The events that led up to our wedding were anything but business-as-usual. Most brides hire a wedding planner and drag their entire entourage over to Kleinfelds’ of Brooklyn for the big pouf-y dresses that cost as much as a Mercedes-Benz. Not me. Not us.
Mark and I decided to get married in a bit of a rush. The entire affair revolved around two events. One was that his parents were heading back to Florida for the winter.
What that meant for me was this: get married before the snowbirds fly away or we may have to part. When I put this to Mark we were in New Corners restaurant in Dyker Heights Brooklyn. A traditional family restaurant with pink tablecloths, wood paneling, little candles in cups on the tables and delicious home-cooked food.
As I sat there eating my mozzarella and carozza the tears started to roll down my face and soon I was sobbing uncontrollably. I could not hold myself back anymore.
“What’s wrong?” Mark asked, “don’t you like your food? We can send it back.”
He knew that couldn’t be it the food because when I bit into my mozzarella and carrozza, I said, “yum,” like I usually do when something is delicious.
No, he knew it wasn’t the food, but he wanted to avert a possible disaster by trying to make light of the situation.
This tactic was not going to work. Not this time
“No, it’s not the food,” I blubbered. I was shaking because I had to throw down the” time to get married” gauntlet. A risky business, yes, however, I had been advised to do so or end up in a “Waiting for Godot” situation.
The waiter came over with a look of concern. “Is everything all right miss?” he asked.
“It’s fine, everything is just fine.” I said as I waved my hand at him dismissively, and gave him a weak smile, my nose red, my face puffy.
I wanted him to leave us alone.
Mark and I had been engaged long enough.
My thoughts went something like this:
Neither of us was getting any younger, we loved each other, we had been living together since we met 2 years before on Fire Island, we’d been on vacations together, put up with his ex-girlfriend living upstairs and taping the Sunday New York Times Real Estate section to our front door every week, really, what is there to think about?
Get married or get gone. It was now or never for me. Though I really wanted only to get married, not break-up, which is why I was sobbing so hard. I was scared sh*t.
Mark needed a push. His personality is such that if one waits till he makes a move, it might be a long wait. He deliberates. He got me the ring because his mother nagged him until he took action. Yes, he wanted to be with me forever he just didn’t want to have to do anything about it.
And so after a lot of crying and shaking in fear, I say to Mark, “it’s time for us to get married we are going to do it before your parents go back to Florida or we end right here. “
I burst into tears as I say this.
Mark looks stunned and then he says to me, “You want to marry me? Are you sure you want to do that?”
“Yes, of course? Why wouldn’t I want to marry you?” I asked.
I knew Mark was the man for me when he first curled up next to me in Fire Island two summers earlier without being invited. This was confirmed for sure when I walked into his yellow and lilac bathroom in his Park Slope apartment and saw enough neatly stacked toilet paper to take us through the winter. I fell in love with him right then and there.
And there were a few other things, like how easy he is on the eyes, how generous he is. Yes, Mark is a bit of a street tough yet underneath lurks a real softie. Besides, Mark wasn’t an ordinary tough guy he also ran a public school in East New York right near where he grew up in Brownsville, Brooklyn. He helped people. He changed lives.
He says to me, “I am not very good at relationships, “ and I respond to him by saying, “Know anybody who is?”
Mark got all uncomfortable and quiet so I did too. I just sat there not crying anymore, silently eating my main course, drinking my wine, sipping the water. Every once in a while we would look at each other and then back to the food. We could talk about the food.
“How is your shrimp scampi?” Mark asks me.
“Delicious, “ I say back, disinterested in this line of conversation but not going to say another word on the subject of getting married until he makes a move.
Enjoy the meal I’m thinking, why ruin a delicious dinner?
“He heard you, now leave it alone,“ I say to myself, you opened this can of worms, now stay quiet, let him figure this out.
The question is what will he do?
The waiter comes back to clear away the main course. He can see I am okay now. We nod. He hands us the dessert menu and I order.
“I’ll have a decaf espresso with a Sambuca and a cannoli.”
Mark takes a decaf espresso with a Sambuca even though he is not much of a drinker.
He seems a bit agitated.
Sure he was.
The ball was in his court.
Mark paid the check and we got into his car without a word. As we drive across Brooklyn he has a look of consternation. When we arrive in Brooklyn Heights Mark circles around looking for a parking space. He finds one on Joralemon Street a few blocks from the Brooklyn promenade.
As we get out of the car Mark is walking faster and faster and pulling me along until we are just above Barge Music and River Café with it’s twinkling lights in the garden.
From where we are standing you can see the NY City Skyline with the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center just in front of us and then uptown toward the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings. It’s a spot we go to often to skate or cycle.
