Here Back East

By Lenny Ackerman

Couples Meet

I sat across from a lovely couple last week at a friend’s birthday party, in a private room at a local club. The couple were acquaintances, my having met them on several previous occasions socially, but this was our first opportunity to get to know each other more personally. In the course of our conversation—the usual background enquiries and more—I casually asked how they met. Their story made me realize how fortuitous it is when couples meet and truly live happily ever after.

Harry and Miriam had met at Purdue University where they both were teaching in the mathematics department. A mixer for single faculty members was planned, and they were each prompted by colleagues to attend. At the event, the two met and seemed to click right away, to the point that Harry, the senior professor, was comfortable enough in asking Miriam, the young associate professor, “Do you plan on having children?” She laughed and responded, “Of course and many!” That sealed the deal and shortly thereafter they became a couple. They have been calculating the algorithms of their large family and careers ever since.

After hearing their story, I was intrigued enough to ask the question of other couples Patti and I know. Their answers have been wide ranging, yet all the stories seemed to share the element of fate in common. Meetings took place early on in childhood, at high school, at Hebrew School, on holidays, during family events, at college and more currently on Match.com.

Especially interesting meets included one at a camp in the Adirondacks, where families went in the 1940’s to escape New York summer heat, while another was a beach romance in the south of France, where two families reconnected after the War. Then there was reunion of two 80-year-olds prompted by the obituary column in the local paper. Both lost their spouses at around the same time and saw each other’s name, as survivors of the deceased, in print on the same day. They connected for the first time since graduating high school together in Palm Beach 60 years earlier. Many of the meets are instant attraction, even as youngsters, yet what emerges afterward creates the connection. Words like “open” “friendly” “easy to talk to” and “always laughing” are often used to describe the attributes drawing two people closer together.

I met my late wife when I was in the 9th grade and she was in the 8th. I originally had a crush on her sister, Harriet, who was in my grade, but Harriet was more interested in older boys. She wisely offered to introduce me to her younger sister, Judie, whose locker happened to be across from my own. And this is where we first met, Judie and I, a bit awkwardly, in the halls of Benjamin Franklin High School. The awkwardness very quickly gave way to a mutual attraction that sustained our relationship for the next 63 years, until her passing in 2017.

Recently, there was another meet in my life, but this time it was a gradual one. There were no claps of thunder or love at first sight moments, but a somewhat distant friendship of 30 years turned into something more meaningful two years ago. It happened over a few shared meals and through the encouragement of mutual friends, and now Patti is my new partner in life.

It was touching to see the academic couple who, when sharing their story, spoke to each other – not over each otherwhile she lovingly lay her head on his shoulder. Meets that lead to lifelong relationships are like that star forever in the sky that lights up every cloudless night.

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