The last ten years went by as fast as a bar cart at a Mothers
Against Drunk Driving outing. Come to think of it, it was just
yesterday that I said, “I do” and was headed out to the honeymoon.
Too bad all the flights to the islands were called off because of a
string of hurricanes. All of that planning went down the tubes, but
the subsequent improvisation turned a vacation disaster into one of
the most memorable weeks of our life.
My name is Brady Hart and my wife‟s name is Summer. Our
marriage was truly the culmination of a fiery love affair – there was
no shotgun pointed at my neck and my feet were anything but cold
when I stepped up to the plate. We were married at a beautiful hotel
in Long Island, New York, which is the home of inflated self-worth
and huge doughy bagels.
I was fixed on the Weather Channel a few weeks before the
wedding. The weather in New York was expected to be as beautiful
as the sight of a hot fudge sundae, but the same could not be said
about the storms brewing in Mexico. We picked a mid-April wedding
date because hurricane season is usually hits around the fall in
Mexico. But, due to a strange series of weather anomalies, the
pattern had shifted into full swing and was targeting our honeymoon
week as its launching pad.
If we would have known at the time that we weren‟t alone in
our honeymoon disaster, then the abrupt alternative vacation
planning would have been much more enjoyable. Being faced with
such a limited time frame to book a decent trip we decided to hop in
our Toyota 4Runner and drive out east. Since the off-season in the
Hamptons goes from about October to mid-May, we decided to stay
at a first-class resort and save a bundle off the usual in-season rates.
The Hamptons wasn‟t Cancun by any stretch of the
imagination - if you‟ve ever been in Southampton in the off-season,
just imagine going to Disneyland and the park is closed -- the rides are
all dark and the parking lot is empty. At least that was my initial
impression of the “playground of the wealthy”.
We checked into the Dune Road Resort and headed to our
Honeymoon Suite, complete with complementary champagne, fresh
strawberries, and an abundant chocolates. We were about to get out
of our clothes and take a bath when I clicked through the stations on
the television and saw a listing of “Dunes Events” at the resort.
These kinds of hotel announcements are generally useless but I decided
to waste a little eyesight and see what was happening in our
honeymoon ghost town.
Come join us on our private beach for a bonfire and clam bake at 6:00
p.m. Smores for dessert.
I looked at Summer and said, “It‟s 5:00. We have enough time
for some bath bubbles and then we‟ll head to the beach.” I chased her
into the bathroom and then marital mayhem ensued.
Although I‟m not really a clam fan, unless they are baked and
heavily breaded, the lure of the beach was just too strong to resist.
Once we put on a few layers of clothes and walked outside, the sight
of steaks grilling over an open flame brought a smile to my face. I
was also surprised to see a group of people standing and talking near
It was the kind of spring day that baseball players dream
about -- 60 degrees, a calm breeze, and not a cloud to be found in the
sky. Any raw hint of winter was long gone and much of the Atlantic
Ocean‟s chill was being redirected by the abundance of huge dunes
that blanketed the beachscape like tan ski slopes.
A woman named Julie greeted us – we only knew her name
because she wore a sizeable nametag on her left breast pocket – her
name was memorable because she looked a lot like Julie McCoy from
the Love Boat. She led us over to a group of six people standing by
the large barbeque pit that had been dug in the sand. There were a
group of men in the distance that were stacking wood together for the
bonfire, which was scheduled to take place at nightfall.
“Honeymooners, this is Brady and Summer Hart,” Julie said to
the group after we walked over to them. I said, “Honeymooners?
This must be the other side of Mexico!” The people laughed and then
the introductions began.
The couples appeared to be in our age range, about 30 year old,
and we were all glad to have the company during our misfortune. The
first hands I shook were that of Zack and Mindy Kramer of
Bellmore, New York. I didn‟t even have to ask Zack what he did for
a living because the born salesman exuded pitch. Mindy was a five-
foot sparkplug that obviously gave the strongly built, 5‟11” Zack a
run for his money.
Next on the greeting line were Alan and Amy Noble. Alan
wore a pair of glasses that reeked of responsibility, so I initially
assumed that his head was full of numbers, all kind of numbers. On
the other hand, Amy Noble head was obviously full of hair. Her
quaff was propelled so high that she probably carried an emergency air
pump in her purse.
The third couple on the beach was none other than Wayne and
Kathy Aaronson. Wayne was a dead ringer for Harpo Marx and
Kathy had dirty blonde hair and was as thin as a piece of paper. He
had an infectious smile that she was obviously infected by.
I had initially viewed our honeymoon as a quiet week away
from all of the action, but meeting the three couples had me feeling
anything but remote. The food was incredible and we all ate until the
buttons of our pants threatened to make a pop for it. To add insult to
obesity, Julie brought out a full tray of graham crackers,
marshmallows and chocolate so we could make smores. A few more
bites and the paramedics would have been called in to do a little
We all took a long walk on the shore after dinner and the surf
seemed to have magical powers. Watching the powerful motion of the
tide and the crashing waves gave us a much different perspective then
passing each other in the middle of a mall. All of the defenses people
usually put up were melting away like an ice cube dropped in hot tea.
Summer and I are usually very upbeat, outgoing people, but I
tend to wilt like an dry flower when people seem unapproachable.
My beautiful, bodacious, blond-haired, blue-eyed wife tends to try to
talk to strangers even if their vibes are saying, “Stay away from me.”
When people fail to make eye contact with me, which are most people,
I take the hint and keep walking. Summer can find the good in just
about anyone because she is the most special person on the planet.
Life beats down on people as if they were a rock eroded by
water and the elements over time. I suppose that‟s why people go on
vacations to take a week or two to rediscover the person they left
behind. The guys seemed to band together while we were walking and
the ladies were happy to walk a little slower and measure each other
Guys are funny when they talk amongst themselves; women
think we might talk about current events, or things that happen at
work, but nothing can be farther from the truth. When we play golf
or go on vacation, the conversation generally focuses on some of the
greatest accomplishments of our life. Vacation translates into leisure,
and leisure translates into stretching the truth a little more each time
the tall tale is told.
Zack Kramer showed us all what he was made of when he
took the lead and started to flex his machismo. He was wearing a
tight, cotton-ribbed long sleeve shirt, a pair of jeans, and some open-
toed sandals. The guy was a walking advertisement for the “I‟m a
married guy but I‟m still available” Club of America. He went into
this story about his Kleinelor party and the rest of us probably
thought back to our Kleinelor parties.
Let me start by saying that I think Kleinelor parties, at least
the wild one‟s, are probably one of the biggest oxymoron‟s known to
man. You‟re making probably the biggest commitment of your life and
you let a disease-carrying skank rub her giblets against you. What‟s
even worse is that most guys like it – sort of goes against the whole
“she‟s the only woman for me” focus. Guys that see it as their last
chance to be with another woman, probably find their way to another
woman during the course of marriage.
I liked Zack, but his story about his Kleinelor party threw us
all off at first. These parties always start with going to eat a good
meal, usually at a steakhouse, and you know the guys always find
their way up to a hotel room. Where else would a bunch of sweaty,
Playboy magazine-raised, sexually underutilized guys go to watch
women shove things into every orifice of their bodies?
Walking behind the guys were a bunch of new brides talking
about their dresses, and the cake, and the bridal party - all the while
avoiding any conversation about their spouse‟s Kleinelor romp.
Summer didn‟t even have to say anything to me, like so many women
have to warn their men to “be careful.” This mild alert should never
have to come out of a woman‟s mouth – it‟s like telling an alcoholic
to not drink when they go in a bar.
My Kleinelor party mirrored the first half of Zack‟s event, but
a few friends took me to Madison Square Garden to watch the
Knicks play the Miami Heat. That was my idea of stripping life
down to its most essential elements: a good steak and fiercely
contested basketball game. The Knicks even won the game and we all
went home completely satisfied and guilt-free, although I didn‟t feel
that great from the Carvel sundae I consumed in the second half.
Shoot me – I eat when I get nervous, and the Knicks always make me
While some of the other woman had a “tea” for their
Kleinelorette party, Summer bucked the trend by taking a few of her
friends into Manhattan for some shopping and a little dinner. Her
favorite restaurant in the city is a legendary Chinese place called Bill
Hong‟s. The food and service is always incredible, and Summer has a
friend who has been the manager there for years. I think she enjoyed
spending time with such a wonderful person more than the free egg
rolls and other dishes Mai always threw her way.
Zack was knee-deep in his story about “the two strippers in the
hotel room” when we saw a huge flame appear in the distance. Since
we didn‟t see Moses or any bushes around for miles, we assumed that
the blaze must have been the aforementioned bonfire. Alan Noble
was walking next to me and he said, “Saved by the fire.”
The bonfire was one of the most amazing sights I had ever
seen. The sheer power of the flames flickering against the large sand
dunes was another calming influence. The only thing that was
missing was Zack whipping out an acoustic guitar and singing “Time
In A Bottle”. Believe me, if there was a guitar within a three-mile
radius he would have been plucking his way to universal admiration.
It‟s probably important for me to further describe the other
couples we met before I detail the accounts of the honeymoon. Since I
was just talking about the wonderful world of Zack Kramer, then
that‟s a great place to start.