Mark and I stand there for a moment just taking in the view, breathing in the night air and then he kisses me, comes around toward my back and wraps his arms around me so we are both facing the city skyline.
“So you want us to get married do you? Really? ”
He whispers in my ear.
“Yes I do and we have to do it before your parents go back to Florida.” I say back to him just as quietly.
“ You realize that is ten days from today.” He comes around and looks me in the eye as if to say, “You sure you know what you are doing?”
“ Yep, I do know time is short, so let’s do something very simple. Family only in a rabbi’s study and dinner in a restaurant right in Park Slope.”
Right then and there he says to me, “Okay then, will you marry me?”
“YES” I say, and then throw my arms around him. Then I add with a laugh, I thought you would never ask.” We both laugh just then and I cry again this time from happiness. We are getting married.
A few days later we meet with Rabbi Weiss at Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, Brooklyn. It is a One hundred and fifty year old congregation that had members like Governor Lehman as part of their flock
As it turned out the only date available for the rabbi to marry us was Monday October 27, 1986 one day before my future in-laws would fly back to Florida for the winter.
Which brings me t the other event I mentioned.
The World Series: Our wedding date was set for the day after the seventh game of the World Series.
In the summer of 1986 Mark proudly wore his Mets cap everywhere from Fire Island to Park Slope. It seemed certain that the Mets would make it into the World Series. At least he hoped they would.
As a Yankees fan I was somewhat less interested in the Mets than Mark, he would often say, “I am a New York fan so whichever team gets into the World Series, I am rooting for them.”
Mark followed the Mets all season because for the first time since 1969 the Mets looked like a winning team. The playoff series was grueling and as the excitement started to build and the city was catching World Series fever, we both lost many hours of sleep cheering them on as they edged ever closer to being contenders.
The tension began to mount as the day of our impending wedding drew near. Mark wasn’t very interested in helping me plan our impending wedding his entire focus was on the World Series.
I realize I have competition.
Game six. October 25, 1986. Mark is at the game with his friend Neil who happens to be a neighbor of then Mets manager Davey Johnson in Longwood, Florida. Neil has come up for the series and he has great seats from Davey J.
Mark, my groom and Neil are sitting behind home plate with the Mets’ wives on one side the Red Sox wives on the other. I am home watching the game on television and making lists for last minute details for the wedding.
The Mets win in a stunning victory over the Boston Red Sox.
When Mark comes home he is delirious, “It was so exciting,
Mookie’s * wife was right there next to me. She couldn’t even watch, she just put her head down and prayed and then when he hit that line drive to the limping Bill Buchner, she started screaming and crying, right there next to ME.”
It was exciting! How could my little wedding plans compete with that? I was glad the whole thing would be decided the next night and we could concentrate on pulling our wedding together.
Sunday October 26, 1986. Game seven. Rain. More Rain. Drizzle. Mizzle. Fog. Mist. Downpours. No game was going to be played today and would be postponed until tomorrow. My groom was miserable.
“Well he says, I suppose I should be glad I got to see game six, “ he rationalizes. “ With the rain delay they could lose their momentum. What if they lost?” His tone was one of resignation and misery.
What was I going to do? We got into the car to go have brunch on the Lower East Side and as we drove along in the mist and fog he was wearing his Mets cap and an unhappy look on his face.
He continued, “ I’ll give my ticket away and be glad that I saw the best game of the series.” The air in the car was as thick and soupy as the air outside.
Gloom. Doom. Then, an idea, it seemed crazy as I worked it out in my head. I just spilled it out.
“Most people run out of their wedding to get on a plane for a honeymoon, don’t they?” I asked.
“Yes, and…” my grumpy groom says to me.
“We are not going on a honeymoon right now are we?” I could see he wasn’t following me.
“No, so what’s your point?” He’s a bit testy. I press on.
“ What if we run out of our wedding after the dinner to go to Shea Stadium and see the rest of the game?”
“ Nice try Nancy but I only have one ticket. That is not going to work.” He says to me, shaking his head.
“Wait a minute,” I say to him “ What about this? You know how they let people into Broadway plays without at ticket at intermission?” Now I think, hey this might work.
“Yeah so? This is baseball, not Broadway.” He sounds a bit annoyed at the whole idea.
“ True, not Broadway. What if we could get in after the fifth inning? What if it’s possible? We won’t know until we go do it will we?”
He turns and looks at me with some interest.
“ Hey come on. Let’s do this. The dinner after the wedding should be over around the fifth or sixth inning, we could say our goodbyes, drop people at trains and drive like crazy to Shea. What do you think?”
Mark liked the idea, but then, “What if they don’t let you in? What will you do?” I thought it over. I was used to traveling with a bag packed with comfortable clothes. We were accustomed to spur-of the-moment adventures.
“I’ll take that chance. If necessary I’ll change in the car, listen to the game and wait for you.”
