I don't know why the memory of this guy has swum to the surface of my consciousness. I think I talked to him for something like five minutes, although he might have been in the waiting room for an hour.
Anyway, I was working in a government office, behind a counter, trying to sort something out for a woman with three or four children. She was a veiled woman, from somewhere in the Middle East. The father of her children was dead, and she had a new husband. There were documents to read and questions to ask. But the person I was supposed to be talking to was her, not her new husband, who nevertheless wanted to be the focus of my attention.
I won't even pretend to remember how this conversation started or what he said exactly, but at one point it was along the lines of, "Don't you think I did a wonderful thing by marrying a widow with four children? These are not my children, and yet I married this woman. Am I not a generous man? I, who married a widow with four children?"
He wasn't joking. He honestly thought that he was the Duke of Earl and the Hero of the Hour because he had married this woman, this woman with four of another man's children. And he was happy to brag about it while beside him the widow stood there looking at me, outwardly as meek as a mouse. He seemed to think I would applaud or coo and smile and agree.
Maybe where they came from it is mind-blowingly generous to marry a widow with kids. In Canada, nobody thinks much about it. Men often die young, so hey presto, widows. Of course in Canada widowhood is not the one-way ticket to starving to death it might have been for the woman in front of my counter. But I wasn't thinking of that. I was wondering what it was like for this woman to be married to a man that thought he was a superhero for having taken her--and her fatherless kids--on. Every time she did something wrong, like burn the bread or not iron the shirt he particularly wanted that morning, would he look at her reproachfully, saying, "I married a widow! Is this my reward?"?
Anyway, off they eventually went, she in her Middle Eastern clothes, and he, though from the same country she came from, in his hip Western clothes. I doubt I ever saw them again.
I said it when I was Single-and-Divorced, and I say it now: there are worse things than being Single. Being Single--in the free world--is infinitely better than being yoked for life to a jerk.