Zack and Mindy Kramer are life-long residents of the quaint
town of Bellmore, Long Island. Bellmore is a spot where people live
the wanna-be life. We all know people like this – they buy expensive
cars and clothing and live in houses way beyond their means just to
prove to everyone that they are important. That‟s a lot of work to get
noticed and “keep up with the Jones‟s”.
The Kramer‟s met when Mindy‟s last name was Orenstein and
she was an aerobics instructor working in a health club. At the same
club, Zack could often be seen parading around in a tank top and a
skimpy pair of spandex shorts. Frankly, if I wore spandex my
“central situation” would lack the necessary support to maintain any
sense of decency.
Zack is one of the guys that would work exclusively on free
weights with the other muscle-heads. There was enough testosterone
in that small area to pump up even the largest Gay Pride Parade.
Those free weights guys log a lot of mirror time and are probably some
of the worst offenders of repeatedly “checking their packages”. Why
do guys have to constantly monitor their equipment? Do they expect
it to fall off at some point, or do they just need the constant contact
with the center of the universe? I‟m sure it will be the subject of a
Discovery Channel special one day. “Today we will discover why men
have to touch their packages more than they call their mothers.”
Mindy and Zack passed each other in the halls of the health
club dozens of times but neither one would make the first move. It
must have been against the “rules of the jungle” in that venue. Zack
didn‟t ask girls out in those days, he just took them by the force of his
bulging biceps. In his warped mind, the power of his waves of
muscles was too much for any woman to resist.
That‟s what I loved about Zack in those days; his single-
minded pursuit is out there for all to see. He didn‟t pretend to be
modest or selfless – it just goes to prove that as long as you know the
make-up of a person, you should never be disappointed with the
Mindy, on the other hand, was a ruthless, no holds barred
attorney that is a quite giving person. She fought for her clients with
the same effort and attention she gave to her friends and family. I‟ve
never seen a person with more energy and willingness to battle for
what she believed in.
It was sort of funny how Mindy and Zack finally got together
– it was late one Friday night and Zach had just concluded his power
workout and Mindy finished instructing her last aerobics class of the
day. They were coming from opposite directions – Zack down the
stairs and Mindy from around the downstairs corner – both were
headed to the locker rooms, which were located adjacent to each other
on the bottom floor.
In true Zack and Mindy fashion, neither one of them would
yield so they wound up crashing into each other like two rams locking
horns. Zack bore the brunt of the crash and suffered a bloody nose,
while Mindy had a small scratch on her left forearm. He had lowered
his head for a minute and she smacked his nose pretty hard with her
“You got a pretty hard head there, aerobics lady” Zack said as
he took off his t-shirt to dab his nose.
She looked at his body and replied, ”A little less work on those
muscles and maybe you could see over them.”
He offered to buy her a drink and she said something about not
drinking with strangers. “How can you say we are strangers? I‟ve
been on dates with less contact!” he exclaimed. She wouldn‟t give in
and they both went to their respective locker rooms. After a couple of
hot showers and some significant primping, they both emerged from
the locker room at the same time. Mindy said, “What, did you watch
me take a shower, too?” Zack replied without even blinking, “No,
someone else was already looking through the hole in the wall when I
They went their separate ways and drove out of the health club
parking lot. Twenty minutes later they were front-to-back at the
local TGIFridays. Mindy was at the bar getting a drink and Zack
was powering down some mineral water. He stood behind her and
said, “If you turn around real fast you could smash into me and give
me another bloody nose.” She replied without even turning around,
“Maybe you wouldn‟t bleed so much if you cut down on some of those
He moved even closer to her until their two bodies were
connected. “Maybe if I move closer to you, I can keep the damage to
a minimum,” he whispered in her left ear
She turned slightly and replied, “Unless you want to lose that
low voice I would suggest moving out of striking distance of my
He shot back, “Are you always this hostile to every good
looking guy you meet?”
“No, just the one‟s who think their god‟s gift” she said.
She turned and faced him and apparently, that‟s when “the
magic” happened. Of course, even though the were kissing a few
seconds later Zack couldn‟t help but angle his body away from those
heels and the potentially harmful impact they could have on his sex
Alan and Amy Noble‟s concept of love is a long ride from the
storybooks. Their relationship was based on control, and control was
obviously the fuel that filled up their tanks. Some people like to let go
and allow life to progress at a natural pace and let destiny take its
course. The Noble‟s left very few things up to chance, including
meeting each other and forming a relationship.
Unlike the Kramer‟s, Alan Noble and Amy Klein joined health
clubs because they received special discount post cards in the mail, not
because they were extremely body and fitness conscious. Besides, Amy
never worked out too hard because she refused to take a shower in the
health club‟s locker room. Someone once asked her why she had to
shower at home and she replied, “Have you ever tried to use that
weak hair dryer?”
From the looks of Amy‟s hair, a wind machine used on movie
sets would be a decent match for her elevated nest. She is a fairly
attractive woman that happens to be fixated on her hair, but that
worked to her advantage when Alan spotted her one night at a
single‟s event. Instead of walking up to her and making disposable
conversation, Alan decided to request a formal introduction. Formal
introductions were part of this Melville, New York singles club –
instead of meandering around and never getting to meet the person of
your dreams, the Meet Your Match organization let its clients submit
a request to receive a formal introduction (at no extra cost).
Amy was pulled aside at the party and shown a picture of
Alan that the organizers had in a bound book. The Meet Your Match
people were quite organized and had experienced a 75% success rate
on formal introductions. Of course, this number was slightly padded
because at least one-third of every proposed introduction was turned
down at the picture-viewing phase.
I‟d like to say that it was love at first sight for Alan and Amy,
but she saw enough in that initial glimpse to let him proceed further.
He wore a decent suit, had a conservative tie and watch, and wore
extremely sensible shoes. Amy was on the prowl for a husband and no
ordinary David would do. Her incredible hair and sparkling green
eyes mesmerized Alan. He was also looking to get married and the
wait to find Mrs. Noble had been fairly painful.
It seems that when men and women step up to the age when
society thinks they should get married, the pressure to tie the knot gets
turned up a few notches. Alan was always known as the “safe guy”
or the “nice guy”, but woman in the their high teens and early 20‟s
want adventure not tax tips.
Alan had progressed from his roots of dating boredom to being
a hot commodity on the marriage circuit. Average guys with solid jobs
were now the hot commodities, putting hunky guys with tepid
prospects at a competitive disadvantage. Amy was looking for a
conservative person that would let her wear the pants around the
house – what she found was a loving guy who would let her wear any
pair of trousers she could find.
The formal introduction process was quite simple – once the
request to meet was accepted, the people involved would be separately
escorted to a private table and the meeting would take place. With
the loud music of the party in the distance, couples would have a
chance to get to know each other at their own pace. Through trial
and error the Meet Your Match organization had refined the meeting
technique and always had someone stationed nearby in case the match
No such intervention was needed on the night that Amy and
Alan were introduced. Alan walked up to the table where Amy was
seated and said, “Hi, my name is Alan Noble.” He reached out with
his right hand and took her right hand into a gentle shake. “Amy
Klein” she replied as she checked out Alan like a butcher surveying a
cut of meat.
Amy was never an impulse buyer – when she went shopping
her well thought out list was usually followed to the letter. I wish I
could say the same thing for Summer and my shopping habits – we
always have a few things we are looking for in a store but wind up
with a basket full of impulse items. Amy knew exactly what she was
looking for in a husband and the “jury was still out” when they first
The grilling began the minute Alan sat in his chair. The
questions weren‟t that difficult but the answers had to be phrased in
a way that left the door open to hope. “Where do you work?” was
followed by “What‟s your title?” He calmly looked into Amy‟s eyes
and said, “ I‟ve worked at Disney for two years and my title is
Financial Analyst.” He then waited a few seconds and sarcastically
anticipated her next question, “Not that that it matters, of course,
but I‟m on the management track.”
Amy smiled as Alan sat back slightly in his chair and started
asking a few fluffy question of his own. Amy was satisfied with the
answers she had received but I‟m not sure how Alan knew he was on
the “management track.” The son-of-a-bitch was on target, though,
I‟ll hand it to him. He became a manager of Disney corporate within
five years and ran the New York office by year seven.
As for Alan and Amy, their initial business meeting went so
well that they were married 1.4 years after the day they became
engaged. This number was especially significant given that 1.4 years
was the national average between a couple‟s engagement and their
wedding day. You can tell that everything is usually “by the book”
for Alan and Amy Noble.
It was a slow and sometimes painful journey for Wayne and
Kathy Aaronson. Kathy Lamb was the daughter of a Southern
Baptist preacher that managed to escape from Atlanta, Georgia to the
Yankee north of New York. Wayne was born and raised in Roslyn,
Long Island, in a Jewish Conservative household.
Kathy worked for Home Depot and was transferred up north
to implement and train personnel on many of the point-of-purchase
systems in the tri-state area. She had arrived in New York for the
first time about a month before she first met Wayne. On that Friday
night, they both strolled down to the South Street Seaport to blow off
some steam with co-workers.
