SELECTED STORIES FROM “HOW I LEFT MY HUSBAND FOR A WOMAN AND OTHER STUFF”
“F” IS FOR FAGHETTABOUDIT
My dad used the F-word a lot. So much that when I was really young I thought he invented the word. As we got older we thought it was because he was in the army and probably picked it up on the battlefield. He seemed to pull out some other army slang here and there. Like when getting ready to go out for dinner he’d say, “I’ve got to do the five S’s: Shit-shave-shower-shampoo and shine.” The army really seemed like a rough and tumble place with that kind of banter thrown about. As luck would have it, my daddio was discharged from the service after less than one year for having flat feet.
I’m sensing you may want to know more about the glorious Markoe flat feet, handed down from generation to generation. The Markoe feet are quite memorable if you’ve ever had a glimpse. So much so that you will never get that hideous image removed from your brain. They’re big with long toes and each have a bunion so big it requires its own ski hat in the winter. Why couldn’t I have inherited my mother’s petite size eights with toes that slightly curled under? Did I get my mother’s shapely figure? Nope. I got my dad’s huge, flat ugly feet and stick shaped body with no waist and no butt. Hello, gorgeous!
Back to the F-word story. Saying “fuck” was tolerated in our family because my dad didn’t want to have to stop saying it. But when my brother took to swearing a tad bit too much, mom intervened. At dinner time.
“Bruce, can you please pass the fucking butter?”
Cut to Bruce and I simultaneously choking on our Birdseye frozen vegetable medley.
“And the fucking bread too please.”
Both parents kept on with their non-chalant dinner conversation with the word “fuck” sprinkled in like it was salt.
“Sy, would you like more fucking brisket?”
“Yes. This brisket is fucking delicious tonight.”
Seizing the opportunity, Bruce jumped right in there.
“Mom, what’s for fucking dessert?”
“I can make a nice bowl of fucking fruit.”
Of course it was fucking fruit. We never had real dessert like other families. Anyways, Bruce and I had no idea what they were up to so we just ran with it.
“Debbie, pass me the fucking salt.”
“Oh yeah. Will you fucking please pass me the fucking salt.”
At the end of dinner our folks proudly announced they were doing an experiment to show us just how silly it sounded to use the F word all the time. I doubt this evening made my brother reduce his over usage of the word, but it was one of the most memorable dinner table conversations our family ever had.
MY DEVIANT YEAR
Eighth grade. Age thirteen. Puberty. Everything was changing, And not in a good way. Gangly. Awkward. Braces. Romantic attractions paired with untimely acne. Socialization meets peer pressure. School work gets harder. Life becomes stressful. Apparently hormones change our thinking and emotional patterns at that age. Simply meaning our emotions are flying off the handle without a fully developed frontal lobe -- the part of the brain responsible for logic. Basically a day in the eighth grade was like a day walking a tightrope across the Grand Canyon without a net. To make matters worse, we were convinced that any embarrassing episode at school was the end of life as we knew it. When in reality the event was forgotten pretty quickly by everyone else. If I had only known there was an actual scientific reason for all of this -- perhaps I coulda rolled with it. But that’s not what happened to me in the eighth grade.I didn’t get stronger with each humiliation. I wanted to curl up like a little roly-poly bug and die.
Embarrassing 8th grade episodes...where do I begin? I played the flute in the band. Let me restate. I was the third worst flute player in the entire band. I’m not being hypercritical. I literally was “third to last chair” flute. For those of you who have never experienced the joy of being in a band, here’s how the pecking order works: In order to move up in the ranks to the first chair position, you have a one on one competition against a bandmate who is challenging you to take over your chair position or vice versa. You’re each given the same piece of sheet music that you both sight read for the first time and play it in front of the entire band. The band teacher then gets all judgy and picks a winner. The winner then struts proudly up a chair while the loser sits the eff back down. This version of The Hunger Games “mocking-student” guarantees follow up self-esteem therapy for the average musician (yours truly). No one dies from these chair challenges. Except from humiliation.
