Friday, April 24, 2009

When Harry Met Sally

No, wait. I can't use that as a title for this post. His name isn't Harry, and mine isn't Sally. But it is about a meeting that changed two people's lives.

My daughter knows the story of how her parents met but has been after me for years to write it down. So, as they say, here goes.

I was in my sophomore year at Northern Illinois University. Because I was a member of a sorority (give me a break, it was the 1960s, okay?), I was required to be at a meeting being held in the Student Union on campus one night. After the meeting broke up and we headed back to the sorority house, some of my sorority sisters suggested we stop long enough to check out what was going on at a big dance that was currently in progress in the Student Union ballroom. Heee-uuuge room, there must have been several hundred (hot and sweaty) kids in there. Reluctantly, I was dragged along and as I stood at the edge of the crowd watching some dancers on the floor, I felt a tap on my shoulder.

There stood a tall, skinny guy with glasses who asked me to dance. I had no idea who he was, but it was a fast dance so I figured, why not? We introduced ourselves to each other but having any kind of a real conversation was impossible because the music was so loud, the room was very crowded and quite dark with lights flashing on and off casting all kinds of weird shadows. He asked me if I would like to go somewhere to get some coffee and talk. I told him I couldn't because I was due back at the sorority house in twenty minutes. (I truly was.) He then asked what sorority I belonged to, I told him, and he said a couple of years previously he had dated a girl from the same sorority. I knew her from the year before which had been her senior year. She was really nice, intelligent and I figured if she had dated this guy, he couldn't be all bad. When I refused to go have coffee with him that night, he asked if he could call me some time. I said sure thinking I'd never hear from him again.

And I didn't hear from him . . . until two weeks later. During that phone call, we made plans to meet and go for that coffee date after one of my classes in the Fine Arts Building a couple of days later that week. The Fine Arts Building was good-sized, a sprawling two-story affair with a huge central lobby where we had planned to meet. As I descended the stairs from the second floor after my class that day, I looked down upon the open lobby area with people flowing up and down both stairways, pushing in and out of the two sets of double doors, and milling about everywhere, it dawned on me that I really didn't remember just what this guy I was supposed to meet looked like. I mean it had been very dark in the ballroom when we met, and frankly, I wasn't paying a lot of attention to him thinking I'd most likely never see him again. After a few moments of mild panic, I thought okay, he's tall and thin, wears glasses, I remember that, this shouldn't be too difficult. Shortly I spotted a guy standing over near a wall, kind of looking like he was looking for someone. Tall and thin, but . . . uh-oh, no glasses. Oh, well. I took a deep breath, smiled, walked up to him and said hi.

Was it love at first sight when we finally got a good look at each other in daylight? I don't know if I'd say that for certain, but there definitely was a lot of interest on both our parts. Actually, it probably didn't take more than two more dates before we both knew this was it. The funny thing was we were both in relationships at the time that weren't going well. He was involved with a hometown girl he had dated since high school, she was ready to get serious, but it didn't feel right to him. I was dating a guy at college, he was Jewish, I wasn't, and his family had made it abundantly clear that anyone outside of the Jewish faith would not be welcomed into their family. Roy (the tall, thin guy, sometimes glasses, sometimes not) had shared his situation with me, and I told him about the guy I'd been dating. A couple of weeks after we met, Roy called and told me he'd completely broken off his relationship with the hometown gal the night before. How 'bout that? I had done exactly the same thing with my Jewish friend the very same night.

And the rest, dear readers, is history. We were married eleven months after the night he tapped me on the shoulder in the crowded ballroom and asked me to dance. I once asked him what made him notice me that night with all those people milling around. He said he was attracted to my nice legs . . . which blew me away because I've always disliked my short, little legs that barely reach the floor. Just shows to go ya, ladies, wear short skirts and keep your legs shaved. (Oh, my gosh, how politically incorrect of me! I can't believe I said that. Did I say that?)

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