Once Wayne had a few beers in him, he was able to make the
transition from investment banker to calm, clear-minded guy. Kathy
was fairly new to the area and was enjoying the relaxed atmosphere
adjacent to the Hudson River. New York City had swallowed her up
and was in the process of spitting her out before that trip to the
Wayne is a tall guy, about 6‟3”, and Kathy was clearly visible
in a crowd at 5‟10”. He reached for his beer on the large rectangular-
shaped bar and then looked across the room and seemed to be frozen
solid. His friend Mike said, “What‟s up with you?” and then Wayne
responded, “I‟ll see you later.”
Kathy had picked up her head about the same time as Wayne
and their eyes locked like a lion and a lioness in an open field. There
would be no clichés used on that night – “Can I buy you a drink” and
“Do we know each other” were lines that might have been used on the
other side of the social rainbow, but not in the line between these two
“My name is Wayne” was the way he slid into her life. She
replied with simply, “Kathy” as they shook hands. Providing last
names would have been a futile exercise and it probably wouldn‟t
have been able to impede love. Of course, if Wayne had said, “My
name is Wayne Aaronson” and she had answered, “Kathy McNulty”
then the table would have had all of the place settings instead of an
I often wonder why it‟s so difficult for families to except that
one of their own has fallen in love. Many of the dysfunctional groups
I have seen, view this natural life progression as a slight against the
people that raised them. What should be seen as a joyous pairing is
often viewed as clouded judgment and an event that is taking place
too soon. For some reason, the coupling of people from different
backgrounds seems to really draw a mountain of heat. I guess it‟s
another excuse to voice displeasure as family loses control.
Wayne got tired real fast of hearing his mother say, “She‟s not
Jewish” and “Why do you have to get serious with a shicksa?” All he
knew was that Kathy was the love his life and he could not live a day
without her. The fact that she was Baptist had absolutely no bearing
for Wayne – he might have spent five years in Hebrew School but
that was a long time ago and his beliefs had softened over time.
Kathy received a few “Jew bastards” and “You‟re not marrying
a hebe” from her dad, but she had already climbed in the same boat as
Wayne. Religion was no longer a focal point of her life and she was
letting love lead the way.
In order to get a full view of our Dune Road Honeymoon crew,
it‟s probably helpful for you to hear about how Summer and I met.
There was nothing ordinary about the way my love came to me that
one gorgeous spring afternoon.
I had spent year‟s aimlessly taking laps in bars, unable to relax
and focus. Low light, loud music, and alcohol are a sure-fire recipe
for living alone. I could never seem to get into a good talking rhythm
in a bar, unless it was two or three o‟clock in the morning and I had
deposited a few six packs of beer in my veins.
It also became discouraging and terribly embarrassing when my
mom got involved in my social life. It was one thing when she left her
bright red lipstick on my cheek when I went to the senior prom, but it
was another to be involved in the wife selection process. I think every
man and woman needs to find each other and try to make a
completely subjective evaluation. If anyone tells you that their
objective about love then they must not be in love.
Those blind dates and lame set-ups had me thinking real fast
that I should go it alone. My options appeared to be either: (a) live in
my parents‟ house forever, or (b) find a credible dating service. With
the sobering image of being frozen in time as a teenager, I decided to
browse the Internet and find a way to get out of the dating hole.
The site that made the most sense to me was soulmatch.com,
because it stringently screened its applicants. I wasn‟t looking for a
casual dating experience and neither were most of the people on this
site. Some people were a bit too serious, like Pricilla, who said that
her ideal man “earns over $100,000 and doesn‟t have much of a
family.” She obviously enjoyed shopping and keeping all of that cash
My profile was a little tamer but I was still focused on the
ultimate prize: a life and a wife. To say that people don‟t play games
on soulmatch.com would be like saying that Donald Trump has a big
ego. The mood on my first two dates was so serious that I felt as if I
was on a job interview, not a date
Date number one was a tall drink of water named Kelly
Mathers. The first thing you have to know about me is that I don‟t
like woman that are extremely tall. By “extremely tall‟ I mean over
six feet in length. At 6”6”, I‟m not vertically challenged but I don‟t
feel like a tall person – unless I squeeze myself into the back seat of a
car or spend any time in the coach section of a airplane.
Kelly was about 6‟1” and had a pleasant face for a woman of
such lofty height. I was 29 years old at the time and she was 27, and
it seemed that she was not focused on the romantic side of the dating
equation. She asked me questions like, “Where did you go to college?”
and “What was your GPA?” before she warmed up to “Where do you
work?” and “Where do you see yourself in five years?” My answers
were so bland that I never would have been asked back for a second
I consider myself more a conversationalist than a person
focused on covering my list of questions in order to receive
meaningless answers. I don‟t know where I‟ll be in five years and
what I‟ll be doing – come to think of it, I‟m not even sure half of the
time what I‟ll be doing the next week. Things seem to change so fast
in life whether you want them to or not. What I did realize in my
date with Kelly was that she wouldn‟t be in that future – one date
was more than enough to seal her fate.
The next date was with Belinda Marx, a woman that had an
incredibly high opinion of herself. Most people have some idea of
their self worth, but Belinda seemed to be carrying a helium tank in
her back pocket in case her ego deflated. Our first date was a
complete reversal of my first date with Kathy. I was the one asking
the questions until she used the classic, “Let‟s talk about you. What
do you think of me?” line. I honestly didn‟t know what to make of
Belinda. She was an attractive woman but I couldn‟t get past the air
She lived in New Jersey but worked in midtown Manhattan
at a public relations firm. We decided to meet for dinner one night
and I let her choose the restaurant – mistake number one. Never let a
user and abuser pick the restaurant, or even your nose! After she
made a reservation at Tavern On the Green in Central Park I realized
that it had been a while since I had been to the over-hyped, yet
It was early spring and all of the rollerbladers, joggers, and
bike riders were out in force. There something about Central Park and
oxygen suppressed people that make the venue so spectacular. I
expected to meet Belinda outside of the restaurant, but after waiting
ten minutes past our 6:30 meeting time I decided to venture inside.
I checked with the front desk about our reservation and Jean
Claude said, “The other half of your party has already been seated.” I
though to myself, “Oh, that‟s a nice start.” Belinda was already
diving into a trough of shrimp cocktail by the time I reached the table.
Jean Claude looked straight ahead and said, “This is your table, sir.
Should I keep the cab running?” I slipped him five bucks and replied
“I think I‟ll eat first, so give me about an hour.”
I don‟t think I‟ve ever been as close to walking out of a
restaurant before I even sat down. There have been times when I
looked at the menu and kept walking, but never have I approached a
table and been so repulsed by what I was seeing. Belinda flipped a
shrimp into her mouth like she was a pelican standing on a huge rock.
She must have been real hungry because the waiter delivered a Caesar
salad shortly after they took away the shrimp.
It was awkward when I tried to start the conversation – for a
moment there I felt like a double-Dutch jumper measuring the
swinging rope – watching Belinda shovel food in and winding her
fork up and down became a bit mesmerizing. I finally jumped in by
saying, “You look like you‟re enjoying that food?” She replied with a
affirmative response grunted like she lived in a cave.
After that Tavern On the Green fiasco, I decided to be a little
more selective with my dating choices. Although there was no place
for “Eating Habits” on the extensive questionnaire, I needed a little
more luck with my gut feelings. My last date before meeting Summer
was with a girl that said she modeled underwear. Maybe I was
horny, or maybe I had a genuine interest in ladies undergarments –
you be the judge.
When I met Linda at a posh Soho eatery, she must have been
testing the limits of the “Fabulous Meter” with the local patrons.
Either her ass cheeks had been bronzed and displayed near the front
counter, or she just knew a lot of people in the restaurant. She was
wearing this unidentifiable fabric coat with a feathery boa around her
neck. Linda Perkins was probably trying to impress me with all of
the idol worship but I merely felt left out of the date. She introduced
me to a few people and it was probably the longest walk from a front
door to a table that I had ever experienced in a restaurant.
I‟m not a “beautiful person” scene kind of guy, and I was
immediately having trouble imagining us being a couple. When I
think about marriage and spending my life with one person, the best
friends and lovers vision always dominates. The casual lunch
conversation I had with Linda could have happened with anybody,
let alone an underwear model. Nothing she said struck me as unique
or touching and, in turn, I was lulled into a genuine sense of boredom.
Linda ended the date by giving me a Hollywood hug and a kiss
on the cheek. I think it was her way of trying to save the date and
get me to call her again. Two days later I picked up the phone and
dialed Linda‟s number to tell her “Thank you, but no thank you.” The
struggle that ensued surprised me at first, but after ten minutes of “I
don‟t understand” and “Give me another chance” I hung up the phone
and started running. Linda was obviously a good-looking woman
that got rejected about as often as it snows in Hawaii. I was on a
mission and was a little short with my willingness to give people a
second chance. In my book, it either was or it wasn‟t, and Linda
definitely wasn‟t getting a second date.
The three dates definitely provided me with some input on
where I was in the dating world. It was still up in the air if I was
any closer to meeting my soul match then when I started. The one
thing I was supremely confident in was that I would know her when
I saw her. Being a fairy tale enthusiast, I believed that dreams do
come true if you believe.
