September 9, 1967. That’s when Rosemarie and I got married. We met at her sister’s wedding four years earlier. The groom was a good friend of mine. Both Rosemarie and I were in the wedding party so there were several visits to her house, plus the wedding itself that afforded me an opportunity to talk with her. Even at 18 I hadn’t quite figured out how to approach and carry on a conversation with a girl of interest AND a girl as incredibly pretty as this one.
Fact is, I was a bit nerdy and a lot insecure, so my chances of getting beyond “Hi” were slim to none. But she motivated me like no one else ever before. She was different. She was not only a knockout to look at, she had this personality and a smile that—I hate to use clichés, but—lit up the room.
Rosemarie was a blur the first time I saw her. That’s because she had curlers in her hair and didn’t expect strangers to be coming in the front door. She had nowhere to hide but she was desperate not to be seen. The blur I saw was Rosemarie as she took a dive behind the couch and wedged herself in between it and the wall. No one paid her any attention…except me. I was led to the kitchen, the place I would later learn was where all the action was in Rosemarie’s household. I looked back as I entered the kitchen just as Rosemarie felt the coast was clear and then another blur as she sped across the living room and up the stairs out of sight.
I know that there were maybe five or six incomplete sentences exchanged between us the few times we were in proximity of each other up until the wedding. I have no idea what we talked about. And that’s not because I can’t remember what was said 50 years ago. Hell I was so enthralled with this beautiful girl who actually conversed with me that I probably could not have told you what was discussed even moments later.
It wasn’t until the wedding reception that I began to realize time was running out. I may never, or at least hardly ever, see this girl again. My mother pulled me aside at the reception and asked, “Who’s that pretty young lady in the wedding party?” I told her it was one of the bride’s sisters. My mother went on to comment about how adorable Rosemarie was. It wasn’t until later that I figured maybe—just maybe—my mother sensed my attraction to Rosemarie and this was her way of encouraging me on. I never picked up on it at the time. I was too out of it.
Okay, I lied, there was one item of discussion between Rosemarie and me that I do recall and it was critical information. She had mentioned that her high school’s annual drama performance that year was Grease. Miracles of miracles, the week of the wedding what better movie to open than Ann Margaret starring in Bye Bye Birdie, well acknowledged to be the predecessor to Broadway’s iconic Grease. It was the missing link I needed. No, I didn’t ask her out then and there. I chickened out. Instead, I went home and spent two days fretting over the entire challenge before me: asking a gorgeous girl—the type who would never, ever consider me worthy—if she wanted to go out with me. I had never done this before. I rehearsed my opening line for two days. “Hi, it’s Marc from the wedding party. How would you like to go bye-bye…birdie, that is?” Clever, huh? Well, to cut to the chase, she said “yes” and I damn near fell off the floor since that’s where I was sitting at the time.
I later found out that it wasn’t my charm and wit that had convinced her to go out with me on that first date. Nope…it was her mother, indirectly. Rosemarie, at the time, was dating another young man and her mother was alarmed that the relationship was growing far too fast for a daughter still in high school. Her mother was pressuring her to back off. Rosemarie, always the brainiac, saw me as an opportunity to get her mother off her back at least for the moment. So I was deliberately chosen as a decoy, a deflection, a stopgap…whatever you want to call it. But, ultimately, I had the last word. There was not a weekend to follow after seeing Bye Bye Birdie, other than when we attended schools 200 miles apart, that Rosemarie and I were not together.
It’s been that way all the way from 1963 to 2016. Now, of course, that silly question always comes up: What is the secret to a lasting relationship? I always give the stupid guy’s answer. “It all comes down to remembering two words: ‘Yes Dear’.” But in reality it is really the exchange of three words and a lot of meaning standing behind them: “I…Love….You.”