july 20 1985

This post is for Amy, as promised.

In a Joy of Sox gamethread way back when, Amy asked how Allan and I met. I gave the short version - "on the street in New York City" - and said the long version was too long for comments. Amy asked if I would write it, and I promised I would.

Herewith, the detailed version of How We Met.

* * * *

It was the summer of 1985. I was 24 years old, and I was miserable.

In the winter and spring, I had been seeing two men... until they both dumped me at the same time.

I hated my job. It was supposed to be a big career move, a step towards being the managing director of an off-Broadway theatre company, which is what I thought I wanted to do. But it was miserable in every possible way.

I was spending the summer apartment-sitting in Manhattan, living in an unrenovated walk-up across Central Park from the theatre where I worked. Back in Brooklyn, my roommate wanted to go back to living alone, so even my incredibly inexpensive place in Brooklyn was becoming insecure.

Things weren't going well and I knew I needed to make changes, but I didn't yet know what to do.

* * * *

Allan was 21, living in Vermont, not far from where he grew up. Traveling wasn't part of his life at all; he had only been outside of New England a few times. A friend of his was in New York City for the summer, attending film school at New York University, and he invited his friends down for a visit.

So Allan and Ray hopped on a plane and ended up in New York's Greenwich Village. This was - to put it mildly - out of the ordinary.

* * * *

I was on the phone with NN, complaining. "We have to get out of this funk. Let's go dancing! Let's put on something cute and go meet some guys." We chose Danceteria, near her apartment in Chelsea, and I would stay over afterwards. In those days, we went out looking like extras from "Desperately Seeking Susan".

We were waiting on line - it's New York City, you wait on line - outside Danceteria, when a guy came up to us, and said the immortal words:

"Hey, you girls got dates?"

Let me tell you, it sounded as suave as it reads.

I turned away and continued talking with Nancy.

But he persisted. "No, no, it's not that, it's not what you think. My friend and I are trying to get into this club, but they're not letting in single guys, just couples and single girls. Could we just stand next to you and pretend you're our dates? We just want to go in and hear this band."

I looked to where he was indicating his friend was waiting. There was a cute, skinny guy with long hair leaning against a car. Hmm. I asked, "Is that your friend over there?"

He said it was.

"Yeah sure, come on over."

"Hey you girls got dates" was Ray. The cute skinny guy with long hair was Allan.

We all made small talk as the line inched towards the door. When we reached the bouncer, two things happened at the same time. I suddenly realized that if the club was only admitting couples and single women, what were Nancy and I going to do? And the bouncer recognized Allan and Ray.

Tugging on Nancy's sleeve, I said, "Get out of line!" Naturally, she didn't know what I was talking about. "Come on come on, I'll explain later, just get out of line." We jumped out of line and the guys got kicked off the line at the same time.

So now the four of us were just standing on the sidewalk. They may have asked us about music, thinking we were at Danceteria to hear a band. (We didn't even know who was playing there.) I suggested we all go somewhere else to hear music, and we started walking downtown to The Ritz, then on East 11th Street.

Ray, a Red Sox fan wearing a Mets cap, asked me if I liked the Mets. The next thing I knew he was walking backwards in front of me, yelling. "You like the Yankees? How could you like the Yankees?" This in New York City. "You like George Steinbrenner? How could you like a team owned by George Steinbrenner?" We argued the whole way there, and continued arguing for the next 20 years. (As Ray notes, it's just not the same now that I'm a Sox fan.)

Allan and Nancy, both quiet and on the shy side, weren't saying much.

At The Ritz - and we don't know how this happened - we switched. Nancy and Ray went off somewhere, and Allan and I started talking at the bar. Within five minutes, we knew we were both writers, and that neither of us were writing. I remember Allan's face brightening. "A writer, really? I used to write..."

We danced - possibly the first and last time Allan ever voluntarily danced with me - and spent the rest of the evening together.

Much later that night, they walked us back to Nancy's place, and I was scheming to see them the following day. I floated the idea of doing the Circle Line cruise around Manhattan, and Allan seemed interested.

Allan got a splinter ("sliver" in Vermont) in his finger. I followed him into Nancy's bathroom so I could kiss him. The actual existence of said sliver is the subject of debate.

I gave them Nancy's number and we kicked them out.

* * * *

The next day, Allan called Nancy's place and I arranged for the four of us to meet at the Circle Line.

We saw New York City from a boat. We drank vodka. We went to Little Italy for dinner. Allan got sick but recovered. We sat in Washington Square Park. I thought it would be fun and bold to directly ask Allan to come home with me, back to where I was apartment-sitting, but the words didn't quite come out. Instead I dropped the world's largest hint - large enough that even a farmboy from Vermont got it. (He wasn't really a farmboy, it only seemed that way to me.)

We took a wild cab ride. That cab hurtling its way uptown was as New York as anything we saw from the boat. I'll keep this PG-13: we had a lot of fun.

Allan called the next night, and suggested we go to the movies or to another club. I wanted to see him, but I didn't want to go out. He brought a pizza. We sat on the bed in that little walk-up at East 82nd Street, and we talked. For hours. It was intense.