I decided to alter my approach slightly for my next round of
soulmatch.com searches. It seemed that native New Yorkers were
rubbing me the wrong way, so I decided to expand my search to
women that were born elsewhere but lived in New York. I had
always been a fan of the Midwest and its healthy outlook on life, so I
decided to focus on substance, not style.
It was a cool, early spring night when Summer‟s picture
flashed across my laptop screen. I must admit that I was a bit
thrown by her name at first, but the sight of that blonde hair and
those blue eyes made me fall in love all over again with my now
Summer and I talked a few times before our scheduled
Saturday afternoon date. The minute I heard her silky voice I was a
goner – we talked for about four hours each time I picked up the
phone and dialed her number – if you ask me now what we talked
about, I don‟t have the slightest clue, but it really didn‟t matter.
Hanging up the phone was nearly impossible; in fact, I called her back
both times to say goodnight again once I reluctantly hung up after
I felt totally at ease when I met Summer at her apartment on
the upper West Side in New York City. She always saw the good in
everyone and even lived in an area, 105th Street and Broadway that
many people said was “evolving”. My eyes saw an area that must
have been in the early stages of that evolution because I instantly
wanted to rescue her.
I took the elevator up to the seventh floor and walked right to
apartment 7D. The door was open slightly but I still knocked and
then said, “Hello? It‟s Brady.” She responded from another room,
“Come on in. I‟ll be ready in a minute.” I walked around the large
studio apartment and smiled as I saw a few pictures of Summer and
Ten minutes later I was starting to get a bit edgy but still very
excited to see Summer in the flesh. “Are you coming out today?” I
asked her. The good vibes were bouncing around the apartment like a
super ball launched against the floor. When she stepped out of the
bathroom my life seemed to make sense – gaps between past lives were
fused and we were together once again. From that moment on I could
only imagine Summer in my life and being my life.
Her face lit up like a rising sun as our eyes met before we
hugged and kissed. I had so many discussions with women in the
past about knowing when you met “the one”. No one really
understood what I was talking about but I never doubted the goose
bump sensation of true love. If you have to think about love, or grow
to love someone, I‟m sorry to say that you‟re not in love. You might
be in lust or in really good like, but true love never wanes in intensity.
It was ironic that I showed up at Summer‟s doorstep that day
with absolutely no plans for the day – once we met, it didn‟t really
matter what we did as long as we were together. We walked through
Central Park and I smiled as we passed Tavern On the Green. Then
we strolled through a bunch of street fairs before we stopped to get
some dinner. Since we had been noshing all day, we both were hungry
enough to eat Chinese food but too full to eat a heavy Italian meal.
We were going to do take out but we happened to bump into
Bill Hong‟s, Summer‟s favorite Chinese joint. The fact that we were
nowhere near either one of our apartments led me to believe that she
wanted to eat there all along. We ate like Chinese royalty largely due
to Summer‟s new acquaintance, Mai, who kept the food coming for
hours. We must have lost track of time because we had spent three
hours in the restaurant talking and munching.
We walked out of Bill Hong‟s, inhaled some polluted air, and
hopped in a cab headed to the West Side. We stopped at Summer‟s
apartment and she grabbed a few things in her apartment, before
getting back in the cab and driving down to my apartment on 76 th
and Columbus Avenue. There weren‟t any long conversations about
the game plan after dinner – we both knew that it took so long for us
to find each other and we would never be apart again.
The Dune Road honeymoon lasted seven days and eight nights
and tested the limits of all of our abilities to withstand extreme
pleasure. I think we all learned that too much of a good thing goes
against all conventional wisdom, and is a good thing.
Aside from hearing Zack‟s stories about “banging the cocktail
waitress” our honeymoons were intertwined in wedded bliss. Of
course, Zack‟s idea of wedded bliss involved giving it to the cocktail
waitress to reinforce his fragile manhood. One of the most memorable
afternoons we spent together was afloat on the ocean, whale
watching. Seeing these incredible beings powerfully cruise by was
definitely a life-changing experience – the sheer fright and excitement
of seeing a living thing of that size was exhilarating.
We made trips together to the Tanger Outlet in Riverhead and
spent a day sifting through the dense fog of Montauk, which is at the
very end of Long Island. In some cities like San Diego, the morning
fog eventually gives way to abundant sunshine. The fog in Montauk,
however, is a completely different level of floating “pea soup”. You
have to drive about 20 miles per hour no matter where you go – by the
time the late afternoon hit the fog had dissipated and we were able to
take in some of the breathtaking water views.
The week we spent together was more about relaxing and
enjoying each other rather than getting to know the mundane details
of our lives. There‟s something about being near the ocean that really
takes the edge off – these were the years before couples became
entrenched in the community and were re-set into separate clicks like
they were back in high school.
That‟s the incredible thing about getting married and having
kids – people seem to regress back into their prior habits even though
their collective wisdom should kick in at some point. The struggle to
figure out life seems to overwhelm couples when they first get
married. A career in flux is paralleled by an independent life that
becomes joined with another person. These two people venture out on
the journey of their lives and hopefully rely on each other for support
and understanding, not judging and scorn.
When Zack stopped talking long enough to eat some food, I
had some good long talks with Wayne Aaronson. Summer and I
usually gravitate to people that need to talk and she was walking and
talking with Kathy Aaronson about the same time I was with her
husband. They were fresh off a weekend with all of their parents in
one spot – in fact, we all needed some time to recover from the “too
many parents in a small space” syndrome.
Most couples have minimal interaction between the parents
during their wedding interlude. The most dominant parents are
usually the one‟s that kick in the most cash. If couples are lucky
enough to throw their own wedding, much of the jockeying seems to
be alleviated. But how many of us can afford to pay for our own
weddings? I see a few scattered hands raised but the majority of us
must rely on our parents to set the stage. This dependence hurls us
into a regression that puts our parents back behind the wheel of our
Wayne had a traditional family that was pretty set on doing
things the “conventional” way. Young Jewish kids are constantly
prodded about the dangers of inter-faith marriage – like non-Jews
have some serious Kooties, or transmit horrible diseases. If marrying
someone from another faith was so serious why isn‟t there a Kootie
shot station at your local church, mosque, or temple? Index and
middle fingers of both hands overlapped, forming a slot for another
person‟s index finger to be cleansed from the dreaded Kooties
epidemic. The whole thing makes no sense.
I felt for Wayne and his struggle for personal independence. It
wasn‟t so long ago that I had a thing for Irish and German girls and
my parents were reading me the riot act. After devouring a bunch of
books on the Holocaust in college, I decided that I wouldn‟t be the
one to break the chain. So many people had struggled for me to be
able to live a relatively peaceful existence that I concluded that I
would marry someone within the faith.
I did a lot of thinking about interfaith marriage, primarily
because I was finding it so difficult to find a laid back Jewish
woman free from a multitude of hang-ups. I also enjoyed with being
with non-Jewish families because their relationships seemed to be a
lot less complicated and twisted. The rose-colored glasses I was
wearing certainly obscured my view of reality – I think I was just
happy to be out of my tension-filled parents house and watch other
people interact for a change.
Of the three other couples we met on our honeymoon, it would
be easy for Summer and I to say that we had the most in common
with Kathy and Wayne. They were obviously the most free-spirited
of the bunch without going over the adulterous lines that Zack loved
to cross. We were the two couples that seemed to fall in love at first
sight – the pain of being without our other half forged a Crazy Glue -
like bond between us.
Wayne still had some guilt about marrying Kathy when he
said, “I would do it all over again in a minute, but I wish the circus
hadn‟t come to town.” Not only were Wayne‟s parents, Sidney and
Barbara Aaronson, objecting to the wedding, but Reverend Calvin
Lamb and his wife Mary also had their reservations. The mix of
ethnicities produced a melting pot of different tastes and beliefs.
Central to quieting all of this controversy should have been Wayne
and Kathy‟s lover for each other. When you break it all down, true
love is the defining leveler for any relationship. By “leveler”, I mean
that it can boost a struggling couple up or drag a marginal couple
Wayne and Kathy‟s love for each other was not just steadfast
it was obvious. That is why the initial connection between the four
of us was so special – we all had felt true love and knew how to share
it with people on the same level.
We met up on the beach one afternoon, sat in the sand and
talked about Wayne and Kathy‟s recent troubles.
“My mom really hasn‟t stopped bugging me since the day I met
Kathy” Wayne said in a frustrated tone.
Kathy chimed in, “She hasn‟t been that great to me, either.
Remember that time we went over your parents house for a barbeque,
and she pulled me aside and asked me if I had ever seen a kosher hot
dog? I was this close to saying, „Yeah, your son has a really nice
Summer stopped laughing and said, “Brady‟s mom has no
borders. I went shopping with her once and she draped some clothes
over the fitting room stall and then walked inside the dressing room
when I was half naked.”
“Did she look?” Kathy asked.
“C‟mon, do you think she‟d barge her way into a dressing room
and not look at the goods?”
“She took my temperature with a rectal thermometer until I
was 12,” I said.
“That‟s just wrong!” Wayne added.
“I thought it was normal until I went down to the nurse‟s
office one day to hand in a medical form. She had a thermometer in
her hand and this eighth grade girl I knew was sitting in front of her.