What held me back from ever moving past the third chair flute was that I seemed to have forgotten to pay attention the day in class we were taught how to read music. Sure, I learned the basics of what each note was. But I missed the part about what a half note or quarter note actually meant. Or how to count time. Or what those stupid little dots meant when they were sitting on top of the notes. How did I manage to be in band from 4th grade through senior year in high school, you ask? I faked it. When we would be given a new song to learn I would hold my flute up and just listen to the band play it through from beginning to end. I picked up the melody and then played along with everyone else the next time. Pretty painless since we played a lot of songs by Chicago and those ahole trumpet players blasted us flutes to oblivion. I remained third to last flute because I could never sight read and do a challenge.
My most embarrassing event involves a super sweet and cute black kid named Daryl Smith. He was the first chair trumpet and I had a crush on him. I thought the crush was mutual because every time I looked over at him during band practice he was smiling back. I was so into him that I doodled D.M. + D.S. everywhere. Our smiling back and forth relationship was going strong for a solid month. I couldn’t have been more thrilled. Until the one horrific day that I saw Daryl Smith walking down the hall with his arm around the very popular, very blonde Cindy April. Did I mention she was also the head cheerleader and first chair flute? Double ouchie. How could he like her over brace face third chair flute, Debbie Markoe? The realization hit me like a ton of tubas. All those cute Daryl smiles were aimed at Cindy, not me. She was sitting in the front row of the flute section. And Ms. Markoe loser-ville was sitting three rows directly behind her thinking his dimples were aimed at me. I have never felt more unattractive than I did on that day in eighth grade. And thanks to Cindy April my opinion of cheerleaders went from disdain to despise.
ATTENTION KELLY “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ CLARKSON: this didn’t make me stronger. It propelled me into a phase of deviant behavior. I started hanging out with a new set of friends. They were the horse riding girls who hung out at the stables after school, made out with the older wranglers, smoked Marboros and made a habit out of boozing and pulling a broadie on the school lawn with their jeeps.
For cheap thrills we shoplifted. I actually shoplifted for them. We would go off campus (verboten), leap over the creek and head to the mini mart. I would put on Debbie Singer’s big puffy down jacket that everyone had in 1973 and shove as many bottles of booze that I could into my jacket. I never got caught so my badass cred was noteworthy. Eff Daryl Smith and Cindy April. I didn’t need him or his dimples. I was “cool” now because I was smoking in the girls room and pulling fire alarms. Not because there was an actual fire. I just liked to take dares. Until that one time I not so brilliantly threw a lit cigarette into the bathroom garbage can that was overflowing with paper towels. POOF! Flames galorigans. Someone else pulled the fire alarm because I ran from that bathroom as fast as possible. I would like to caveat this irresponsible fire alarm pulling behavior by letting you know that the fire department was right down the street and never showed up unless they actually saw smoke.
THE TIME MY FAMILY ROCKED THE KASBAH
The last family trip we all took together was to the most exotic of locations; Morocco. When the folks noticed how close and easy it was to hop a ferry from Spain to Tangiers they thought, let’s go to Morocco. Why the heck not?
Here are some reasons why not.
The food. Harira, Kefta, Makouda, Zaalouk and B’stilla.
This “very special” pigeon pie represents the pinnacle of exquisite Fassi cuisine. It may have pie in the name but mixed in with the pastry blend is actual pigeon meat. Hard pass.
Needless to say, for two weeks Bruce and I survived on couscous and “make sure that’s beef” kebab.
Being Jewish in an Arab country can make for paranoia, not para-joy-ah. After a short time in touristy Tangiers, we headed down to the heart of Morocco. Marrakech. Every man looked like they were right out of central casting for “the bad Muslim guy” in a film. And the women were completely veiled and wearing dark sunglasses so you couldn’t see if they were smiling at you or plotting to kidnap your teenagers.
Que sera sera. Whatever will be, will be.
We were exploring the medina which is in the old part of the city. It’s a walled labyrinth with streets so narrow there’s not enough space for cars to pass. Merchants are selling everything from hand crafted brass lamps, to persian rugs, to butchered animal heads for your dinner. There are palaces and mosques. Business men in suits and snake charmers with snakes. Thanks in part to Hitchcock, it dawned on my dad that we were the only (Jewish) Americans in sight surrounded by Arabs and we could mysteriously disappear and no one would notice.
