Who woulda thunk it?
They said it would never succeed, this thing called “marriage.” Suzanne had two failed attempts of matrimony that spanned some fifteen years, and worse yet, my first four marriages ended in divorce court, spanning a total of 19 years.
Then came the moment in January 8th, 1987 when I was attending a birthday party for an eight-year old nephew, Suzanne walked through the door. She had worked as a hairdresser with the boy’s mother. It was a crowded room, but no one else was there but Suzanne and me. Voices blabbered in the background, but the center of attention was too much of a draw. This woman had a glow.
Not only was she beautiful in her conservative attire, including high heels and her blond hair fixed to perfection. She had poise. She exuded perfection and confidence. She spoke fluent French. I started posing questions, friendly of course. She was open and forthcoming, nothing to hide, confident. She seemed amused that I was so attentive.
At the time, we were both still married but separated awaiting the final decree from a judge. We both swore we would never do that again. Yes, we could be friends, but that was all. Not only that, we did not want to field the negative smirks and prognostications from friends and acquaintances.
I took her to the movies. We went on dinner outings. We went to the beaches. We swore to each other, we would go no further. Though each in our 40s, Suzanne treated the relationship like a string of blind dates, no fooling around. Getting physical was off limits. (well, for a while)
After a few months of us both warning myself not to get serious, I realized I had fallen in love. It was the real thing. I thought about her night and day. Nothing in my past could compare. I had met the perfect woman…finally. I only hoped she would feel the same toward me.
I proposed on Valentine’s Day in 1989 (well, kinda), at a swanky revolving rooftop restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale. After entering the dining room, I stealthily handed the Maitre D a tiny box, gift wrapped, and instructed him to wait fifteen minutes, then bring it to Suzanne. Yes…it was a ring.
“Oh my,” she exclaimed, before opening the box. “Isn’t that nice. They give away a little chocolate on Valentine’s Day.” She saw me staring back at her with a wry smile. “Oh,” she said, curiously. “That’s not a chocolate, is it?”
I nodded. This was such an important moment, it had to go right. She saw me starting to tear. She looked at the box, then at me, then the box again. As she awaited my proposal, I remained emotionally choked. I couldn’t talk. So, with a smile, she looked up at me and asked. “Will you marry me?”
From that day on, we tell people that it was she who proposed to me.
Planning a wedding was easy. We’d invite no one, except a witness couple. Who needed to hear the jokes and taunts, doubts and negativity? So we eloped to Hilton Head Island, S.C. where my best friend and his wife owned a condo.
The wedding took place at the Baynard Ruins, a local historical site in the woods and a weathered building that once served as a southern plantation. Only a sampling of coquina walls remained, the floors were dirt and weeds. A Notary Public lady performed the wedding requirements. Friends, Harvey and Judy stood by. Such, my fifth marriage and Suzanne’s third, was finalized. Suzanne was so happy.
The “reception party” took place on the tranquil beach, just the four of us, with wine and goodies, using a beach blanket under a bright moon that served as a light bulb in the sky.
That was thirty-one years ago, this date, June 14, 1989. We are still on a roll.
Who woulda thunk it?
Happy Anniversary, my love. Thank you, for being you.