I was all ready to turn my back to give them privacy when she shook
the thermometer quickly and stuck it in Wendy Crosby‟s mouth. My
ass was both outraged and relived at the same time” I said.
Wayne asked, “What happened the next time you weren‟t
I replied, “My mom really doesn‟t wait for me not to feel well.
She would ask me almost daily how I was feeling, like it was some
Jewish mothering and smothering right of passage. She came at me
with the thermometer and the jar of Vaseline and said I was fine and
ran out of the house. I think a part of her died that day.”
“The anal part?” Wayne joked.
“That must have been a real pain in the butt!” Kathy added.
Summer piled on, “She‟s still always up your ass.”
I leaned backward into the sand and looked up at the sky. Yes
my mom has always been up my ass – that‟s probably why I have
been able to keep it clean. I shot back at Summer, “I thought I saw
your mother in the lobby earlier.”
She was serious at first, “ Really? Brady, I‟m gonna‟ have to
take your temperature if you don‟t behave!”
“O.K.! O.K.! Got the message,” I quickly replied.
“My mom used to rub my chest with Vapo-rub” Wayne
Kathy jumped in, “Hopefully, that was before we met.”
“Yeah, a few years before,” Wayne replied.
I sat up and looked at Wayne and then the girls, “What the
hell is wrong with us. I may have permanent turtle action here!”
“Damn, I just got that thing to come out of its shell!” Summer
The great thing about the honeymoon week was that the eight
of us could mix and match into so many different combinations.
Aside from the normal guy talk and activities, I also played tennis
with Mindy Kramer and talked finance with Amy Noble, who was a
Certified Financial Planner and I analyze stocks.
The tennis game with Mindy Kramer was interesting, to say
the least. She was a strong player and had a real good idea about the
game and where to place her shots. After she kicked my butt we sat
on the grass and drank some Gatorade while talking about life,
lechery, and the pursuit of fidelity.
“You and Summer look good together,” Mindy said to start the
“Yeah, she‟s amazing. Zack‟s a good guy, too,” I replied
She asked, “What do you really think about Zack?”
“What do you mean?” I innocently replied trying to buy myself
“C‟mon Brady! You know what I‟m asking you. Do you think
Zack can go straight?”
I took a deep breath and replied, “I think Zack is a great guy!
He‟s Zack and nothing anyone can do will ever change that. Your
marriage will probably hinge on your ability to do your own thing.”
“I bet you and Summer are never apart” she said.
I took another deep breath, “Yeah, it pains me to be away from
“No, not until you mentioned it” I said as we got up and
headed back to the resort.
I knew that it would be difficult for Zack to “keep it in his
pants”, but how do you say that to someone that just married him.
For god‟s sake, the guy was having conjugal visits with the cocktail
waitress on his honeymoon. Being a salesman, Zack would have
many opportunities to be both out of town and out of reach. Mindy
knew who Zack was when she first met him, but she couldn‟t avoid
the animal magnetism that existed between them. Where there is fire
there is usually smoke that blinds any clear thoughts or vision.
Life is interesting because people are all so different. Without
a general standard of predictability, many of us wade through life
with little more than the shirts on our backs. Living in New York
does nothing to discourage people‟s curious and unpredictable nature
– it‟s like living in a fish tank in the middle of Times Square. Your
life is everyone‟s business in the Big Apple, but is the mundane details
worth the trouble? Amy Noble thought so…
Amy is your average, Long Island walking database. If you‟re
lacking knowledge on a person, place, or thing Amy is an instant
source of information. I was always amazed that Summer and I
found the Dune Road Resort and picked it out over a dozen other
hotels in the area. This entire selection process took us about an hour
to complete – it took Amy Noble about eight hours to come to the
The quickest decision Amy ever made was making sure that she
secured Alan and threw away his dating key. By the end of their first
date Amy had surmised that Alan was a suitable choice for marriage.
She even made him promise to call him the next morning at nine
o‟clock for fear of waiting for the dreaded call back. True to Alan‟s
pinpoint nature, Amy‟s phone range exactly as her digital clock
flipped over to 9:00. She smiled after she thanked Alan for calling
and again made him promise to call him that night. He liked her from
the start, so he went along with her hook.
I‟ll never forget the first time I sat down with the Noble‟s
after the initial bonfire. It was mid-afternoon and our group had
scattered between facials, biking, trail runs, and bonking the
chambermaid. I found myself alone as Summer ventured out to the
resort‟s spa – it was me and the Noble‟s sharing a snack on the
terrace overlooking the beach.
Let me preface my next remarks by saying that I have enjoyed
cheese most of my life, although it seems to get harder and harder to
digest it as I get older. There were only a few things on the resort‟s
snack menu, so we opted for French fries and chicken fingers. Just as
the waitress was about to walk away, Alan said, “Could you please
put cheese on both of the orders.”
The waitress stared at Alan and said, “So, that‟s Cheese Fries
and Cheese Fingers?” before he Alan could confirm the order, I
interjected in true “Harry Met Sally” fashion, “Could you put the
cheese on the side of the chicken fingers, please?” Melting cheese on
food seemed such a foreign task to me at the time – aside from the
occasional cheeseburger and grilled cheese sandwich, I had never
ventured into melting cheese on any other foods aside from nachos.
Jews have a long history of epic struggles against tyranny and
lactose intolerance. I love most milk products and was pleasantly
surprised when the waitress came back a minute later with our
delicious looking snacks. I saw fireworks when the intense flavor of
the cheddar cheese exploded in my mouth. The salty taste of the
French fries complemented the sharp cheddar in such a way that I
never knew existed. I have mixed a lot of things in my life, including
different cereals and ice creams, but these Cheddar Fries were truly a
treat to savor.
Watching Amy Noble, the neatest person I know, diving into
that gushing pile of food made me realize that everyone has a
“release” side. She was always in control and rarely drank alcohol –
her vice must have been messy food that her pristine mother never let
her eat. Sloppy Joe‟s, melting ice cream sundaes, greasy pizza,
meatball heroes, and watermelon were just a few of Amy‟s favorite
messy foods. Although she still couldn‟t eat any of these foods
around her mother, for fear of “the stare”, she managed to eat her
share away from the watchful eye of Gladys Klein.
With dinner just a few hours away, the three of us decided to
walk off some of that heavy, melted cheese on the beach. Amy and
Alan didn‟t seem to be the beachy type – y‟know sand can be so
intrusive and messy – but they walked barefoot with me along the
shore anyway. I started the conversation knowing full well that I
was the spark in this trio. All of the couples knew the basic
information about each other, but it was time for me to rock the boat
a little bit.
“You guys have brothers and sisters?
Alan jumped in, “Yeah, I have a little sister.”
Amy reluctantly responded, “One brother and one sister.”
It seemed like I was conducting a job interview and I knew the
depth of the responses would be as shallow as a kiddy pool.
“How about you, Brady?” I said sarcastically to myself.
I literally answered my own question, “Well Brady, nice of you to
ask. I have an older brother and a younger sister.”
Alan laughed but Amy seemed to be preoccupied, so I went for
the more interesting mark.
“Everything Ok, Amy?” I asked.
Amy went off, “Yeah, I‟m still pissed off that my sister Gail
decided to be such a bitch at our wedding. She‟ s such a jealous little
„c-word‟. She even made a pass at Alan at our rehearsal dinner.”
“No she didn‟t! Alan responded.
“She nearly had her hand down the front of your pants!” Amy
said in a bothered tone of voice.
“I spilled wine on my lap and she gave me her napkin!” Alan
“How old is your sister?” I cut in the marital bliss to eases the
“She‟s 25 going on 35” Amy shot back.
“I thought my family was bad?” I said
Amy jumped on the opportunity to steer the conversation away
from her, “Why, what happened?”
“Are you guys ready for this? I stopped walking and faced
They both nodded “yes” like two kindergarten kids waiting to
listen to a story.
“It all started when Summer and I got engaged. To say that
my parents were upset when they heard the news would have been an
understatement. My room at their house still had the signature
brown paneling covering the walls – I think they were holding out
hope that I would move back in one day.”
“My room still has blue shag carpeting,” Alan said.
“And you love that carpeting so much that you would have put
it in our apartment” Amy replied.
“My parents would have brought a date for me to my own
wedding” I said being truthful but trying to keep the mood light.
A fascinated look came over Amy‟s face as she asked me “Is it
that they don‟t like Summer?”
I pondered that question for a minute and then replied, “I‟ve
never gone out with a girl that they have liked – unless you consider
that they worshipped them all when they were gone.”
“Ok! So they want you all to themselves!” Amy summed it up.
She then looked at Alan, “Just like your mother!”
Alan turned to me and started to explain, “My mom was a
little hard on Amy when we first met.”
“A little hard? She made me clean the inside of a chicken and
grate six potatoes about five minutes after I met her.”
“Sort of like a Jewish obstacle course” I said trying to lighten
“It was more like a half an hour” Alan said.
Amy shot him a look that said, “One more word and you‟ll be
sleeping on the beach.”
There was one general theme I took away from that first week
with my new friends - everyone had their issues. Life in its simplest
form is an attempt to deal with and avoid potential impediments.
Some families take dysfunction to lofty heights while other break
apart like Oreos mixed in a blender.