Najib was a handsome young twenty-something who offered to take us on a tour of the medina. “You want a guide?” When my mom said she had read in her “Frommer’s Does Morocco” travel book that we should get a guide and not try to navigate the medina on our own, we quickly latched on. Suddenly we were swarmed by kids of all ages “Guide?” “Guide?” “Guide?” Nope. Najib would be our guide for the next few days.
Having Najib with us changed everything. We felt safe and now experiencing Morocco was fun. Mom and dad had a fairly hefty shopping list and he was just the guy to take us to the best shops. Starting with his relative’s Moroccan rug shop. He told us about Souk etiquette like not taking pictures of people without asking first and how we must drink the green tea offered up at every store to be polite. The one thing he forgot to mention was that you never ask the price unless you are intending to buy the object.
I was in the market for a small-sized, handmade leather Hassock aka pouf aka ottoman aka foot rest. I’m pointing to various ones I want to look at that are perched high up on shelves. The owner pulls them each down with a long metal rod. Plop plop plop as they hit the floor. I’m not really vibing with any of them. The owner was quite keen on making a sale and more than happy to show me every dang Hassock in stock. “This one? Plop. “This one?” Plop. “This one?” Plop. I asked how much they were and he gave me a price that perhaps was over my budget. I’m not really sure but I think I just felt like I shouldn’t buy one at the first place I looked so I said, no thank you and headed out the store. No bueno.
As we left, the shopkeeper ran after us and started screaming at the top of his lungs “The girl with the dirty mouth! The girl with the dirty mouth!” and was pointing at me!
Najib said for us to not look back and keep moving and that he would explain later.
I learned two things: Arabs will do anything to make the sale. And “dirty mouth” was referring to my braces.
Another day in exotic paradise where my parent’s could have lost their daughter forever was at our luxury hotel, lying by the swimming pool. A well heeled local man struck up a conversation with my folks and offered to take their daughter on a private tour of the city. Thankfully they didn’t fall for it. Que sera sera, mister.
Morocco is where I officially earned the nickname, “The iron stomach.” On every trip, someone would get the runs (except moi). And now we are deep in the most exotic location we have ever been to, where cleanliness well... to increase the level of culture shock to a #10, you won’t find toilet paper in Moroccan toilets. Or a toilet. Instead, you will enter the squat hole on the floor and you will see a bucket of murky water. You are supposed to use it to clean yourself and to flush the hole. And then only use your left hand for cleaning your butt because you eat everything with your hands in Morocco. The locals only eat with their right hand since the left hand is their poopy paw. So taking all that into account, it’s a miracle we didn’t all come down with Dysentery. Just my dad. He got so sick with a high fever that the hotel called in a doctor who gave me a prescription to fill immediately. Why me? Because Bruce and mom were also feeling nauseous and couldn’t rise to the occasion. So this brave fourteen year old walked out of the confines of the fancy hotel, managed to find the pharmacy on her own without getting kidnapped along the way, got the prescription to kill the parasites filled, made her way back to the room unscathed and saved her father’s life.
MOROCCO TRIP BOOK HIGHLIGHTS
Mom doesn’t feel well.
Mom doesn’t feel too good. She’s got the chills and then sometimes she gets real hot. Stomach and headache...SAYLAVEE! (that’s life!)
Bruce and mom didn’t feel well. We hung around the pool. Then we went to the square for about 3 min. because Bruce was sick and thought he was gonna throw up so we went back to the hotel.
Today was really fun. Mom, Dad and Bruce are sick. Mom has a headache and chills Dad had 104 temp. Nausea. Bruce has a soar (sp) throat. All I did was run around as a nurse - do this, do that. Get me some water, buy me a magazine, plump my pillows, call for room service. THERE (sp) DRIVING ME NUTS!
