Social Media & FBAMM

Divorce in the Age of Social Media


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(Excerpt From Facebook Ate My Marriage.  Republished with permission from Hell Bent Press and the Author)


Chapter 22:  Dr. Kormos and a Greek Island


It had never occurred to me, until Bryce mentioned it, to relate Dr. Kormos’ visit to the event of DeeAnn’s departure. Dr. Kormos, an oral surgeon we met when we first moved to Florida, is a short stocky man, balding, with a long, thick, curly auburn beard and a sort of bacchanalian personality – which is to say hard drinking, bawdy stories, stuffed grape leaves and baklava. His wife, Larissa, who is 15 years younger than him, shows no physical signs that she is the mother of four fully grown children and is an absolute encyclopedia of knowledge of history, art and science. She is not, however, a doctor. A point DeeAnn was at some pains to drive home to Larissa when we were guests at the Kormos home several years ago.

The evening did not go well. Petrelas (Dr. Kormos insists on being addressed by his first name when he is hosting a party) was welcoming to the entire Lynn clan; all 7 of us were present. Food and wine flowed in abundance. Then Cristos, the oldest of the Kormos family, arrived with his wife, Daphne, and his two sons, Adrian and Pietre. The boys were within a year on either side of Kiefer’s age and fell into playing with our youngest three. Kaylee and Bryce, then in their late teens and barely tolerant of their parents, took the opportunity to experience discrete amounts of wine and later ouzo.

As the children became relaxed and more people joined the party, some Greek friends and family, some neighbors and several dentists arrived, and DeeAnn became very distressed. If a conversation was in Greek, she would sidle away from the group. If a group wasn’t talking dentistry, she would slip away to another group. At one point, a group of wives was gathered and DeeAnn gravitated towards the estrogen to find that it was Larissa, her sisters, three neighbors’ wives, and two dentists’ wives.

DeeAnn (for I cannot bear to call her “my wife” in view of what she did) proceeded to monopolize the conversation with the explanation that she was “A Doctor” and to cut across questions of child rearing, home life and politics with such observations as “As a doctor, I would say…” or “Being a doctor, it has been my experience…”

We left the party late. The children were abuzz, the oldest two with wine and ouzo, the youngest three with a general appreciation of the joyous and exciting culture of the Kormos family. DeeAnn was, for her part, drunk and deeply aggrieved. Larissa apparently had not been entirely deferential to my wife’s “Doctor” status.

For the next several weeks I would have to listen, blow by blow, to a rehash of DeeAnn’s analysis of the shortcomings of the women at the party.

“Dentists’ wives! You know, servile, child obsessed, everything was family this, church that,” DeeAnn exhorted.

This was before my wife’s conversion from nominal Anglican to lapsed Catholic.

“Larissa was the worst of them. She would cut me off and change topics. She would talk about history, art exhibitions in Tampa and Orlando, the orchestra! As if a bunch of dentists’ wives would care,” DeeAnn observed on another occasion.

I, following my own advice on the topics of wives and their wars, left her to her general rants which persisted for some time. Had I a suicidal inclination, as many dentists do, I would have pointed out that Larissa was a full professor of art history and taught part time at two universities in Sarasota. Instead, I nodded my head in complete agreement with my wife as to the vile nature of such things, in what I felt to be a placatory manner. This was insufficient.

“And what was that shit with you being ‘Cusper Lynn’?” She snapped at me.

“That is my name,” I said reflexively, as I stood in our bedroom.

“No! You are Dr. Cusper Lynn, D.D.S.! You aren’t just some schmuck, ‘Cusper Lynn.’” DeeAnn was now in full rant, and I was to enjoy what she really wanted to say to the women she was talking to at Dr. Kormos’ party.

“Half the people there were dentists,” I pointed out.

“All the more reason!” DeeAnn barked, as she stood half naked in our bathroom, her face beet red and her breasts swaying below her navel as she quivered with rage.

I must confess I was slightly distracted from her rage as I still, for reasons I can no longer explain, found her to be highly attractive despite the toll the years had taken on her.

“What difference did it make?” I asked, now with an entreating tone in my voice, hoping to draw this rant of hers to a close.

“It is a matter of professionalism!” She waved a hairbrush at me in a menacing manner to make the point.

