In the Beginning

My hope is that these stories I have been writing during the past six months are either taking you down memory lane or are introducing you to a few stories about the family which are new to all of you. As we approach the thirty-ninth anniversary my first date with Dad, I have been reflecting about my time together with him before we got married. Hopefully, there will be new material in my musings.

I never thought Dad would call me when he asked for my phone number.  I was surprised when he did and said yes despite being told by the girls at work that he was not my type.  They were wrong!

It was a cold January evening. The temperature did not reach thirty degrees that day and there was ice on the ground. Dad showed up in his flashy black corvette, which was probably more impressive to my brothers than to me. Driving to the theater in that car was scary. Being so low to the ground made the speed feel greater. I have since decided that corvettes look like frogs.

Afterwards, he invited me to his place, not to see his sketches, but to play backgammon and try out his new coffee pot. He was so enthusiastic that I didn’t have the heart to tell him I was not a coffee drinker. I don’t know why I went, but he seemed harmless and nice—and he was.

Valentine’s Day was awkward since it was only three weeks after our first date, so I made him a cheesecake.  Dad cooked me a steak dinner, which was when I first learned that normal people got their own steaks, rather than a shared sliver of one family steak.

We didn’t want anyone at work to know we were dating, so at lunchtime, we would leave separately and then meet—so clandestine.

I always wondered what the neighbors thought of him since he would only show up on weekends, and each time, it would be in a different car.  Mysterious. Every week he would bring me a souvenir from the Pilgrim Glass factory which was near the plant where he was working at the time. Did you ever notice them? I have at least three—a cat, deer, and snail.

Dad had a roommate—Don. Don lived in the lower level of their Knoll Garden apartment. We set Don up on a date with my friend Mitzie and it did not go well. They ended up getting into a disagreement on their first (probably last) date.  (It was quite the rumble with lots of yelling!) Don was an argumentative guy, so the disastrous date should not have been a surprise. I believe Dad got into an altercation with him one time that got physical.  Dad punched him. I don’t know what led to the dispute, but I am certain Don deserved it.

Fairly early in the relationship, Dad invited me to spend the weekend at his parents’ house in Yonkers. I thought it was going to be like Jenny Cavalleri visiting Oliver Barrett’s family in the movie Love Story.  (Oliver had a rich family, while Jenny did not.) But alas, their house was not a mansion like in the movies, but a normal house like mine. That was when Grandma Rita broke out the tongue to eat, and Dad said there were no other choices as I mistakenly recalled in Tongue For Lunch- Oy Vey!

I was not comfortable with his friends and didn’t even know if I liked him. I wanted to break up with Dad, but somehow, one of my cousins convinced me to “let him spend money on you and see what happens.” There are at least five people who owe their lives to that decision!

Young Gene and Karen


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