‘Ex’ is a term now used to describe more than just a former spouse. (Pixabay stock photo)

Rickter Scale: The ex marks the start

The Rickter Scale is a regular column

Rick Stiebel/Columnist

There was a time before keyboards and handheld devices replaced paper and pens when an X served as a legal signature on a contract or marked the spot on the map where the treasure was buried.

About the only time you’ll see that 24th letter of the alphabet standing alone these days, however, is in reference to the rating for an adult movie, or lined up three across the label on a bottle of poison in a cartoon.

Ex, on the other hand, has become the go-to manner for how we label people from previous parts of our life, as in ex-boss for a former employer or ex-colleague for someone we used to work with.

It is also how most people refer to their past-tense spouses, which brings us to the point of this column, a salute to exes everywhere and in particular, my ex-wife.

Although our time together began in the deepest depths of love, our breakup was brought on by my inability to muster the maturity, honesty and integrity that form the cornerstones of a good marriage.

The split was the darkest period of my life, a period forever scarred by self-inflicted wounds that remain painful to recall to this day.

Nevertheless, my ex became the inspiration for the first thing I cobbled together in 25 years, other than the occasional Hallmark-like hello in a birthday card or letters to an ex-girlfriend in Philadelphia.

It came about, much like this column, from images I couldn’t shake from my brain during a night where sleep escaped my grasp.

Whether it was fate or something I ate, what I wrote in the wee hours of that particular morning marked the kick out of bed that pushed me on a path to a somewhat successful career as a journeyman journalist.

READ MORE: Rickter Scale

The poem in question took less than 20 minutes to write, a similar timeframe for the notes I scribbled down at 2 a.m. this Monday morning to deliver this first column of 2020. It goes as follows:


In my dreams I am a famous surgeon,

A masked face inducing you to sleep deeply

While I calmly remove your fear and your doubts

Like some routine tumour.

After the operation I awaken,

Just another mad doctor trapped in the gloom of his laboratory,

Frantically, desperately searching for a cure to the disease

Your leaving has spread through my heart.

So thank you, dearest ex, for the inspiration born on that fateful, fitful night of troubled sleep.

For that, the memories forged in happier times and the gift from the gods that is our son, I remain eternally indebted and grateful.

Whether you, dear reader, look forward to the weekly ramblings, rants and ruminations stitched into the Rickter Scale or silently pray for the publisher to pull the plug, at least we can all agree on one thing.

For better or for worse, you can blame it all on the ex.

Rick Stiebel is a semi-retired local journalist.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Occupancy rates remain above capacity in Greater Victoria hospitals

Region’s hospitals have more patients than acute care beds

Saanich mayor signs up for mason bee rental service

Fred Haynes rents mason bee colony from Oyster River beekeeper for his Prospect Lake home

Music coffee house returns to Metchosin with new name

Java Jive Coffee House takes place on Jan. 25 from 7 to 9 p.m.

VIDEO: Rare ‘ice circle’ spotted on Kamloops river

An ice circle or ice pan, has formed in the chilly waters just east of the Yellowhead Bridge

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Uber, Lyft approved for ride-hailing in Lower Mainland

Kater Technologies Inc.’s application was rejected

Investigators in wildfire-torn Australia head to site of B.C. airtanker crash

The B.C. government sends condolences to Port Alberni-owned Coulson Aviation

Here’s what Canada is doing to stop the coronavirus from getting in

Health officials are monitoring multiple possible cases in Canada

B.C. still struggling to control non-resident medical care fraud

Unpaid bills, out-of-province claimants a costly legacy of MSP

VIDEO: Person in wheelchair narrowly avoids collision with car in Kelowna

There were no injuries in the scary looking near-accident last week in Rutland

Former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse in B.C. granted day parole

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s

Most Read