We had a hell of a time finding a hotel. We looked at a four star and it was a D-U-M-P! No doubt about that! So we stayed at a 5 star. We ate at La Mamma Pizza & steak. Oh, was that pizza good! I liked it better than Italy (but not as good as Round Table.)
But wait -- there’s more Morocco worth mentioning.
I had a pretty big crush on Najib. He was tall, dark and swarthy. One day he and I were wandering around upstairs at a shop where the folks were downstairs having the saleskeep unroll persian rug after persian rug. Next thing ya know teen Debbie is making out with our “guide” Najib.
Was this a common thing tour guides did with American girls? “The kiss with Najib” would go down in history with my friends back home as the best travel adventure yet.
I will end my Moroccan stories with the day we were packing to go back to the good ‘ol U.S.A. Insert teenage happiness here.
Bruce comes up to me and says he has something he wasn’t sure how to pack...but that I had to promise not to tell mom and dad before he showed me. Oh heck yea I promised. He then opened his hand to reveal a piece of something wrapped in tin foil. When he peeled the foil off I saw what looked like a piece of freeze dried poop. “No, it’s hash you idiot. Najib sold it to me.” Wow, that Najib was really a full service tour guide.
“Where should I hide it?” “In my pants? In my shirt? In the suitcase?” I have to say I was somewhat honored he actually asked my opinion. And in defense of his smuggling naivete, the film “Midnight Express” hadn’t come out yet. So he had no idea that if he got caught smuggling hash that he could’ve ended up spending the rest of his life in a prison cell below sea level. And maybe even sharing said prison cell with his one handed sister.
GEORGE CLOONEY DOESN’T LIKE BABY TALK
The 1991television sitcom “Baby Talk” that I was writing for was a spin off of the hit John Travolta film, “Look Who’s Talking.” The comedy came from the point of view of the newborn boy and is narrated through voice-over. The TV spin-off was developed by Ed. Weinberger, known for writing The Mary Tyler Moore show, and creating and writing Taxi and The Cosby Show. With his track record this sitcom was destined to be a hit. Or was it? Connie Selleca was cast as the show’s mom and was replaced by Julia Duffy mid-season. George Clooney was cast as the love interest. He too was replaced by Scott Baio. George who? Replaced? What-what?
“Ed period Weinberger” as we called him had the reputation for hating actors and I was about to find out why. We had all heard the story that George C. Scott had him barred from coming to the set of his sitcom, “Mr. President.”
Before George Clooney hit it big on the small screen with “ER” he had small roles on the sitcom, “The Facts of Life” and made an appearance on one “Roseanne” episode. Then he was cast on “Baby Talk.” The big problem was that George couldn’t memorize lines to save his life.
“Ed period Weinberger ’’ came down to the set at the end of each day for a run-through. But every time George flubbed his lines or tried to improvise, Ed stopped down.
George had little to go on but his good looks and charming smile at this point in his career. Ed had zero patience for good looks and a charming smile. Period.
The day of infamy went a little something like this:
INT. TELEVISION SOUND STAGE - DAY
The entire cast and crew stand frozen as they watch Executive Producer Ed. Weinberger rip George Clooney a new a-hole.
Who do you think you are? Besides Rosemary Clooney’s nephew. You made a couple of appearances on “The Facts of Life” and “Roseanne.” Don’t be so damn lazy. Do the work! Memorize your fucking lines.”
George fires right back. Literally. He throws his script at Ed’s head.
A hush falls over the set. You could hear a pin drop.
EXT. SOUNDSTAGE - CONTINUOUS
We HEAR a lone coyote howl. A mighty wind comes out of nowhere and blows through the parking lot.
We SEE a discarded fast food bag twist in the wind.
Today would be the last time George Clooney was ever to be seen on the set of “Baby Talk.”
And all the women were sad.
2018 (twenty-seven years later)
George Clooney accepts the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award.
In his career he has been nominated for Academy Awards in six different categories and has won two Academy Awards.
His net worth is $500 million.
WHEN FAMOUS PEOPLE LEAVE A MARK. ON YOUR SOUL.
Because I’ve worked in television production and marketing for over one hundred and thirty million years, I’ve had the quasi-pleasure of working with some celebs.
