In March of 1968 I went on a blind date. This was a new experience for me and I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was the guy’s name. I insisted my best friend and her boyfriend (who set up the date) tag along in case my date turned out to be Hannibal Lecter (hey, it could happen).
As soon as I answered the door, I felt like I was in the middle of a chick flick. I stared at him, smiling; I heard birds tweeting and angels singing “Today I met the boy I‘m going to marry“. On the other side of the door my date was staring and smiling back at me. I think he heard the music, too.
His name was Bill.
I’d just turned 17 and he was not yet 20. Bill was different in so many ways from any guys I knew, most notably was the fact that he didn’t look like he belonged to La Cosa Nostra. He was tall, lean, tan and blonde and the way his biceps looked in his white t-shirt made my stomach flutter.
We went to another friend’s house for a party and spent the whole night talking to each other. After that blind date, we didn’t go out with anyone else ever again.
Bill’s what I affectionately call “a mutt” and he’ll be the first to agree. He’s 1/2 Irish, 1/4 Finnish and 1/4 Italian. He’d never met a first generation Sicilian girl like me before let alone gone out with one (we’re a rare breed, you know!); he thought I was “exotic” and looked like Sophia Loren. Every time he said that I got goosebumps – and he said it a lot.
We were crazy about each other; two years after that first date we got engaged and two years after that we got married.
Bill’s a real handy-man, the kind of guy who can fix just about anything. Back in the Stone Age before Google, we had a bunch of ‘do-it-yourself-books’. If Bill didn’t know how to fix something, he’d read about it. And if the books didn’t help, he’d solve the problem himself. He wasn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty – whether he was repairing an engine or changing a diaper.
Not only is he a hands-on kind of guy in every aspect of our lives, he’s also very smart and I don’t mean smarter than your average bear. Bill is flat out brilliant and that’s not a word I toss around lightly. He’s got the degrees to prove it but he’s too humble for that and definitely not the type to rub his smarts in your face. He has a classic wit – a dry and clever sense of humor that makes me laugh every day.
They don’t come any better than Bill. He’s the homebody type, not one looking to go out partying. His one guilty pleasure is fishing. He’s loved fishing since he was a kid growing up on City Island and you can find him on his boat every Saturday. In fishing terminology, Bill’s ‘a keeper’.
Now you can go ahead and call me delusional but I know what I know – and I know Bill.
* He’s colorblind but can identify blue; that’s why it’s his favorite color.
* He’ll ask other shoppers which bananas are ripe because he can’t tell yellow from green; he’s found people are very obliging and happy to help with his “handicap“.
* He loves Carvel soft serve vanilla ice cream in a waffle cone with chocolate sprinkles.
* All his food has to be cooked well done; if you think his burger is done,
cook it for an additional 10 minutes.
* He’s very proud of me and tells everyone I’m “an author”.
* Our doctor adores him and will spend the first 15 minutes of our appointments looking at new photos of our grand kids.
* He’s a die-hard NY Rangers Hockey fan.
* He and his identical twin brother were number 18 in the Vietnam draft
but they failed the physical due to pilonidal cysts.
* He would walk our newborn baby to sleep every night for as long as it took, most times more than an hour.
* He’ll do whatever it takes to avoid an argument.
* Family comes first, always.
* He’s a very generous tipper; people are grateful and remember that.
* I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like him.
* His favorite song is “Only You”.
* He’s a ‘one woman man‘. He doesn’t flirt or stare at other women;
that’s just not his style.
* He’s never given me reason to be jealous.
* He’s the most decent man I know.
* He never forgets my birthday or our wedding anniversary, especially this anniversary because it’s TODAY. And today’s not just any anniversary – IT’S OUR 50th!
I have to believe God knew what He was doing when He brought us together. Fifty years – it just doesn’t seem possible! I look at Bill now and I see the same guy I fell in love with the night of our blind date. I’m awfully glad he was the one on the other side of the door that March night in 1968.
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