Despite our differences we all became fast friends because of
our travel circumstances. Being stranded on Dune Road wasn‟t so
bad after all – it wasn‟t Hawaii, or the Bahamas, but it was a
calming paradise right in our backyard. It‟s been a whole decade since
our honeymoon escapade and we have stayed in touch throughout the
majority of those 10 years. Here‟s a view of what we‟ve been up to in
the last decade.
Perhaps the best place to start would be immediately after we
left the Dune Road Resort. It was hard for everyone to say goodbye
– have you ever been at work and some genius comes up to you and
asks, “So, how was your vacation?” What am I supposed to say in
response? “I missed working every moment and waking up when it‟s
dark!” Of course I had a good time away from the office – there
really isn‟t much pressure associated with drinking a cold beer by the
pool and deciding between surf or turf for dinner.
The only couple that had a house waiting for them was Alan
and Amy Noble. The rest of us lived in various apartments and town
houses, scattered between New York City and Long Island. Planning
was a staple in both the Noble and Klein households and tradition
called for newly married couples to move into a new house once they
returned from the honeymoon. It was family structure in its highest
Summer and I went back to our apartment on 76th and
Columbus and it wasn‟t long before we started missing the roaring
sound of the surf. After another year of wear and tear in the city and
we were ready to spread our wings into the suburbs. I had commuted
from Long Island into the city for a few years when I lived with my
parents after college. When my kids go to college I‟m going to make it
perfectly clear to them that the door only swings one way. You go to
college to learn how to fend for yourself – coming home and sponging
off your parents does more damage than good.
The housing choice came down to cramped, overpriced quarters
on the west end of the island, versus vast, affordable spaces further
out east. I‟m a big guy and I need my space, so we opted for the less
developed area of Long Island. Of course, my commute went from a
leisurely 25 minutes to nearly two hours. The Long Island Rail Road
is what you make of it – I always appreciated the time that I was
able to relax and read, write, or just flat out pass out for an hour.
I‟ll never forget the day we decided to move out of Manhattan.
We were walking out of the Beacon Theatre on 74th and Broadway
after grooving through a Chaka Khan concert. There is always a
decent amount of people walking through the city streets at night, but
some of the side streets can be a little dark and creepy.
We were in the middle of a block adorned with Brownstones
when this guy came out of the area where most people put their
garbage and stood right in front of us. I didn‟t really know what to
expect at that point – would he pull a gun or a knife, or would he
simply just soil himself?
The rather large white man that impeded our path had a dirty
face with a scruffy beard, and he wore a battered Yankees hat. The
homeless man‟s skin was worn by the elements and so were his
If you‟ve ever been in New York City, especially the Upper
West Side, you‟ll know that the sidewalks are fairly narrow. In
comparison to Fifth Avenue, where the sidewalks are as wide as
people‟s dreams, the walkways on the West Side can accommodate
one or two people at a time. Impediments like tree planters, fire
hydrants and the myriad of street signs tend to block the flow of
The man, let‟s call him “Jimmy”, had a scowl on his face the
minute we locked eyes. At first I was nervous about being
confronted, but once the adrenaline kicked in I was ready to rumble
at any time. Summer clutched onto my arm, although I later told her
that she probably could have kicked Jimmy‟s ass if she had to.
Jimmy‟s bloodshot eyes were locked with my eyes for at least
five seconds – it seemed like five minutes at the time, though. Jimmy
then slowly reached into his inside left coat pocket and pulled out an
object that I couldn‟t see right away. Once he moved the object near
his chest, the dim light from the street lamp revealed something that
looked like a switchblade. I thought to myself, “That‟s not good.”
Just as I was deciding whether we should run or I should
knock him out, Jimmy flicked open the switchblade and then used the
comb to reinforce his slicked back hair. He looked at Summer and
said, “Hey, I‟m The Fonz!” as he stuck his right thumb out. He then
put his comb back in his pocket and simply walked away from us.
It took us a few minutes to process everything that happened.
One minute we were going to be accosted by a homeless man and the
next we seemed to be in the presence of Arthur Fonzerlli from the TV
show “Happy Days”. Although I always loved Henry Winkler‟s
portrayal of “The Fonz”, I couldn‟t help but thing that there was an
appropriate time and place for everything.
I turned to Summer and said, “What the hell was that?”
She replied, “I‟m not sure. What planet are we on?”
We started walking toward our apartment, holding hands and
staring straight into the blur of headlights.
“We gotta‟ get out of this jungle” Summer turned and said.
I replied, “Yeah, and “The Fonz” looks a lot different in
Zack Kramer did a lot of traveling in the months following the
honeymoon. The Kramer‟s lived in a small apartment in the town of
Great Neck, Long Island. The commute from Great Neck into
Manhattan was only about 35 minutes, but Zack tended to use the
commuting time to his advantage. Being a salesman enabled him to
make his own hours and work when he had to. This both troubled
Mindy and gave her the freedom to thrive in her job as a prosecuting
attorney with the Nassau County District Attorney‟s Office.
Amy was as tough as a bulldog and everyone in her office
knew it. At 30 years old, she had become the “go-to guy” when a
tough case came through. Zack, on the other hand, was on the road
more than he was in the office. You would have thought for all of his
time on the road that he would always be the top salesman in his
company. His expense accounts were usually quite large and his sales
were mostly near the bottom of the top third.
This balance between expenses and sales caused Zack to
switch jobs every few years. He would show companies his best face
in the first few months and lead in sales production. Just about the
time the corporate honchos loosened their belt and gave Zack a bigger
expense account, he switched into high expense, mediocre production
mode. Lavish dinners with women instead of clients got Zack in hot
water at work and wedged some distance between he and his wife.
Mindy was so driven at work that she had little time to think
of Zack and his traveling show. It wasn‟t long before she was
getting offers from some of the major law firms in the area and, after
resisting the urge to practice private law for six months, she
eventually signed on with the firm of Portman & Barrow for a six-
figure salary plus bonuses. She had become the breadwinner of the
family and Zack wanted nothing to do with it.
It was a few months before Zack even knew that she had
accepted the job. He was home for a change and noticed that she was
wearing a new pinstripe suit. He commented, “Since when are you
dressing like a corporate attorney?” She replied, “Since I became one
two months ago.”
Summer and I went out with Zack and Amy one night about
two years after we met on the honeymoon. I could feel a weird vibe
the minute we met them at the restaurant. It was obvious from the
angry look in both of their eyes that they had been fighting. The smell
of smoke was fresh in the air and we had a duty to become fire
fighters for a night.
I knew the night would be difficult a few days before we even
met. Even agreeing on a place to eat had become a major deal. I
heard “seafood, Italian, Steakhouse, and Thai” before we somehow
settled on Chinese. Maybe the Kramer‟s figured their arguments
would not be understood as well by people that primarily spoke
another language? On the other hand, the universal language of
anger is a lot easier to understand than the universal language of love.
During that night at Dragon Palace, it was easy to see
between the Pork Fried Rice, Egg Rolls, and Wonton Soup that all
was not copasetic in the Kramer household. Mindy talked about
buying a house and Zack appeared to be completely emasculated by
the whole process. He was not a modern man capable of letting his
wife “bring home the majority of the bacon”.
We tried to calm the fire between the Kramer‟s but were about
as unsuccessful as feeling full an hour after a Chinese meal. Mindy
started house shopping shortly after our night out and it wasn‟t long
before she found one that she liked. The house was in Merrick, New
York, which was the adjacent better-looking cousin to Bellmore.
Zack said that he wanted to live in Bellmore but Mindy had an itch
to climb a little. “What‟s the matter, Bellmore‟s not good enough for
you anymore? Zack asked Mindy. She replied, “Would you stop
feeling sorry for yourself! We‟re moving to Merrick whether you like
it or not!”
Zack didn‟t like it… he even waited to the last second to move
into the new house. She hired a mover and lived in the new house
while Zack stayed in their townhouse an extra week until the end of
the month. He then traveled for another week before finally entering
the new house. Mindy barely noticed that he wasn‟t there – their
marriage had hit the skids.
The tug of war never seemed to fade for Kathy and Wayne
Aaronson. After they were married the pressure to move down south
and the opposing pull to live in Huntington, Long Island, was strong.
Neither side would loosen its grip nor both families had dug
themselves a firm spot in the sand.
They came out to visit us in the new house one weekend and
were amazed at both the size of our house and the acre of land that
surrounded it. The neighborhood was growing and the new schools
were being built to accommodate the population explosion. Setauket,
New York was a laid back, seaside town in Suffolk County. In
addition to having a college in the area, the University of
Stoneybrook, the area was home to the diverse Three Village system.
Stoneybrook, Setauket, and Hauppauge had pooled resources to offer
upgraded amenities to its residents.
Summer and I loved living in Setauket and were glad to show
Karen and Wayne around. They were so impressed with the area that
they wound up putting a deposit on a new house in our Village
Shores subdivision. It appeared that the thought of the Aaronson‟s
living anywhere near family made both of their stomach‟s churn into a
cyclone. They didn‟t want to live alone so they barely hesitated when
they came to see us – we had always supported Wayne and Kathy
and our relationship always was strong. They moved into a house
four doors down from us six months later and we were rarely ever
apart after that.