CELEB: Christopher Reeves
STATUS: Super heart-breaker-man
After two years in college, my brother dropped out of San Francisco State to get actual hands-on experience in the film biz, and went to the Sherwood Oaks experimental film college in Los Angeles. Naturally I assumed Sherwood Oaks was located in the Sherwood Forest so I had a hard time picturing him going to class in green tights.
Some of the famous speakers that taught there were Clint Eastwood, George Lucas, Spielberg, DeNiro, Harrison Ford, and Scorsese. The day he told me that Christopher Reeves was coming to speak after the screening of Superman. I shat my pants. I was madly in love with him and now I actually had the chance to meet him and get him to fall super madly in love with me back.
The day of the event was circled on my wall calendar, my day runner, my monthly desk pad calendar, my day at a glance desk calendar and my forehead. Yes, the circle was done with a red felt pen and shaped like a big red heart.
When the big day arrived I got there early so I could brush my hair a million times for ultimate glossiness. Bruce showed me to the back door where Mr. Reeves would be arriving. “Just only ask him for his autograph. Don’t say anything stupid.”
Was he thinking I was going to engage Superman in a sparkling conversation about the hazards of kryptonite?
Bruce left me alone with my anxiety. I waited and waited and waited. And then the moment I had been waiting for happened. A tall, strapping dark haired man was walking towards me with a purpose. The purpose was to get inside to the screening where he was running late. When I barely got out the words, “May I please have your autograph?” He callously brushed me aside and entered the door, never to be seen again.
In a way that shows an insensitive and cruel disregard for others; unfeelingly.
“Actor Christopher Reeves used Deborah Markoe callously and remorselessly for his own ends.”
Was Christopher Reeves the impetus that turned me into a lesbian? Discuss amongst yourselves.
HOW I LEFT MY HUSBAND FOR A WOMAN
I know you’ve been waiting for this story for far too long.
Thank you for your patience.
Three years after we were married we moved into our dream house, got a golden retriever puppy and named him Stanley, and had a baby and named him Stuart. Shortly thereafter it started to hit me. What’s wrong with this picture? I had “everything” and yet something was missing. I couldn’t figure out what it was. I loved my husband but wondered if I would be happy being married to him for 50 years. When the answer was, “hmmmmmm” I became concerned.
David and I never fought. We were compatible but we weren’t growing together. And after three years the passion was gone. But maybe passion is only meant to be fleeting.
The bigger question is can a couple get the passion back after having a baby? What if we were never meant to be more than just friends? But now that we had made a life together there was no turning back. Whatever discontentment I had was shoved under the nearest pile of laundry.
For those of you who have never given birth, a fun fact is that after childbirth doctors recommend women abstain from sex for six weeks. Exhausted and overwhelmed, most women are thrilled to have this in writing from a doctor. And I doubt that I was the only new mom who wondered if, like renewing my driver’s license, I could mail in for an extension. Men on the other hand are counting the days and minutes till the intercourse moratorium is lifted. And then when it is, batten down the hatches, ladies. They want it all the time because they’re not getting the attention they used to get pre-baby. Then when you throw in mommy fatigue, sex ranks on the to do list somewhere between cleaning under the fridge and digging ditches in Siberia. In the winter.
Here’s what I believe was the inciting incident. I was trying to cook dinner, keep the crawling baby from eating the dog’s food, and my hubby came up to kiss my neck. Not only don’t I appreciate it, I push him away. Rut-roh. The bottom line was that I wasn’t mentally or physically equipped to give, give, give to everyone twenty-four-seven. Something was breaking down. And it was our sexual relationship.
After a few discussions on the infrequency of our sex life, I areed to do IT once a week. Whether I wanted to or not. I made a commitment to our marriage and it was time to suck it up.
Git your mind outta da gutter!
Our weekly sex agreement worked for one of us. Plain and simple, my libido needed a tune up. So in order to get my spark plugs firing again I headed straight for the Sears automotive center. When that didn’t pan out, I stopped off at “The Pleasure Chest’’ on the way home.
TO BE CONTINUED….