In retrospect, I believe that conversation could have gone into a PFA on my behalf. Were I to use the fiction and logic my wife employed in her filing, I would have written it as follows:

“On many occasions, my wife did assault me, verbally abuse me and threaten me with physical violence when I did not comply with her wishes or failed to agree with her in every circumstance. She did make threatening postures and place me in immediate fear of physical violence against myself.”

I, of course, wrote no such thing, as this was DeeAnn being DeeAnn, and one simply rode out the storm.

There would be no more visits to the Kormos’ parties, much to the chagrin of Bryce and Kaylee, and with voluble complaint from Heather, Kiefer and Julie.

Julie and Heather, who had declared Adrian and Pietre to be “friends,” were the most persistent in their entireties on this subject. “We want to go to Dr. Kormos’! We want to play with Adrian and Pietre!”

Kiefer, having learned early that estrogen ruled in theLynnhome, offered his agreement, but in a less strident tone, “They were fun.”

DeeAnn, not to be usurped by our offsprings’ wishes but understanding the consequences of voicing her opinions openly, opted to resort to her most frequently employed approach: She elected to lie to the children. “Well, those are Dr. Kormos’ grandchildren and they wouldn’t be there. That was just a special visit. So you wouldn’t have anyone to play with, and it would be very boring. But aren’t you lucky you got to play with them when you were there?”

As lies go, it was passable. But children are not stupid – as opposed to say fully grown adult males who have been married for 24 years – and they had learned from experience. Also, I believe DeeAnn’s comment on the subject of the children’s good fortune that Adrian and Pietre happened to be there at all struck a note that even Dr. Suess’s Grinch would have known to avoid when speaking with Cindy Lou Who.

“How do you know?” was Julie’s immediate response.

It was a question only Julie, the youngest and bearing the closest resemblance to my wife at that age, could get away with asking.

“Because I do!” DeeAnn snapped, in a tone that was meant to communicate a finality that would brook no argument.

Julie gave her an appraising look and crossed her arms in a posture I had seen her mother use many times when Bryce and Kaylee were little. She stared at her mother unsmiling and said one word: “How?”

It is here that the question of genetics and family dynamics must once again be revisited. Bryce, Kaylee, Kiefer and Heather all bear very strong Lynn traits in appearance, mannerisms and demeanor. Heather, for example is a direct-line inheritor of the “Grand Matriarch” gene of Grandma Lynn’s side of the family and will someday organize and terrorize the family in a way only my maternal grandmother – Grandma MacDhubhshith – could. Kaylee has Grandma Lynn’s more patient, but no-nonsense nature and tolerates her mother only as is necessary to keep open warfare from occurring. Bryce, as eldest, possesses an indifference to threats and has at times been forced into the unenviable position of “confidant” to his mother during her various wars and intrigues. Her leap into insanity has allowed him to divest himself of that role, and while we have become closer, his mischievousLynnhumor has become increasingly biting. Kiefer, besieged by the cumulative household estrogen, and cut off by the gulf of age and paternal behavior by his eldest siblings, has opted for keeping his head down and pursuing a campaign of nonviolent resistance to his mother’s will.

I give you this information, my dear readers, so that you might understand that, alone among the Lynn children, Julie is the only one from whom DeeAnn faces an opposition to which she is ill equipped to respond. This is in part because Julie will use soothing words to silence her mother’s fears, employ little rages to demand what she wants and scream bloody murder if she is disagreed with in any way. This cannot be explained by birth order, as DeeAnn is the oldest in her family, so the attributes are more clearly Cadwallader genetics than simple nurture can adequately explain.

“Because I do,” DeeAnn answered, narrowing her eyes and squaring off with the immobile Julie in what I knew to be a dangerous gambit.

While a gulf of nearly four decades separates these two, looking back I now can see, in terms of emotional maturity Julie held the upper hand. So she repeated her single word challenge: “How?”

DeeAnn, of course, broke. “Cusper, your daughter is talking back to me!”

It was as clear a concession as one could want that Julie had broken her mother on that point.

“Julie, please go and play in the other room,” I asked in a very pleasant tone.

Julie smiled a wicked little grin at her mother, uncrossed her arms and said, “Yes, Daddy.”

Kiefer, a quick study on the environmental politics of family life, departed with Julie, who was walking with a decidedly triumphant stride off to the other room. Only Heather remained.

