“I’m going to marry that girl.”
Those were the very first words I spoke, as I laid eyes on her for the very first time.
I grabbed my best friend Lenny’s arm and said, “Dude, did you see her? I’m going to marry that girl.” He responded, “Get in line, pal, because, if anybody’s marrying that girl it’s going to be me.”
Lucky for both of us, Len was talking about a pretty blonde named Kathy. I, on the other hand was talking about Charlene, and I meant it, by the way. From that moment on I was absolutely certain I had met the person I would spend the rest of my life with.
Love at first sight.
Many believe that true love at first sight is not possible. I am here to tell you, while it may not be common, it's very VERY possible. The feeling by the way was absolutely NOT mutual. For Charlene, it was NOT love at first sight. I don't think it was love at 1000th sight. If anything, she found me to be creepy, as I could do little more than stare at her. In fairness, that stare, coupled with my googley eyes, can make me seem creepy pretty easily. I did not care. Well, actually, I did care. I was hit hard and I would have done anything to be with Charlene. Anything.
Anything…like…bringing her magic markers and crayons, so that she could write love notes, and draw pictures to the guys she had crushes on. She was 14. Drawing pictures was acceptable. By the by, despite her youth, it would be fine for us to date, because I was a much more mature 16. So, you know.
Anything, like asking her to my prom, despite the fact that I had a girlfriend. Anything like, breakup with two or maybe three (who’s counting?) female friends, just on the off chance Charlene would finally see passed my googley eyed freakishness and somehow decide to have mercy on me.
For ten months, I was chasing that rabbit around the track. Charlene held her ground. She didn’t like me “like that.” But she loved me “as a friend.” I was devastated but undeterred. I never lost the thought that I would make her my wife. I became a shoulder to cry on, a confidant to confide in, comic relief to make her laugh when she was down. We became very good friends, but she was NOT attracted to me. Which was a point of confusion for me.
The night we met, I looked goooooood. I had on my best “Joe Bod” T-shirt. (Purple, with a white velvet Brooklyn on the front, Joe Bod on the back with Lightning Bolts and on each sleeve a Playboy Bunny with rhinestones in each eye.) I had on black sweats, rolled up to the knee, with black joints on my feet. I was a huge guido. How Charlene did not beg me to marry her right on the spot is a question for the ages.
Our first meeting, by the by, took place at auditions for the musical Grease at my high school. I was called back for Kenieke and Charlene was called back for Frenchy. Neither of us got the parts because all I could was stare at her. Another, sort of interesting plot point to the story is that I almost did not audition at all. I decided to audition in the first place because a girl asked me to. Prior to this, I had never auditioned for anything, so just showing up was a big step for me. There was however another wrinkle.
My mom helped my friend and me prepare for our singing auditions. After the practice my mom stated very somberly and 100% seriously, that she did not think I should audition, because, “You can’t sing.”
“You can NOT sing. You are almost completely tone deaf.”
I was crushed. The next day, “You can’t sing.” Kept ringing in my ears and I came VERY close to bagging the whole thing. But I did audition and I made the show as the lead male dancer. Astonishing as I can NOT dance. Charlene was cast as the lead female dancer. Kismet.
The show was great, theatrically. Romantically? Not so much.
It took 10 months. Ten months, of chasing, of begging and pleading. Then one Saturday in mid October, Charlene took a ride with me to pick up dinner for the Stage Crew. I was a senior now, so I had a car and I got to do things like pick up dinner. We bought $150 worth of Wendy’s and were on our way back to the school, when Charlene did something so cute, we giggled and giggled until suddenly out of nowhere, we were kissing.
We kissed in the parking spot for a long time, and then realized we had all the food getting cold in the back, so we drove. We drove fast and tried to get stopped at EVERY light so we would have another chance to kiss. I was speeding to lights and slamming on the brakes to steal another smooch.
By the time we got back to Stage Crew I had a small lake of soda and soaked food, all completely destroyed.
The date was October 20, 1985. Twenty five years ago.
More than half of our lives have been spent together through good times and bad. Charlene is still the most beautiful girl I know. She is still my best friend.
We always say, “no matter what.” We’ll stay together, love each other, no matter what. It’s not just a catchy phrase. We live by it, today and always,.
10/20/85 to 10/20/2010.
25 Years seems like 25 minutes and it's just begun...
Charlene, thank you... I will love you forever…
No matter what.
Joe Narciso is a writer/director/actor living in New Providence with his wife, his three girls and Parkinson's Disease. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org -- www.joenarciso.com -- www.microNORMOUS.com .