As a therapist that works with co-parents post divorce, I commend you two for “getting it” and making the sacrifice for your “pups”.

  9. Gallumphing permalink
    November 30, 2013 11:15 pm

    Typing on a silly Tablet touchpad keyboard. . . which is really slow ~ which tells you Just how grateful I am at this moment for your blog (that I would take the time to type this two-fingered tribute). I am the mother of a 14 month old baby and have the incredibly dubious honor of having become a coparent instead of just a parent. Staying sane in the midst of sleep-deprivation, living (oh god let it be temporary!) at my parents house, a new job, communicating with the other coparent. This is a haven for a seemingly large population under high stress. (Can I just scream for a minute here?) THANK YOU for humor and a breath in that isn’t forced. I feel (a little) less crazy.

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