“Then let’s invite Adrian and Pietre to come to our house,” Heather announced, resorting to her mother’s other known weakness: logic.

“We don’t know where they live,” DeeAnn answered, without much venom, as the Julie confrontation had clearly taken it out of her and one of her “headaches” was about to make an appearance.

“They live in Lakewood Ranch, and Daddy can get their phone number from Dr. Kormos,” she pronounced with a finality more clearly delivered than her mother’s had been to Julie.

DeeAnn tried to assume a threatening posture with Heather, from which she found the child did not retreat.

“Cusper,” DeeAnn groaned and sank onto a chair.

“Daddy will take care of it,” I said to Heather and ushered her out of the room.

The playdates with Cristos’ children cost me dearly, as a renewal of rants from DeeAnn and a general livid revisiting of her grievances with the Kormos family as a whole grew with each gathering, despite the fact that these happened without her presence or participation. But what made matters worse was when we were invited to attend a professional function on Siesta Key. A dental supply company (which shall remain nameless) rented a frozen drinks bar inSiestaKeyVillageto host a reception forSarasotadentists, oral surgeons and their staff, so they could do some deductible marketing and drinking. We, of course, attended. Dr. Kormos and his wife, Larissa, were there, as were his staff. This was not good. I felt it was best to get greeting them out of the way before DeeAnn had a drink, because after a drink there was no telling what she might say or do.

“Dr. Kormos, Larissa!” I called out and steered DeeAnn directly to them.

“Cusper! DeeAnn! Join us!” he answered in response.

DeeAnn veered off to the bar and I continued on. There are some catastrophes that no amount of hope or planning for can avert. “It is good to see both of you,” I said, genuinely meaning it.

“Cristos tells me that the kids are getting together almost every week,” Dr. Kormos smiled, shaking my hand.

“Yes, well the kids just think the world of Adrian and Pietre,” I answered, happy to be away from DeeAnn and suppressing a general foreboding.

Larissa leaned in and gave me a hug and the traditional kiss on either cheek, which I returned. “Is DeeAnn well? She seemed upset,” Larissa observed with genuine concern.

“I believe she went to find the facilities,” I lied.

“Did you have a chance to listen to ‘Aida’?” Dr. Kormos asked.

It is here that I should confess to the readers that I had begun something of a double life. As DeeAnn was ‘At War’ with Dr. Kormos’ wife, my continued association with him would be deemed as a general betrayal. That neither Larissa nor her husband had done a single thing to offend my wife wasn’t the point. She had a grudge, and betrayal was not acceptable. Even the playdate with Cristos’ sons were, to her mind, an insult. So the fact that I was lunching with Dr. Kormos twice a week, and offering excuses as to our continued non-attendance at his parties, would be a treasonable offense that would require that I be subjected to the Queen’s justice: disembowelment, drawing and quartering, hanging and finally burning.

Were she to know that he was educating me in opera and guiding me as to the area arts programs, these forms of justice would seem child’s play to the reckoning I would face. So my interest in achieving a brief and vaguely civil interaction between the DeeAnn and the Kormos’ was not based solely on avoiding an unseemly confrontation at a professional function.

“Actually I have, I am listening to it again this week. I am very much taken with the tenor’s aria ‘Celeste Aida,’” I answered, pleased to have some conversation on culture with a much respected colleague and friend.

I omitted the fact that I had to do so in the car, as my wife had no tolerance for classical music, much less opera. She was always the first to point out that she studied violin as a child, until her thoughtless father sold it, ending all further involvement on her part in musical training. It has never been clear to me if she offers that story to imply that she was a virtuoso denied her chance, or if it meant that her absence from the arts by default closed all interest in classical music to her. It is one of those puzzles to which I suppose I shall never have an answer.

The puzzle as to her whereabouts was soon resolved, as she returned from the bar holding two drinks. The one which was nearly empty she pressed on me. “Dr. Kormos, Larissa,” DeeAnn said, in a curt tone.

“DeeAnn,” Dr. Kormos greeted her genially. “We were just discussing opera. Your husband is a quick study.”

“Dr. Lynn,” DeeAnn said, in a studied insult that she had been waiting to deploy; then it occurred to her what had been said, “A what?”

Dr. Kormos, for his part, was in a stunned silence as he had not expected this from DeeAnn.

