The Princess and the Geek - May 1963 - At the Ft. Hamilton High School Prom.
Did you ever think about how you got to where you are?
Everyone does at one time or another. How did I get here to this place, this time and these circumstances. What happened? How can this be? Or perhaps, boy am I lucky!
Any life has crossroads - important instances when we must make choices. Or moments when the unexpected happens - moments when our future is determined and yet we are completely unaware of the life that is to come.
Bad things can happen to us. Perhaps looking back after your divorce you wonder how you made the dreadful mistake of marrying that horrid person; yet out the awful marriage you have children you adore and who adore you. You can’t picture your life without them. You look at your wedding pictures and wonder how you got from vowing everlasting love to hating each other even as you love your children beyond measure. Would you do it all again knowing if you didn't you wouldn't have those kids?
Do you know when you were at the crossroads? Can you recognize the instant? Perhaps the moment you first met that now hated spouse but thought at the time he or she was cute? If you had passed him or her up you would not have married and your life would have taken a different course - without the kids.
Everyone has that moment - it is simply not possible to recognize it at the time; nor know how it will turn out
Sometimes the moment is so innocent. Someone in class casually asking you to a graduation party. Saying "hello" at a college Halloween party to a guy laying in a casket. A girl you have met before saying "Hi" to you as she is leaving an ice cream parlor. You did’t remember her name but she remembered yours.
All three of the above ended in happy marriages. I guess its just as likely they might have been non-events and totally forgettable. But they were not.
Fate? As an incurable romantic sap I think love finds you when you least expect it.
The picture of the geek in the Buddy Holly glasses and the laughing pretty brunette in gold is me and her at her prom in May 1963. I was 20 and she was 17. She said hello to me when I least expected it. She went back into Hinche’s Soda Shop with me and we had coffee. I had gone there that night to perhaps meet some friends and hang out. Who knew that the Fates were in Brooklyn that night.
She had no prom date. Her boyfriend, Lou, also known as the "bread crumb king" (his family owned a bakery) had broken up with her. "Want to go to the prom? I’ll take you" says I. Another fateful moment. She barely knew me. So I arranged with her to call the next day and she would let me know. She gave me her phone number.
She made the mistake (fates again) of telling her mom and sister that some guy she knew asked her to the prom. "Go! Go!" was the response. The lucky fates were riding high.
So she said she would go with me. Her mom made the dress.
It was at the Statler Hilton (now the Pennsylvania Hotel) - fancy digs for a high school prom almost 50 years ago. We had our picture taken.
She is laughing - because the background curtain exactly matches her homemade dress. Perfect! Smile! Snap!
The instant is frozen forever in time - the princess and the geek.
We went nightclubbing afterwards with friends - to the Living Room where Tommy Edwards was singing ("Many a tear has to fall...but it’s all in the game!") and the African Room where the MC, noticing her shiny blue green eyes recommended I keep plying her with liquor. Brandy Alexanders. Legal drinking age was 18 then.
We rode the ferry to Staten Island then to Brooklyn - two kids kissing at the back of the boat on a warm starry night with the skyline silhouetting us. We got my car and watched the sun rise at Plum Beach - home of the "submarine race watchers".
We married eight months later over frantic objections from our parents.
The instant my life was determined is in that picture - It sits on my dresser.....and now is forever memorialized in the ether of the internet.
She will laugh eternally and I will always be the lucky geek upon whom the Fates smiled.
P.S. Hinche's Ice Cream Parlor is still there. I sat with our daughter in the very booth.