Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad

Portman at the 2009 Toronto International Film...

If they were still living, today would be my parents' 63rd wedding anniversary. They met shortly after World War II had come to a close while my father was stationed as a military policeman at Buckley Field in Denver. At that time, Buckley was associated with the Army Air Corps -- soon to become the United States Air Force -- and now, it's the home of the Colorado Air National Guard.

Sometimes I think it must have come as a surprise to my mother that she and my father even married. Young, slender, pretty, with reddish-blond hair, she envisioned herself footloose and fancy free. She and her girlfriends used to catch the bus out to Buckley where there were plenty of available guys and dancing on Saturday evenings at the Base Exchange. A combination of Natalie Portman and Nancy Allen, from old photos it's safe to say she wasn't merely hot, she was sizzling.

My father was, as they used to say, tall, dark, and handsome. At 6'3" he had jet-black hair that had once been as blond as mine, and hung with a group of guys he'd known since basic training. As my mother told the story, she took one look at him in his leather jacket, turned to her girlfriends and warned, "Hands off the tall one -- he's mine." Then she added, in a quieter tone, "I'm going to marry him."

Pick-up lines vary. Mae West's "Why don't you come up sometime and see me?" from She Done Him Wrong (1933) is a classic. My father's was, "I've got a ranch in northwestern Colorado and I need a pretty little gal to help me run it -- you wouldn't happen to know someone who might be interested, would you?" Gentlemen take note: he was confident, truthful, and according to my mother, had a disarming smile that melted hearts, hers included.

Her family loved him, his father adored my mother and christened her "Youngin," a nickname she would carry all her life. His mother initially threatened to have the marriage annulled; it wasn't long before she and my mother became the closest of friends. Like all children eventually, I've become the curator of memories. Who they were, how they lived, what they struggled with and how they got through, all of it is left to me to chronicle, interpret, and pass along.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad.

(Creative Commons image of Natalie Portman via Wikipedia)
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