There was nothing for it (fire, lynching, quartering); I would run them all to cut this off.

“Dr. Kormos has been teaching me about opera,” I blurted out.

While this stunned DeeAnn, Dr. Kormos was still taking in the full import of what had been said, “Why Dr.Lynn? We are all doctors. My wife is a doctor! Dr. Larissa Kormos, Ph.D., professor of Art History.”

“Not a real…” DeeAnn began.

“Absolutely true, and Dr. Kormos, you with your four-year residency as an oral surgeon, you are most certainly a doctor of the highest order,” I put in to cut off what DeeAnn was about to blurt out, “where we are but humble D.D.S. and pleased to have an esteemed and talented doctor of your caliber in our community.”

DeeAnn considered what I had just said, shot me a foul look and turned to leave.

“Dr. Kormos, Larissa, it appears we will be making an early night of it,” I said, taking my leave of them as gracefully as circumstances would allow.

I will not relive the ride home for you or the ensuing battles that would rage for the next few weeks. But DeeAnn’s battle cry was “SHE’S NOT A REAL DOCTOR!” to which I could only respond, “Neither are you.”

Dr. Kormos was, as his kind and generous nature inclines him to be, conciliatory as to the incident. For once, another party made the excuses for DeeAnn, rather than myself. “I understand your wife’s situation. It is not easy being a woman professional, much as it was once not easy to be a dentist among other physicians. We stride and we become strident.”

I would have told him that DeeAnn had always been strident without having been a dentist. But as his answer buried the matter immediately and allowed me to remain friends with the Kormos family, without DeeAnn’s involvement, I embraced his plausible excuse.

“Yes, well that has always been a bit of a problem, being a woman dentist and married to a dentist,” I agreed, further convoluting the justification of the unjustifiable behavior.

So matters remained. Through great effort on my part, and only minor subterfuges, I managed to avoid further interactions between DeeAnn and the Kormos family. The playdates ended, after Cristos took a job inLondon. Life, as it regarded DeeAnn’s “Kormos War,” settled into its normal, almost peaceable aspect.

The event to which Bryce alluded to came two weeks before we were to go toWisconsinto visit my parents, Grandma and Grandpa Lynn. Dr. Kormos’ youngest daughter had graduated university and was getting married inGreece. Dr. Kormos, who had noted the general decline in the Lynn family fortunes, had promised to bring back something from Greece to improve our luck.

The name of the island on which his daughter was married, I could not tell you, any more than I could hope to pronounce the name of the university from which Larissa graduated. But that the wedding was beautiful, joyous and marked by all the positive portents a father could hope for was clearly the case. Dr. Kormos, after an 11-hour flight, went straight from the airport to our house, leaving Larissa (whom I suspect had not forgiven nor forgotten DeeAnn’s insult) in the car, and knocked at our door to present us with the promised present that would bestow good fortune on our lives. His paternal pride and his recent submersion in his native culture had made him, if anything, even more joyous and full of life than the man whom I so admired for these qualities.

“Drs. Lynn!” he burst out joyously, “such a great and wonderful event in our lives are the blessings of our children!”

While the “doctors” reference momentarily mollified DeeAnn, who harbors grudges with a professional passion, it was the grand hugs and the effusive joy of the man that overcame DeeAnn’s  remaining resistance. She smiled, despite herself, at the infectious joy of this proud father. “In time, my good friends, your house will be blessed with so many great things! Weddings, grandchildren, great-grandchildren – and you will look back and remember the struggles as little more than passing moments.”

How I wish that were true.

Then, from within his jacket, he produced a small silken pouch that he placed in DeeAnn’s hand. “Put one of these in each of your cars and one near the door,” he instructed, “and I am certain your circumstances will turn.”

With a final hug and endearing terms of friendship, he departed.

DeeAnn opened the pouch and withdrew three beautiful silver amulets. Each one had a blue glass eye. Two of them had a Byzantine cross dangling from them, and the third one had a small knob that contained an ear of corn.

“What the hell are these?” she asked of the gifts.

“I believe that they are ‘Evil Eyes.’ They are supposed to ward off evil and cast out dark forces and malevolent spirits.”

DeeAnn returned them to the bag, which she set aside and would not touch again. It was only a matter of weeks before she left the house forever.

After considering Bryce’s observation, I have decided to post one over the front door, lest she attempt to return to the house.

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