Good morning, Sharon fans.
While often mistaken for the incomparable Ms. Wheatley on the streets of her native Cincinnati, closer inspection usually gives me away as decidedly not her. Maybe it’s the utter lack of any kind of belt voice, though I suppose it could be the moustache. Either way, if you’re anything like me – moustache not withstanding – you’re here right now for your morning dose of blogisode crack. My Own Space is the first thing I seek online every morning, so I’m sorry if you were expecting the queen bee. Today you get methadone. Not quite as good as blogisode crack, but hopefully enough to get you through the morning. If you need the real thing, now would be a good time to buzz through the archives. I strongly recommend the Las Vegas blogisodes. Maybe if they get enough hits Sharon will actually finish them for us. (I kid because I love, but we’re so close…)
So who am I and what am I doing invading My Own Space? My name is Mark Motz. That’s a
long O, like the moats you’d find around castles, not a short one like Mott’s Applesauce, the most common mispronunciation and a dead giveaway when telemarketers ring. “No, there’s no Mr. Mott’s here. Sorry. Thanks for calling.”
I met Sharon my sophomore year of high school, when she was a mighty senior, in the 1985 spring production of Theatre Xavier’s Bye Bye Birdie. It was my first show and I played the small-but-pivotal role of the mayor of Sweet Apple, Ohio. Sharon was Mae Peterson.
Our edgily updated show sang not of Ed Sullivan, but instead of Dave Letterman. These folks and the other juniors and seniors were gods to me as a kid, some Olympian ideal of theater. I could barely speak in their presence. Sure, mine was a very limited window of experience then, but not only were they amazingly talented, but they were actually nice. Anyway, Sharon and I grew up in the same eastern Cincinnati suburb of Anderson Township and occasionally – not yet having a driver’s license – I would catch a ride home in the Wheatley VW Bug.
Speaking of eastern Cincinnati suburbs, I’d be remiss – if like the queen bee – if I didn’t mention where I began writing this guest blogisode. Beechmont Mall, where alert readers may recall Sharon misspent much of her youth. It’s actually called Anderson Towne Center now, and I’m in a Caribou Coffee right about where the SuperX* used to be. (I finished up on my patio, overlooking the magnificent park at Beech Acres, a former orphanage where once when I was 3 my parents packed up my sister and dropped her on the front steps as punishment for whatever egregious sins a 5-year-old girl can commit. Don’t worry. They just drove around the circular driveway and picked her up right away. Suffice it to say, though, the Motz children were pretty well behaved thereafter.)
(* SuperX – A long-since defunct pharmacy chain¸ not an adult bookstore.)
Anyway, when Sharon announced Monday there would be minimal blogging this week, I could feel the withdrawal shakes setting in and got in touch. The exchange via Facebook went as follows…
“MM: If you need a guest blogger, I can bang out 1,500 words on the topic of your choosing.
SW: Please guest blog about being my PTBF and why you are still single all the while being oh-so-adorable.
MM: Are you serious?
SW: Totally. Nervous?
MM: Suddenly I am. But gimme a deadline and I’ll get cracking.
SW: Your deadline is Tuesday (tomorrow) by midnight to publish on Wednesday. You can talk about your grandparents, too.”
I’m sure you’re all dying to know what a PTBF is and how I got the gig, so let’s start there. PTBF stands for part-time boyfriend. Evidently the queen bee believes the legendary Rob Meffe – aka Rupert McFee, aka Jesus – needs some backup. In the grand tradition of SMASH: Fact or Fiction, we can safely call that fiction. He’s legendary for a reason. Still, when the Meffe-Wheatleys were here over the holidays and kindly appeared in a pair of concerts benefitting a scholarship fund in honor of Michele Mascari – our Birdie director, who is celebrating her 30th year at the school – a lot of old stories came up. Among them were tales of Sharon’s penchant for unwittingly dating gay boys who later came out and broke her heart. She mentioned I should have taken her to prom. Alas, being only a sophomore with no license – and prom reserved for seniors – that wasn’t on my radar nearly as much as the exploits of Hulk Hogan and Rowdy Roddy Piper. Hopelessly straight, but hopelessly clueless, too. I mean look at what Sharon wrote on my Birdie show poster – “love and lust” – and still I missed the point. D’oh.
Well, to show there were no hard feelings, Sharon offered me the position of PTBF. I’m to be on standby in case another prom opportunity arises. In the unfortunate event Rob can no longer carry out his husbandly duties – or, more likely, is too busy performing in the pit or ending famine in Sub-Saharan Africa – I will be available to escort Ms. Wheatley down the red carpet on the way into the Tony Awards. Pretty good deal for me, I’d say. (I also better take a moment now to acknowledge another Cincinnati superfan and dear friend, Cathy Creason, who landed the role of PTGF the same night I got my PTBF job. The queen bee likes to have her bases covered.)
That I’m available to be the PTBF is because I’m “still single all the while being oh-so-adorable.” The oft-asked question is why? I mean the orphanage incident really didn’t screw me up that much. People have said I look like Tom Selleck – I am 6-foot-4 like him, with good blue eyes and the ‘stache – or what’s-his-name from House… Hugh Laurie? I don’t see that one, but I’ve heard it on more than one occasion. I love kids and have nine godchildren ranging in age from 2 to 17 years old. Only two of them are related to me by blood, so friends must think I’m a pretty decent guy. (Aside: I went to Chicago a couple weekends ago with the oldest godchild and his parents to look at schools where – Lord help him – he will pursue a degree in theater. Columbia College across from Grant Park is the frontrunner right now. Any Columbia people out there? Shout out to the periwinkle and black. I met a faculty member there – Tom Mula – who wrote the delightful Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol, a play he developed while playing Scrooge for seven years at the Goodman Theater. Pretty cool, huh? Speaking of writing – and going further aside – time for a shameless plug. I’m writing the book and lyrics for a new musical composed by my friend Jered Ryan, a sensational Cincinnati musician. You can follow our progress via Facebook at “Variables” A New Musical as we try to have our first draft completed by June. If any of you Broadway types want to invest – or can point us in the direction of investors or workshop opportunities – we’re all ears.)
Back to my singlehood and the last thing Sharon wanted me to cover – my grandparents. At the end of the day it’s their fault. They wrecked marriage for all of us. Nobody could hope to do it as well as them. About six months after their first date – a 1939 Memorial Day Weekend picnic – grandpa was driving grandma home and took a wrong turn. Intentionally, it turns out. He stopped the car in front of a funeral parlor and pulled out a ring. He told my grandma, “If you say yes, this is the only place you’ll ever get rid of me.” That’s pretty strong, isn’t it? They married June 1, 1940 – renting chairs from the funeral home to fill my great-grandparents’ yard for the reception – and were inseparable until grandpa passed in January in 2010, just short of their 70th anniversary. True to his word, services were at that very same funeral home. How does somebody not one tenth the man he was follow that act? No pressure, right? But that’s what I want, too – a lifetime. Or as grandpa would put it, “I said ‘I do,’ and I do. Every day.”
For now, though, PTBF to our fabulous hostess will have to suffice. Thank you for indulging me. If blog hits haven’t sunk lower than a snake’s belly, maybe I’ll be invited back for another crack at it somewhere down the line. If not, there’s always the way-too-talented-for-her-own-good Charlotte Meffe waiting in the wings. Either way, have a terrific day, thanks again and tune in for more of My Own Space later in the week.
(SMASH Fact or fiction appears tomorrow! Same time, same place!)