There were many times during the last 10 years that the guys
came to me with life questions. When I looked into the mirror I
didn‟t see a conventional wise man with a long, gray beard – what I
did see was a person who was willing to listen and try to help his
friends in need.
Summer was also called upon by Mindy, Amy, and Kathy to
sort out many marital traffic jams. Life in suburbia can be really
tough, especially when the boredom of your mundane existence takes
over. Most people won‟t admit when they are in over their heads
either financially or socially. We were all sold the tale of buying the
house with the white picket fence, spitting out a couple of kids, and
living happily ever after.
I never really had the slightest idea what “cheating” was all
about. All right, let me clear the air a minute – yes, I have
transgressed and peaked at a neighbors paper during a test, and I
have been known to bring in the tightly written cheat sheet that I slid
under my test paper – but cheating on a woman was a somewhat new
topic for me. I once overlapped two girls in college – one was on the
way in and the other was on the way out – but the feeling of nausea
seeing them walking together one morning was too much for me to
Being sneaky and dishonest either will take its toll on a couple,
or they will grow so far apart that living in the same house is merely
an exercise in logistics. I loved talking to Zack Kramer not because
he told juicy stories, but because I knew there had to be a caring
human being underneath all of that adultery. He seemed more
concerned with running away than staying put and dealing with his
life, but I knew there had to be more than what was being seen or
Zack always wanted to meet me at a bar to talk but I would
always push him off that idea and toward quieter locations. I felt
that nothing would ever be gained if he and I went to a bar – smoke,
alcohol, women – these were the things that got him into trouble in
the first place. Zack knew what he was doing when he guided me to
the Bellmore Bowl. Bowling alleys seem innocent at first glance, but
under further investigation it becomes apparent that a bowling alley
is a bar with balls, pins, and blowing hand air. Come to think of it,
bars also have plenty of balls hanging around pins of all lengths and
There was definitely a technique to picking up women in a
bowling alley. I‟m sure that I would have figured it out after a few
weeks of foot fungus and burnt hamburgers, but Zack gave me the
two-hour crash course. The man is a walking infomercial; there is no
I met Zack outside the Bellmore Bowl, just off beautiful
Bellmore Avenue. If you‟ve never been down Bellmore Avenue it‟s
about as forgettable as your locker combination. For all of you out
there that right your locker combination on a piece of paper, it really
defeats the purpose of keeping it private when other people can get to
it. Bellmore Avenue is lined with low-rise stores as far as the
stigmatism can see – the transition from predominantly mom and pop
stores to retail chain stores is also in full swing.
Zack could have met me inside but he looked like he wanted to
be spotted while meeting me in front of the alley. With so many
yentas in Bellmore, they would be more than happy to talk about the
suspicious meetings of Zack Kramer. He stayed away from Bellmore
women, preferring to prey on the innocence and loneliness of women
in other towns and states. Although he suspected that Mindy knew
what he was up to – hell, half of the free-speaking world knew what
he was up to – he wasn‟t going to flaunt it in her face. The road was
his world and he was comfortable with leading a separate life away
from Long Island.
We walked toward the front desk and a large man with a
moustache, who looked like a walrus with legs, started walking
toward us. Just as he was getting ready to talk a woman cut him off
and said, “I got this one, Doug.”
“Can I help you gentlemen?” the shapely forty-something
woman said as she picked up the shoe spray in her right hand. I
muttered under my breath, “There goes the ozone layer.” Zack
chuckled as he said in his best sales voice, “We‟ll have two of your
finest lanes and a couple of pairs of shoes.” She smiled and leaned
over the counter exposing her overmatched bra. She looked Zack over
and said, “You look like a size 10 ½.” Zack shot back, “Eleven.”
“Well, you must be packing a little extra down there” she said as she
looked at his crotch. She threw a size 13 pair of shoes on the counter
and barely acknowledged my existence. She got my size right without
looking at me with those prying eyes – her accent smelled of “off the
beaten path” with a slight Southern, white trash drawl.
Zack was shameless when it came to flirting. I remember he
asked one of the waitresses on the honeymoon, “What‟s your cup
size?” When she shyly giggled he said, “I bet you I could guess by
putting my hand around your right breast. I won‟t even touch you –
I‟ll give you a 40% tip if I‟m wrong.” She came back with his drink
and leaned over, offering her right breast for further evaluation.
This action came on a night when the women and the men split
up to eat separate meals. Zack smiled at us as he rubbed his hands
together and cupped his left hand around her ample right breast. I
took a big gulp of my beer as Zack finished air-caressing – he looked
up at her and wagged his right index finger, telling her he wanted to
whisper his findings in her ear. He whispered and she blushed and
clumsily walked away from the table.
Wayne looked at Zack and said, “What do you say?” Zack
got up from his chair and replied, “I‟ll tell you when I come back from
the bathroom.” I looked at Alan Noble and said, “I didn‟t even try
that crap when I was single!” Alan replied, “If I tried that now,
Amy would cut my balls off.” We all grimaced as Wayne added,
“Kathy‟s pretty handy with an axe. She chopped some wood once
when we went skiing upstate.”
Zack came back from the bathroom about ten minutes later.
He was buttoning a few of the middle buttons on his shirt as he
walked back to our table. “What the hell did you say to that girl?
Wayne asked Zack. “It wasn‟t so much what I said to her as what I
did to her” Zack said with a sly smile. “Yeah, but I have to know
what you said to her to get her in the bathroom?” Wayne pressed on.
Just then the smiling waitress returned to the table with a
round of drinks and a few appetizers. “This round‟s on me boys” she
said. As she walked away I could see part of her black skirt was
tucked into her black stockings. We all looked over at Zack and he
said, “34C. Meet me in the bathroom.”
The action at the bowling alley seemed to be pretty tame and
lame until Zack pushed the button in the image of a waitress. I
expected this manly woman to come from behind the counter sporting
a moustache and a perm. Instead, a woman in a miniskirt came out
from inside of the bar/lounge. Just about every older bowling alley
has one of these dimly lit rooms next to the snack bar. Why you need
a lounge in a place where you play a sport is beyond me. It‟s not as if
lounges are prevalent around other sporting events – baseball and
football fields and basketball and tennis courts have all survived
these years without locating a bar nearby. There must be something
about bowling that elicits its participants to drink alcohol and eat
really bad food.
A low-cut shirt-wearing waitress with the nametag “Connie”
strolled over to our lane. She pulled a pencil out of her ample bleach-
blonde hair and said, “Can I get you anything, gentlemen?” Connie
had this horse voice like she screamed at her eight kids and smoked
cigarettes until her lungs collapsed at the end of the day.
I looked at Zack fully knowing that he intended to start the
conversation. What the hell was I going to say anyway? “Yeah, hi
Connie. Can you please get me a Coke and a burger?” Zack always
knew his audience and never failed to elicit the appropriate response.
He looks the waitress over and says, “So Connie. Does it taste as
good as it looks?” I was just about to say, “Dude, what the hell are
you talking about?” but Connie beat me to the punch, “Oh honey, this
here will keep you coming back for seconds.”
I sat there thinking that my spaceship must have left me off in
the wrong galaxy. Do people really talk like this in the real world,
because I have seen a few movies and cheesy television programs
where people converse this way. She brushed against Zack and left
without taking our order.
We started to bowl and I asked myself an important question:
“Why am I using a ball and shoes that everyone and their smelly
cousin have used?” It‟s pretty disgusting when you think about it –
the sharing of equipment, especially more personal equipment is
usually saved only for school districts and their tight budgets. Adults
that are serious about bowling get their own shoes and ball – the rest
of us are resigned to swim in a sea of fungal discontent.
Enough of my germ warfare… Connie came back a few
minutes later with a few beers and a plate of nachos. Once again,
Zack had gotten us free food and drinks on the house. I think Connie
was hoping that Zack would be on her at some point that evening; he
obliged between the first and second games. He had obviously spent a
great deal of time in the bowling alley because he easily beat me 187
to 143. I then got to play a game by myself while Zack was playing
with Connie in the office behind the lounge. I rolled a satisfying 168
while Zack rolled Connie to and from her back.
Come to think of it, I can‟t remember a time when Zack didn‟t
sleep with someone every time we went out. The guy was a master at
having sex in public places – I never understood this because I need
room to take care of my business. I‟m not claustrophobic but tight
spaces really don‟t mesh well with my large frame. Zack must have
been some kind of contortionist having relations with a bunch of
gymnasts because they all seemed satisfied. It was obviously a
rocking 15 minutes for Connie because she brought us hamburger
platters a few minutes after Zack returned to the lane.
We sat there eating and I asked Zack, “How do you do it?”
He looked at me with confident eyes and replied, “It‟s like taking
matzah from a Egyptian.” What the hell was he talking about?
Maybe Pharaoh‟s like Matzah? It‟s possible that their intestines are
flowing a bit too freely and they need to put an immediate cork in the
system. That‟s what eating cardboard is all about!
I knew Zack was trying to avoid my real question so I kept
trying to reach him. “No, how can you do it to Mindy? And don‟t
give me details of your sex life. Just talk to me about your
relationship.” The shape of his face changed like he had been
morphed into another person. Although it was disturbing to see the
anguish in Zack‟s face, it was nonetheless refreshing to see him step
off the stage for a change.