For the first time since the rainout was officially called we both started to smile. We had hatched a plan. We could make it work.
Monday October 27, 1986. Nerves. Drizzle. Fog. Nerves. Fog. We have some running around to do including going to city hall to get our marriage license. We get into a quarrel over flowers, then champagne, cookies.
We pull it together. He picks up his mother and father, the nieces and nephews arrive, I pick up my mother at the train, put on my white evening suit and matching heels, we are ready.
It was time.
There we stood in the rabbi’s study a room larger than most synagogue sanctuaries. Smile, pictures, smiles cookies and champagne and we finally say, “I do.”
Mark stamps on the traditional wine glass and everyone shouts, “Mazeltov”.
I let out a sigh of relief, “I wasn’t so sure we were going to make it.”
Mark smiles at me.
We load into cars and drive the few blocks to “Raintrees” on Prospect Park. It’s a Monday and not very busy. The table is set for our small party, right next to the French windows that wrap around the restaurant for a view of the park.
Dinner. The service was smooth and unhurried. Then, suddenly out of nowhere an out of control car narrowly misses us as it zooms up onto the sidewalk and everyone in the family scatters. We check in with everyone, “Phew, You okay?” then we all sit back down and count our blessings.
The score was 3-0 Bosox. Mark and I agreed that if the Sox were ahead by a big lead we wouldn’t bother with the game.
By this time I was so excited by our plan, I said a silent prayer, “Let’s go Mets! Lets go Mets!”
Dessert. Coffee. I check in with the bartender who has a tiny television behind the bar: top of the sixth, still 3-zip. Then suddenly there is a change. The first baseman, Keith Hernandez hits a two run single in the sixth inning, the Mets are on the scoreboard and we are going to the game.
Check paid. Kisses. Hugs. Everyone piles into cars. We take my mom to the train at Penn Station which eats up a lot of our time going into the city,but neither of us wants to drop her at the Atlantic Avenue station. We give her a kiss and hug and zoom away heading for the Midtown Tunnel to the Long Island Expressway, “oh please don’t let there be traffic,” I am thinking out loud. We sail on through so far, everything is working like clockwork.
Disaster strikes. We get lost! How could this be? We’ve been past Shea a million times the stress of getting there causes us to get confused at a critical moment.
“Where the hell are you going I holler at Mark?” Not exactly helpful words, but I am anxious now we are so close.
Bottom of the seventh, things are heating up on the radio and the Mets shoot into the lead. We’re arguing now.
“What are you doing, hurry up, turn around, go the other way!” I am just spouting out directions, so attached am I to getting there now.
Finally into the parking lot. There are no spots. We park at the exit ramp near the Grand Central Parkway just as Ray Knight hits a home run off BoSox reliever Schiraldi.
We jump out of the car, me in my off white wool crepe suit and ivory high heel pumps, Mark in his suit adorned with a floral spring.
Cops stop us. “You can’t park there.”
We are desperate to get there.
“We just got married.” Mark is waving his single ticket in the air.
Luckily, the cops smile and wave us on.
“All right, your car will be okay there.”
We start to run as the roar of the crowd pulls us forward, the mud from the rains that came the day before splattering onto my suit, my shoes. I didn’t care. We could still make it.
Mark becomes annoyed because I didn’t change into my running shoes, “Why the hell didn’t you put on your sneakers, “ he hisses at me. “You’re slowing us down.”
How could I explain that I didn’t like the way sneakers looked with my winter white wool crepe suit? I knew we would have a better chance of both getting into Shea if I at least looked like a bride.
The crowd is screaming, we could feel the electricity blowing out of the top of Shea Stadium.
There is a thunderous roar as we get to the gate.
Just then Darryl Strawberry hits a home run and we show our single ticket.
“Where are you two going?” the guard at the gate wants to know.
Mark waves his single ticket and show him my suit, the flowers, my now muddy bridal shoes.
Mark says, “We just got married.”
With that, hey don’t just let us in; they escort us in.
It’s working, it’s working we are inside and being shown to our seats.
Bottom of the eighth, we arrive to see Keith Hernandez in his last at bat. The seats we have are the best in the house, right behind home plate where celebrities, friends and family sit. We are so close we can almost touch the catcher, Gary Carter.
The sides retire. the Mets closer Jessie Oroszco is on the mound to finish off the Red Sox.
“Where have you two been? Mark has the best seats ever our box is right directly behind home plate and we are sitting with the Mets wives and Billy Joel and (then wife), Christie Brinkley.
“Pinch me, “ I whisper to Mark who answers for us,
“We just got married and ran here as fast as we could.”
And then on October 27, 1986 ou wedding day, The New York Mets become World Champions for only the second time in baseball history.
Good luck tonight guys!