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Well, that's good.
D: Once we started talking to each other and hanging out, and I told you my story, you were like, "Well, that's just not going to fly."
Um... what were you thinking?
M: Not thinking.
D: Not thinking. I'm a guy. Not thinking.
Like, when was that going to be something that you addressed?
D: I dunno — it was just all going to work out! Well, here's how it worked out: one day I came back to my fiance's apartment, and the picture of me that she had on the bureau was on the floor, smashed into a thousand pieces. It turned out Debbie had found out about your mom. [laughs] So that pretty much ended it.
M: She found out because she called you and you were at my place helping me hang curtains.
How long had you and Debbie been together and engaged?
D: Less than a year.
So you met at school?
D: We met maybe halfway through my sophomore year. I had met her parents, and the whole thing was, um... it was all... it was wrong. Her parents didn't like me — I was not their picture of who they wanted their daughter to marry. For one thing, I didn't have a job, and I was a musician. But more importantly, they were Jewish, I wasn't. And I actually had said, "Okay, I will convert to Judaism." Debbie and I went to this rabbi at BU and we sat there and told him the whole story. This was actually phenomenal — we got all done, and the rabbi just looked at me and he said, "You're just doing this for her parents, aren't you?" I was like, "Wow." You've just got to go with the truth, so I said yes. And he said, "I don't think it's the right thing to do." It was so impressive, because he was exactly right, and I knew he was right, and she pretty much knew he was right, but didn't want to admit it.
He probably saw that kind of thing a lot.
D: Yeah, absolutely. So, that's how the whole thing started to unravel. By the time I met your mother, things had been slowly deteriorating in my relationship with Debbie.
Did you feel guilty?
D: Well, I think that Debbie was also not sure at that point that I was the right guy for her, so even though she exploded — justifiably, I might add — when she found out that I was interested in someone else, I think she also knew that we weren't really right for each other. How's that for rationalization?
You never actually lived together, so you didn't have to separate your stuff and move out and find a new place.
D: We each had our own apartments still. So it never got to that stage. But, we were engaged, technically, and I'm sure her parents were the happiest people in the world when they found out this wasn't going to work out. What's ironic is that Debbie ended up being a born-again Christian.
Did you give her a ring?
D: Yes, my high-school graduation ring, and she still has it.
Well, I wear the ring that she gave you!
D: Oh, the green one? Yeah. Good.
I wore it the other day. "With love, to my love. Debbie."
M: That's creepy. You should have that erased.
D: Melt that baby down!
So, after she smashed the picture, what was the timeline with you and Mom?
M: After that we started going out on real dates. And I'll tell you, he always made me laugh. I laughed nonstop.
D: We eventually moved in together. We lived together for a year, and that's when I graduated from the Conservatory, and then this opening came up for the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. There was a French horn opening and a violin opening, so we were like, "Okay, we'll both take the audition, and if we both get it, we'll move to Birmingham, and if only one of us gets it, we won't." So we gathered up our pennies, flew down there, and took the audition, and we both got it.
M: That's how we ended up going to Birmingham.
D: So, we're in the Alabama Symphony Orchestra telling everyone that we are married, because it was the Bible Belt in the mid-'70s, and you couldn't live together if you're not married. The funny part was going to get our driver's licenses in Alabama. They're like, "Okay, your name?" And she told them she wanted to use her professional name, her maiden name. They said, "Oh, but you're married?" And she said yeah. They said, "Well, you have to use your married name." And we weren't even married, but she said, "Okay!" And they go boom, and stick my last name on her legal ID. Didn't ask for a marriage certificate, nothing!
M: They didn't ask me for anything.
Isn't that a felony?
D: We just did what the Alabama Registry of Motor Vehicles told us to do!