My heart went out to Russell Crowe, when the bad-boy superstar was arrested and charged with second-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon after attacking an employee at the Mercer Hotel in New York. As Crowe later explained to David Letterman, he had repeatedly tried and failed to call his wife in Australia. I'm not condoning the use of a phone as a weapon, of course, but long-distance relationships can be tough enough to make even the calmest person edgy, much less a hard-rocking gladiator with a temper.
When I heard about Crowe's rage, I'd just spent three months apart from my husband, Andy, in Tours, France, attending a language institute and living with an unconventional host couple in their fifties. (By "unconventional," I mean that they had matching red leather pants. He gardened in his Speedo. Their home had leopard- and zebra-print decor and dozens of stuffed — by a taxidermist — animals. I've seen her breasts. Have I said enough?)
My first reaction on the day I arrived, exactly six months after Andy and I were married, was not aggression but something akin to hysteria. Exhausted by 15 hours of travel, I actually cried in my coq au vin when my hosts, who had already revealed their penchant for public displays of affection, asked me how my husband felt about my leaving him for so long. Later that night, despair escalated into a tantrum to rival Crowe's when I discovered I had only one minute's worth of prepaid cell-phone time left.
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