“We barely talk” he said with his head lowered. “We live in
the same house but we lead completely separate lives.” I asked for it
and once I heard the words it was hard for me to respond. Zack took
a sip of beer and then continued, “She does make a lot of money,
though.” My eyebrows literally raised and I nodded, “There is that.”
As a practical, unlicensed therapist, I have come across a lot of
people with issues that seem to be way beyond their control. There are
times when people are not ready to deal with the problems that
confront them; at that point, trying to talk it out is basically
pointless. I wasn‟t sure at the time what Zack‟s deal was, but I was
his friend and his lack of internal fortitude was not going to deter me.
One early summer afternoon I decided to meet Alan Noble for a
little golf and relaxation. Now, I have to paint a picture of Alan
Noble so you can better understand his tight mind. Alan‟s about as
relaxed as a guard dog – he tends to plan just about everything, and
the things that he doesn‟t plan, his wife Amy makes sure he stays on
Three to four hours of golf for Alan is like 7 years to a dog. Or
is that one year to a dog is like a day of golf for Alan? The point is
that leisure time to Alan Noble is balancing his checkbook or cleaning
his garage. Leisure time to me is smacking a small white ball around
and then getting back in a golf cart and driving around like a maniac.
It always takes Alan at least five or six holes just to be present
with me on the same golf course. We both worked in Manhattan and
usually got a half day at least once a month on Friday‟s. However,
the mad dash home seemed to impact Alan a lot more than it did me.
I used my train time to slow down my roll and get into full weekend
mode. This meant leaving behind all of the crap and anxiety of the
The cell phone Alan had attached to his belt made sure that he
could take his work everywhere. When I left my office the work
stayed on my desk and nobody usually bugged me when I was gone.
Except for vacations, when something inevitably popped up,
afternoon golf was usually an uninterrupted activity.
Holes seven through nine were usually consumed by small talk
about business. I‟m not usually a big talker about my work life but it
seemed to be the only way to establish an initial connection with
Alan. By the time we reached the back nine I could usually get a few
curse words out of him and I eventually hit the mother load as we hit
the snack bar at the 13th hole.
“I loved that resort we stayed at on our honeymoon,” I said
trying to get him to smile.
“I got something to tell you once we get back to the cart,” he
replied as he ducked into the bathroom.
Since he got me a hot dog and a drink on the front nine, I
reciprocated and bought him the same this time around. I‟m sure he
was disappointed at the lack of melted cheese at the stand, but he
settled for a mustard packet instead. He settled into the passenger
side of the golf cart and took a big bite out of his hot dog. We were
waiting for the group in front of us to finish putting on the par three
green, so we had a few minutes to shoot the breeze.
“So what‟s the big news,” I said trying to jump-start the
“Well, it‟s sort of related to the honeymoon” he replied.
I was waiting to hear another “Did you know that Zack slept
with” story, but I was pleasantly surprised to have the coin flipped
on me for a change.
“I never told any of you that Mindy and I went on a few dates
when we were in our early twenties,” Alan stated.
He continued as I stuffed my face with my hot dog, “She was a
real spark plug back then.” I continued to wait for the impact of
boredom to set in as I gulped down a little orange Gatorade. “I slept
with her twice before we stopped seeing each other.”
I nearly chocked on the last section of my hot dog as it cleared
the pipe down my throat. “Did you say that you slept with Mindy
Kramer? I questioned him.
“No I didn‟t sleep with Mindy Kramer. I slept with Mindy
Orenstein.” He sarcastically corrected me.
“You sly son-of-a-bitch! You look all conservative with those
small wire-framed glasses, when there is a boiling volcano simmering
just under the surface there” I said as I pointed to his chest. “How
did you withhold information like that?”
“She and I never really talked about it after that. Even when
we saw each other on the honeymoon, it was like two old friends
meeting again” Alan explained.
The two guys finished putting on the green and we got up from
the cart and prepared to hit our balls in the water that surrounded the
green. Alan, feeling like an elephant swinging its gigantic balls,
stepped up to the tee and whacked his ball on the edge of the green. I
was thinking about anything but golf by that point and sliced the
ball in the middle of the lake. I then put another ball down and hit it
in almost the same spot.
I shook my head and turned back to Alan, “Does Amy know?”
I hit the next ball in the sand in the back of the green and then
picked up my tee and strolled back to the cart. “What do you think?”
Alan asked me. “It probably wouldn‟t be received so well.” I said as
I drove the cart toward our balls.
Telling Amy Noble about something of this magnitude would
be like lighting a torch in the middle of a fireworks factory. What
would Alan gain by telling Amy that he slept with a friend of theirs
years ago before they even met. It would take years of damage control
for Alan to get himself out of the doghouse and back into his cage
inside the house.
I must admit that I never saw that coming. How would you
ever think of pairing Mindy Kramer and Alan Noble together? She
was a dynamic little ball of fire and he was a conservative, rule-
keeping adult. In fable terms, he was the tortoise and she was the
hare. Alan also told me that he decided not to see her anymore and
that she was very upset with his decision. Maybe I had misjudged
Alan Noble after seeing him guided around by his wife. Or maybe,
just maybe, I had overestimated Mindy Kramer. After all, she put up
with all of Zack‟s shit and barely batted an eye as he continued to
Summer and I share just about everything. I didn‟t even have
to promise Alan that I wouldn‟t blab about him; at least not beyond
the confines of my house. He knew I would tell Summer and we
would chew on the details of this torrid affair for some time to come.
I walked through the garage that night and Summer greeted me in the
kitchen. We kissed and hugged for a few minutes and then I said,
“That was an interesting round of golf.”
“How‟s Alan doing? Was he able to relax this time? Summer
asked me. I looked at her, nodded my head yes, and started to smile,
“Oh yeah, he really let loose about the 13th hole. You better sit down
for this one.” She sat down at the kitchen table and I stood across
from her on the other side of the table. “Alan dated Mindy Kramer
before he met Amy.”
“Sorry to burst your bubble big guy, but I already knew that,”
“Who told you”? I asked.
“Mindy told me one afternoon on the honeymoon.” Summer
I continued, “Did you know that they slept together a few
Summer‟s eyes opened wide and she exploded in laughter, “No
way! She didn‟t tell me that!”
“And this is the best part – he broke up with her!” I exclaimed.
Summer nearly fell to the floor when I broke that news to her.
As much time as we had spent with our honeymoon friends, there was
still much to learn about all of them. It had only been a few years
since we met and seemingly the best was yet to come.
Wayne Aaronson is one of the nicest people I have ever met in
my life. His family was into dry cleaning and he had taken the
business to the next level. Wayne‟s dad occasionally bought a
rundown house, fixed it up, and then sold the property for a decent
I spent a lot of time with Wayne outside in our gardens when
the weather was nice and inside doing projects when the white stuff
blanketed the landscape. Since I had come from a family that was
about as handy as a pet rock, the ability to do things with my hands
was incredibly satisfying. Before I met Wayne, the only thing I did
with my hands was break things. My hands did have a certain skill
for pleasing women and I also have decent penmanship, but I would
not have considered myself handy.
People that aren‟t handy are just lazy – there‟s no two ways
about that. It takes effort to get things done and most people would
rather sit on a couch and eat potato chips than paint a room or cut
the grass. I would rather sit on the couch and do nothing but the pull
is too strong to get things done. It‟s not a burden – it should be a
labor of love or the final result will be impacted.
I spent my life working hard but I wasn‟t focused. Meeting
and hanging out with Wayne gave me a completely new outlook on
things. While I always cut my own grass and planted every flower
and shrub in my garden, the inside of my house was often neglected.
It was a case of use something until you beat it into the ground;
upkeep was never one of my strong suits.
Summer and I went over to Wayne and Kathy‟s house for a
barbeque one Sunday afternoon. Kathy‟s Aunt Shirley and Uncle
Bruce were also invited because they were in for the weekend visiting
his parents. Shirley was a 50 year-old mother of two that dressed like
she was 16. Both of her kids were in college and she must have been
having the female version of a mid-life crisis.
Going over Kathy and Wayne‟s house was always so
comfortable for me until that day. That woman didn‟t leave me alone
from the time she stepped into the house until I abruptly excused
myself before desert. Shirley would have been better off spending the
day with gal-pal Laverne than prodding me like I was a melon at the
Kathy introduced me to Aunt Shirley, who was wearing a pair
of really short tennis skirt and a shirt with a center cutout that was
obviously a few sizes too small. Her milk-producing breasts were on
display and I was trying to avoid the gaze for fear of losing my
appetite. She was on me like flypaper and I was feeling cheap and
She made about 40 comments about how big and strong I was
– that would have been all right by itself, but the accompanying
touching and messaging was a serious invasion of space. She rubbed
her breasts against my back as I was sitting in a chair, then she stood
in front of me and leaned against me. I was waiting for her to hump
my leg but the Aaronson‟s Jack Russell Terrier, Brandy, beat her to it.
I kept asking Summer to help me but she found the whole
thing rather amusing. I didn‟t want to say anything to Kathy and
Wayne at the time because they were entertaining these people. After
dinner I made up some lame excuse about not feeling well and Aunt