Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A More Instructive Sunday Section

Last Sunday I did my usual perusal of the New York Times' wedding pages. As I skipped from announcement to announcement (wondering how they could all be hedge-fund managers or hedge-fund lawyers), I had a thought. Wouldn't The Times do its readers a much better service by running stories not about how marriages begin (because, let's face it, how many variations can there be?) but about how they end? This might be a template:

Kathleen (previously Markowicz) Flood-Haddock, who will henceforth use only her maiden name, announces her divorce from Albert Markowicz, the man whom she claims has "basically ruined" her life for seven of the last eight years. The court hearing is scheduled for April 27 in Courtroom 2B of 11th District Family Court, where the divorcee plans to strew rose petals of gratitude before returning to her home in Slope Park for a wine-and-cheese fete with friends.

Ms. Flood-Haddock, 39, owner of a midtown catering service called Fork It Over!, says she had been considering a split since shortly after the couple's hot-air balloon wedding over an upstate New York amusement park in 1999. According to court records, her long working hours alienated Mr. Markowicz, who retaliated by conducting a series of affairs, but never with women who were "in the least attractive." Ms. Flood-Haddock claims his "callous disregard" of her "aesthetic standards" resulted in a crisis in her self-esteem, leading her to make various mistakes at her catering job. Though "only two" lawsuits ensued, both related to food poisoning, the damage to her reputation was the last straw for her, she said. "They were both settled out of court, and it's not like anybody died," she added.

She went on to claim that Mr. Markowicz' unwillingness to rinse his goatee trimmings from the bathroom sink was a contributing factor in her decision to end the marriage.

Mr. Markowicz, 41, denies Ms. Flood-Haddock's claims about the beard trimmings, but acknowledges that in more than one case he did leave sodden teabags on the kitchen counter. He regrets his part in all teabag-related incidents, he said, as well as other incidents involving splayed magazines, Clearasil-stained tissues left on the coffee table, and rare but upsetting episodes of uncontrollable flatulence.

For his part, Mr. Markowicz, who says his initial attraction to Ms. Flood-Haddock's iridescent pink-and-turquoise hairdo faded soon after their marriage, remains circumspect, unwilling to blame either party for the cooling of their passions. "I just want my Steely Dan albums back, that's all," he said. Following the courthouse ceremony, he moves into his new efficiency apartment, overlooking two dumpsters and the back of a foam-insulation company.

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