The day I announced my engagement to a Serbian, my mother started quoting lines from Not Without My Daughter. In case you don’t watch Lifetime-that would be the flick with Sally Fields about a woman who marries a Middle Eastern guy and then can’t leave his country. Well, can’t leave it without her daughter.
Insert my mother’s irrational fear.
Don’t ask me how she made the connection. I distinctly remember her referring to the ‘tribal’ nature of Serbs, despite the fact that mine was about as Parisian as they come.
Regardless, during the course of my six-month engagement (no-we will not be diving into further details on that subject), she took to randomly calling me with questions about our future.
I should mention here that when it comes to pronunciation, my mom is handicapped. So the day she called me to ask how to pronounce my would-be last name, I knew we were going to have problems. It had taken her three months to stop calling him Lukas (his real name being Luka), so I just figured the surname was going to be a lost cause.
Nevertheless, this is the conversation that transpired between us when she unleashed the Spanish Inquisition on me:
Mom: ‘Hi honey, just calling to see how things are going. Say, how do you pronounce Luka’s last name again? You are going to take it, aren’t you? Or are you going to hyphenate? Just want to make sure I can pronounce it.
Me: (Deep breath) ‘Ok Mom, its Markovic. Mar-Ko-Vich.
Me: “No, Mar-ko-vic’
Me: ‘Nope, not Merkarma Mom, MAR-KO-VICH’
Mom: (deep sigh on her end) ‘Mary-Kug-vok?’
Me: ‘I have an idea, why don’t we talk about something else for twenty minutes, and come back to this. Approach it with a new start a little later.
Mom: ‘k, yes, great idea.’
(We continue chatting about God-only knows what for the next fifteen minutes)
Me: ‘Ok Mom, are you ready to try the name again?’
Me: Ok, grab a pen.
Me: (pinching nose between eyes with one hand, deep sigh of concentration with the other) “No Mom, Grab. A. Pen.”
Me: Oh for Chrissake woman, GRAB A WRITING UTENSIL SO THAT YOU CAN WRITE DOWN THE NAME
(thirty second silence)
Mom: (laughing) ‘Oh Whoops, did I really just do that?’
Me: (shaking head in disbelief) ‘Yes mom, yes you did’
She never did learn to pronounce his name. God help me if I ever marry a Middle Eastern man. Scratch that, God help that man.