This is the story of my own romance.
As a romance author I believe that my readers have a right to hear why I am such a “hopeless romantic”. I think my story is truly romantic, I hope I won’t bore you.
One day in the halls of my high school, the High School of Art & Design in NYC, I remember punching this rather annoying, anal hall monitor who wouldn’t let me get onto the school’s escalator between periods. It was common practice for Theatre Arts students to eat their lunch backstage the days before a big show so that we could work on the set; if we didn’t bring lunch from home, we bought it in the cafeteria and took it to the auditorium. Nobody bothered with hall passes! But this creep stopped me, without a proper pass he wasn’t going to let me pass – AND HE THREATENED TO REPORT ME TO THE DEAN. So I punched him and ran the other way.
Years later during the busy days of college and an active social life (oh yeah, I had fun!) I volunteered with the NYC Auxiliary Police Dept, 52nd pct. in the Bronx. My dad was the Auxiliary Captain of our unit by the way. One of my tasks in the AP was to interview new recruits to the unit and make sure they knew what was expected of them – well, 6 months after I joined I wound up interviewing that anal hall monitor, his name was Mark. We still disliked each other intensely; we had some very unkind words to say about each other.
Auxiliaries did foot patrol in the local neighborhood. Invariably the Sgt. assigned patrol pairs and I kept getting paired with Mark. I was irate but I refused to give up going out on patrol and that was the only option I was given. I complained to my dad weekly and he told me that it wasn’t his decision, I should speak to the Patrol Sgt. The Patrol Sgt. directed me to the Lt. The Lt. told me to speak to the Capt. My dad kept sending me on another wild goose chase.
Through the years I had dated quite a bit, my boyfriends were varied in jobs, traits, pastimes, etc. The most memorable were the playwriter who also did a gig writing theatre reviews for a well-known trade paper (he is STILL doing quite nicely and I see items about him and his plays now and then), the guitar player who always dedicated the song “Wild Thing” to me, and the fellow I met in another Auxiliary Police unit who wanted to leave his fortune-500 job to become a state trooper. I received two very serious marriage proposals and actually gave thought to accepting one of them. Anyway, Mark was NOTHING like any of the guys I usually dated.
Then came the day I volunteered for crowd control at a Memorial Day Parade. I was in full uniform and had signed in to wait for my assignment; this was a borough/county wide event and there were many auxiliaries there that I didn’t know. One older gentleman decided to make a play for me and try as I could, I couldn’t seem to discourage him without making a scene. The first person I saw that I knew was Mark, so I went over to him and started an argument about his insignia; the older guy saw that I wasn’t going to pay him any attention so he finally gave up.
After the parade was over, Mark & I were both invited to another unit member’s home for hot chocolate (it was a chilly day!). There was a lot of joking and teasing about a woman who was throwing herself at Mark (she wasn’t there-he was just being ribbed about it) and I joined in the banter. Unexpectedly Mark invited me out for dinner that next weekend – I THOUGHT HE WAS JOKING and I said “sure”. It wasn’t until later that week when Mark’s sis made a reference to my upcoming date that I realized it was for real – I didn’t want to go back on my word. That date was June 1, 1974.
The evening of June 15 we went to a dinner party at his sister’s house. When we left, instead of driving me home, Mark drove behind a deserted and closed shopping center! I had no idea what to expect, honestly a lot of uncomfortable things ran through my head. He proposed! I said No! THREE TIMES. Finally he told me that the only way he was going to drive me home was to accept his proposal – so I said okay, I wanted to go home! Honestly, I had planned to ask my dad to beat him up! But my parents were sleeping… Later that night when my mom asked how my date was, I told them about the proposal. MY DAD WAS ECSTATIC!
Mark and I were married on December 28, 1975 during a blizzard. My sister fell down a flight of stairs at home and I was late to my own wedding while we took care of her. My mom, a diabetic, had a serious sugar reaction and spent the day sick, my grandmother and my dad got into an argument (they were both worried about my mom) and my father-in-law got drunk and sang When Irish Eyes Are Smiling from the dais. Here we are almost 33-years and two fantastic kids later and I still feel like I’m on my honeymoon!
As a writer I always try to put “something” about Mark into each of my romantic heroes, a habit, a comon phrase, any quality… In Courage of the Heart (originally published in 2001, it will be RE-RELEASED by Vanilla Heart Publishing next spring), Adam Sherman has hazel eyes that change color with his moods – so does Mark.