On December 12, 1988, I was in my early twenties and had been working at Backer Spielvogel Bates, one of New York’s biggest advertising agencies, for a few months. That was the tail end of the industry’s boom era: bottomless expense accounts, margarita lunches, lavish events, perks galore. The agency went all out for the annual holiday party that year, renting out an entire Manhattan nightclub for an evening of open bar and dancing.
My friend Jennie and I had recently read a magazine article about how to be a “Do” and a “Don’t” at the office Christmas party, and that night, we fell squarely into the “Don’t” category. We arrived early, stayed till the end, drank cocktails without alternating a glass of seltzer between each one, danced, gossiped, and dressed provocatively (On me: big earrings, big hair, dramatic makeup, heels, a black spandex mini skirt, and some kind of bizarre majorette-meets-Madonna off-the-shoulder red top–it was the ‘80s, after all).
Had I been an Office Party Do, I’m sure I never would have met my future husband. Mark worked, at the time, in the Media department, while I was in the Account Management Department. The company was huge, having recently gone through a merger and a consolidating move to new offices in the Chrysler Building, which explains why we had never lain eyes on each other until that night.
Mark arrived late at the party, being an integral (MVP) member of the company’s volleyball team, which had just played a match. He found himself being lectured by his female boss (and good pal) about the fact that he was only interested in dating around, and never got himself into a long term relationship (not, mind you, that he thought that was a problem). She said, “It’s because you always go after the wrong kind of women. Women like...” (Looking around the room, she zeroed in on a slutty-looking Madonna Majorette and pointed.) “...HER.”
Mark took one look and made a beeline over to me. When he introduced himself to me with a “Hi, I’m Mark,” I was in the midst of posing for someone’s camera with my fellow Don’t friends. “Want to get into a picture?” I asked, and we posed together for a snapshot, capturing our seconds-old relationship forever on film–never imagining what lay ahead. Then he took the camera and turned it toward us both for one of his famous “chin shots” (of which there would be many more to come over the next two decades). (See above: a page from our oldest photo album, with the photos so decrepit I couldn’t get them off the page to copy them individually!)
Later that night, I learned that he was my boss’s roommate, and he discovered I wasn’t actually a Slut–just an Office Party Don’t. And a Klutz. I accidentally knocked an entire beer into his lap, soaking his suit, and he actually laughed it off. We danced to “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” (the Dirty Dancing soundtrack was still hot that year.) At the end of the evening, we flagged a cab and went our separate ways, but he had my phone number in his pocket. He called the next morning and the rest, as they say, is history.
Happy Anniversary, Mark. These two decades have brought far more sunshine than shadow. I can't wait to see what lies ahead. "Point me toward tomorrow."
As for the rest of you...how did you meet your significant other? Everyone loves a love story...tell us yours!
P.S. Anyone out there who's read my Wendy Markham chick lit novel SLIGHTLY SETTLED might recognize some of the above details. That novel was born over lunch with my editor one day, as I was telling her the real saga of how I’d met my husband–and she asked me to springboard it into a plot that was, in the end, far more fiction than fact.
(Yes, this is a repost of a blog I originally shared back in 2009 and again in 2011. Thought it was worth reprinting!)