I had known Gail all of my life since her parents and my parents were long time friends. Everyone on both sides of our families believed that someday Gail and I would get together. So, after I got out of the Air Force, we started dating. But, it wasn’t long before, what everyone else failed to realize, the obvious difference between Gail and I could not be ignored. I was Protestant and she was…crazy.
I don’t mean “showing up at the Senior Prom in a clown suit with an M-16 crazy.” But she would argue with me about everything. It was unbearable. I knew I only had two choices; breaking up, or homicide. And, since no one has ever dialed nine-one-one for breaking up, that’s the path I chose.
But fate played a cruel joke on us. While I was away, trying to find my calling, my older brother, Steve, and Gail’s older sister, Linda, started dating, fell in love and got engaged. We were both asked to be in the wedding party. During the five months leading up to the wedding, Gail and I were thrown into social situations where we managed to say very little to each other and make eye contact even less.
Then came the day of the wedding and I remembered how everyone smiled when those two little words were spoken at the end of the ceremony – open bar.
Everyone was aware of the problems Gail and I had in the past, so when the band played a slow song, I decided to do something about it. I got up, walked slowly to Gail’s table, stretched out my hand and said, “Would you like to dance?” She said, “Yes” which surprised me, since I expected a knee to the groin.
The crowd applauded as we danced. As the evening wore on, we had a few more drinks and a few more dances. Apparently, all was forgiven.
After the ceremony, the entire wedding party was heading to this bar in Asbury Park, where some of us had been hanging out. It was just a hole in the wall, but they had some awesome local live bands.
Since I had caught a ride to the reception with someone, Gail said she would drive. You have to remember, this was the 1970’s and DUI, back then, was a birth control method for a dyslexic.
When Gail and I arrived, everyone else was already there. They all looked so out of place in this dingy bar with the guys in their beige tuxedos with gold piping trim. Ah, the 70’s, so colorful; and the gals in their purple velvet gowns.
After, Gail drove me to her house. That’s when she asked me to come in. I figured she’d make us coffee, sober up a little and then drive me home.
Instead, we were no sooner in her house, when she gave me a kiss that melted the gold piping on my tux. I began thinking how much I like women who like liquor.
Suddenly, she had a change of heart and asked me to leave. Okay, it was mid-February, the coldest night of the year, four degrees outside and I was dressed in a neon tuxedo. As I made my way through the frigid streets of Long Branch that night, the words of my dear sweet dad went through my mind – “Women, can’t live with ‘em. End of thought.”
There was just something about Gail and I when we were together; an unexplained sexual tension. As the years rolled by, we’d always flirt with each other, in hopes that given the right circumstances, something would happen. Over the last forty years, it would have been nice to find out, but whenever she was married, I wasn’t and whenever I was married, she wasn’t. I’d like to think we were victims of unsynchronized passion.