Thursday, December 6, 2012


From TING AND I:  A Memoir...

C and I had eight years of a very pleasant marriage. We got along very well. We were friends with a number of like-minded people, including several I knew from radio work. In the summer of 1980, we were taking flying lessons, which was very exhilarating. Indeed, C took some more lessons on her own, getting a bit better dressed for them than seemed necessary. She even bought new underwear. For flying?

In September of 1980, I got a call at work from a marriage counselor, with C there beside him, who told me that C wanted me to join her for counseling, because she was distraught over the recent break-up of her romance with her flying instructor. I told them she had a bigger problem than that: I was not likely to continue the marriage.

I called the flight school and left them a message, too.

The meetings we had with the marriage counselor did not reveal significant interpersonal problems, except a lackluster sex life. Besides having these discussions with him, we each took the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), which has hundreds of questions. Once those results came in, C was told to return twice a week for help. I was judged to need no such counseling. She took two weeks away on an Outward Bound excursion to “find herself.” When she returned, I told her it was over. She begged me not to break up.

C and her family thought everyone related to them in terms of their money: if you were nice to them, they thought it was because you wanted their money. If you didn’t like them, it was because you were envious. I was not going to get credit for forgiving her. I could never trust her again. I resented her ingratitude toward someone who had loved her deeply and unselfishly. She wept.

My family had gone from loving C to feeling estranged by her. My friends Phil and Ginny Nodhturft reminded me recently that they had heard my mother say that a person who, like C, decorated her home with white carpets did not seem to invite company. She continued by saying that a divorce was for the best, considering how C had turned out to be.

C and I separated the week after her return. She was very remorseful. She agreed I should stay at and keep the condo. I was terribly sad. Nineteen eighty-one was a long, long year. I had to re-evaluate the previous nine years of our relationship and concluded that much of it was in my imagination. C probably did love me at first, but her parents undercut this. They saw me as a Republican Woody Allen, a characterization that neither I nor any members of my family accepted. Yet it seemed possible that I might be able to marry Tina someday, I thought. Soon after, I wrote to Cornell to get Tina’s address and wrote her a note to tell her of the break-up. She wrote a sympathetic response. It would be another two years before I contacted her again.

Eventually, C and I “lawyered up” and spent well over a year in legal limbo, finally divorcing in 1982 on the same terms we had initially agreed to. My famous Boston lawyer had painted visions of a very lucrative settlement, but produced nothing. He had the gall to tell me that I would probably have wasted it, anyway, as most newly rich, newly divorced folk often do. Fortunately, I was not that interested in her family’s dough. No wonder divorce lawyers have a bad reputation. It’s dirty work, but someone has to do it, and get paid lavishly for it.

Around that time, C’s precious dog, George, developed a serious illness. She dropped him off at her parents’ house. Would she have stuck by an ailing spouse?

Two years after that, when I was at Bedford Mews, C called me to see if I wanted to “get together” to see her. She would be “passing through” nearby. I gave her a quick update and told her that Tina and I were a month away from being married. She had known of my love for Tina and wished us well. I wish her well, too.

I assume that C felt she had made a mistake in being unfaithful to me. I knew she had much insecurity from her parent’s lack of faith in her and from her own sense of inferiority–nothing she did or possessed met her hopes or expectations, the basis of her need for counseling. She had a physical deformity, scoliosis (a curvature of the spine), which may have made her feel unworthy, though it simply engendered added empathy in me, when we were still close. It was one of the reasons we chose not to have children, wisely.

What did I learn from this?

You rarely know people as well as you think you do.

Self-made men overestimate the quality of their construction.

Some rich people define themselves by their money.

Parents ought to be careful about how they treat their children’s beloveds.

Promises are only as good as the person who has made the promises.

Have a back-up plan in case things don’t work out as expected.

All’s well that ends well, as will be shown.

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