It was a Fall day in New England and I was strutting down Commonwealth Avenue in Boston like I owned the place. It was 1993. I was a freshman at Boston University with big hair and a big fake diamond stud in my ear. Tag Team’s “Whoomp there it is” was playing on the radio as the cars drove by. And I was like John Travolta in the opening sequence of Saturday Night Fever, only much less cool. I was growing up; it was college and I was loving it. No rules. Little money. No worries. Who cared! Only one problem, my love life was like a game show gone horribly wrong. In those first months of school, I played the dating game with disastrous results. Cue the music:
Behind door number one: She was a great girl I met at the radio station who shared my passion for music and comedies, but who had even more passion for rave parties and dropping acid.
Behind door number two: She was a nice girl who turned out to be the dorm hall stalker, actually going into my room when I was gone and parading around the floor in my jacket and clothes.
Behind door number three: She was the stuck up girl who wouldn’t give me the time of day and had a habit of getting drunk on cheap vodka when she wasn’t paying attention to me.
It was three months into freshman year when I was sitting with the friend of the girl behind door number three, pining about my situation, when Gloria walked into my life through the door I hadn’t even been looking for. She had that flowing brown hair, cute smile, and a little halo above her head. Cue the church choir. I was hearing angels and harps. Our first kiss was an awkward one. I went in to seal the deal, and bashed her front teeth with mine. Classy. I nearly chipped her tooth and my life was never the same again. Glo and I sat up talking for hours until the sun rose the next morning. I couldn’t wait to tell my friends about this girl I’d met. I was in love.
She was beautiful, bright, Catholic and Latina.
I was Jewish, white, average looking, and smitten.
I’m still not sure why she picked me. If it were up to natural selection, I’d be a dead man.
As the romance blossomed, I’m sure Glo must have had second thoughts. One time, I washed Gloria’s learners permit in the washing machine the night before her big driving test. She missed the drivers license exam and I ruined her new job as a result. And whereas I NEARLY chipped her tooth on our first kiss, I actually did real dental damage to her once when I fell into her while carrying a stereo speaker. Graceful? Not so much. Are there other examples? Yes. How’d I end up with her? Damned if I know.
In prehistoric times, the caveman or cavewoman could club their love interest over the head and just drag them into a cave. When they said “let’s go clubbing” that’s what they meant.
Suffice it to say, I’m not that far removed from the caveman and I don’t exactly ooze charm but somehow Gloria saw potential. She and I moved into my mother’s house to save money for the wedding because we really tried to pay for everything ourselves. That’ll teach both of us to marry poor. When we got married in 2000 at an inn in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire, it was the intersection of everything in my life up until that point. Gloria didn’t back out. We found a priest and a rabbi willing to make it work. And we dragged our families from hours away and even across the country to be there.
If you ever get married or remarried and you plan an interfaith, interracial wedding with sides of both families many of whom have never met each other, heed this simple advice. Alcohol. It makes it better. We served mixed drinks PRIOR to the vows, and it made it all go just a little easier for family, friends, and anyone who thought we were “meshugenna” for marrying. That means “crazy” in yiddish, one of the few yiddish words I know. Back to the wedding. Glo and I wrote our own vows… I don’t mind saying mine were a hit. I did an alphabetical list- an A to Z of things I liked about Glo.
My vows were carefully written out on the piece of cardboard that comes in the package of new Fruit of the Loom underwear I had bought for the wedding.
To this day, there are a couple of inside jokes on that list which only Glo knows the meaning to. It was a day I’ll never forget. Glo paid less than a hundred dollars for that wedding dress but looked like a million bucks. We were there with friends and family, a gathering of people that I’ll never get to see in one place again. Hoppy got the girl.
I’m accident prone, clumsy, I can’t sing, I can’t dance.
On our honeymoon cruise, we won the Newlywed game because I knew that Glo had nicknamed me “hoppy” due to my lack of rhythm and movement. We scored a bottle of champagne for the public admission and for the next five days as we toured Bermuda in my shorts and knee high socks, random cruise passengers would walk by and say “Hey Hoppy” to Gloria’s new husband. I became a DJ in high school so I’d have a reason to be at the school dances without actually having to dance. To this day, I still slow dance like I’m in school: hold your partner at the waist and pivot around in a circle on the floor like you have a peg leg unable to move anywhere else.
There’s really only two great ideas I’ve had, well three. Marrying Glo was the best idea. As for the other two? When I proposed to Glo, I hired a college violinist to be the private musician for the evening as we sat in a cute Italian restaurant. That went over big- mega big.
It helped make up for the fact that the ring didn’t make it in time, so I had to give Gloria an actual claim check from the jewelry store instead of an engagement ring.
The third great idea was when Glo was pregnant with Alicia. I paid a pregnancy store in LA to give Glo a private shopping spree where she could go and try on whatever she wanted, and take home most anything. They even had sparkling cider and cookies for her. Those were my three big ideas, they haven’t really been topped since. So that’s nearly twenty years since we’ve met… at 365 days a year… and only three good ideas. Its not a very good percentage. But it was enough somehow to get Gloria to decide that I’d make a fitting mate for the long run, and not one of those mates who are killed and later eaten like you see on the Discovery channel.
And it’s been a trick ever since for Hoppy to keep the girl. I know Gloria loves manis and pedis, orchids, and “Sister Act 2” with Whoopie Goldberg. I know she likes to relax with nice glass of wine… Pinot Noir is her favorite. I don’t like to relax and I hate wine. I didn’t even want champagne at the wedding because it gives me a stomach ache. I know she likes shoes, likes to watch the Food Network, Lifetime television, and anything where people dress up in costume to reenact events that happened two hundred years ago or more. I really hate all these things, but somehow Glo and I have managed to make it work. Her “Les Miserables” is my “Ice Road Truckers”.
Gloria knows I love hamburgers, Sam Adams lager, and any of the Vacation movies with Chevy Chase- Christmas Vacation is a holiday classic for this Jewish boy. She knows the remote control stops when it comes to any of the Rocky movies that I’ve been staring at for more than 30 years now. Yes, in the birthing suite when Gloria was waiting to deliver Alicia and they let us watch DVD’s, it was the Rocky movies that I popped in to pass the time. I’m surprised she didn’t call the whole thing off then and there. Gloria knows I am passionate about my Patriots, my Red Sox, and my Celtics…even though she is die-hard Lakers fan. She knows I love her, even when my wedding ring disappears for three weeks and then turns up in a half-eaten tray of Nabisco Vienna Fingers. Gloria knows I love Vienna Fingers too.
Above all, Gloria knows I’m a workaholic-
I am a polygamist. I am married to Gloria and also to my Blackberry.
I picked a job in TV news where I’m always on call to some degree. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. But it comes with a price. Yes, I am addicted to checking emails, sending emails, watching news, and keeping all that stuff moving even on my days off. I will sit there at Disneyland and fire off emails while we wait for Dumbo. I missed my own birthday party once because we had breaking news at the station we were covering. Yes, my own party. And I know it’s not fair to Glo or the girls. Despite my flaws, and yes there are many, many more than we could ever talk about in just one book, Glo has agreed to turn a blind eye. And for that, I am grateful, grateful and surprised, more of a shell-shocked than anything else.