He was supposed to go back to Vermont the next day, but changed his flight to stay two days longer. I called in sick. We spent the rest of his time in New York together.

By the time he flew back, we were in the tenative beginnings of a long-distance relationship.

* * * *

I was freaked out.

The men I had been dating were all much older than me, by around 15 years. This guy was two years younger than me. These men were professionals, with careers. This guy had a boring job and was a college-radio DJ. He wasn't "the kind of guy" I went out with.

On the other hand, the kind of guys I went out with weren't making me happy. (I only dated guys in those days.) Maybe I was barking up the wrong tree. Maybe totally different was a good thing.

Allan and I started writing to each other. Writing, on paper, sending letters through the mail! He drew cartoons for me, and sent me tapes of his radio show. We missed each other a lot.

On Labor Day weekend, feeling a bit surreal, I flew to Vermont to see this long-haired skinny guy. Whatever we had was still there.

* * * *

Within a few months, I had quit my job, and quit my plans for a career in theatre. I became a nanny in exchange for my own apartment, and picked up some work as a freelance proofreader. I turned my life upside down so I could devote more time to writing.

Allan contacted his local newspaper - where he had written professionally during high school - about reviewing local concerts.

When he came to New York for Thanksgiving, the long-distance thing was on in earnest.

We wrote letters. We had huge phone bills. We watched for special fares on People Express. Often we would plan our visits to coincide with what bands were in town. We went to clubs and concerts, and ran around New York City together, and were always really sad to say goodbye.

* * * *

At some point I couldn't stand the long-distance thing anymore. I asked Allan to move to New York. We made a plan. Allan drew two calendars so we could both count down the days.

On January 2, 1987, in the middle of a blizzard, I caught the last flight into Burlington, Vermont before the airport shut down. The plane was rocking back and forth like a seesaw; people cheered when we landed.

The next morning, January 3, it took us three hours - and a tow truck - to dig the U-Haul out of the driveway, and another 12 hours to get to Brooklyn, including getting hit by a skidding car.

* * * *

We celebrate January 3, 1987 as our anniversary, but we always mark the day of July 20, too. (For a while, we took the Circle Line every July 20. But that got old after a few years.)

A few weeks after Allan moved to New York, People Express went out of business. Coincidence?


MSEH said...

I love these stories... but I especially enjoyed this: "In those days, we went out looking like extras from 'Desperately Seeking Susan'."


Amy said...

Yay! Great, great story! You made my day! THANKS!

It is sometimes so amazing how totally random and fortuitous life changing events can be. What if Allan had not come to NYC? What if you had turned them away on the club line? Etc. Etc. What a great romantic story. Thanks so much for sharing. :)

Also, I am so glad you said "on line." We NYers know that you cannot wait IN line. As I told my friends in college when they used to tease me about saying on line, NYers know more about standing on line than any other people, so we know best how to describe it.

Amy said...

PS I woke up this morning, and as soon as I saw what the date was, I thought, "Moon Day! Allan and Laura Day! Got to check WMTC!" :)

Mike said...

Great story. Made me think about the origins of my wife and I's relationship, and it made me smile this morning.

Dates and times have always interested me, and been important to me. Glad 7/20 and 1/2 mean so much to you...

L-girl said...

@Mike thank you. Dates and anniversaries have always been important to me, too. It's July 20 and January 3. :)

@MSEH :>)

@Amy I love this

NYers know more about standing on line than any other people, so we know best how to describe it.


And you're welcome. :) I'm all about the randomness of the universe.

Amy said...

Like the Butterfly Effect! :)

Jere said...

I've been taking a lot of "heat" lately about saying "on line" when referring to standing in a line of people. Now I know I say it that way because it's a New York area thing. But I also say "sliver"! I guess that's what happens when your part of the NY-area is also New England.

"I had been seeing two men" <--can i get a full post about this?

L-girl said...

"I had been seeing two men" <--can i get a full post about this?



L-girl said...

I've been taking a lot of "heat" lately about saying "on line" when referring to standing in a line of people.

In Canada people say "a lineup". "I went to Tim's to get my double-double, but what a lineup eh, I left."

If you used to watch Kids In The Hall, Flying Pig (or Son of Flying Pig) would entertain people in lineups.

I've yet to use this expression.

tim said...

Wow, that's an awesome story. Loved reading it and "getting to know you" more. Picturing Allan with long hair amuses me =)

And yes, its a sliver here in Canada.

Stephanie said...

Nice of you to share your story!!

Incidentally, while 'line-ups' might be the norm here I am perfectly fine with hearing 'standing on-line or in-line', for that matter I am also very used to standing 'in the queue' but that simply reflects multi-cultural influences certainly not the standard for most Ontarians, I think.

Like MSEH, I love the reference to 'Desperately Seeking Susan' takes me back...I've got some scary photos to share one day. So clearly you two were keeping People Express in business...what a shame. But think about the modern version of such as story...e-mail, hotwire and skype or Facebook even.


redsock said...

This is not the super-deluxe detailed version, but it's enough for a blog post, I suppose!

Ray and I were trying to see Redd Kross, a punk band from California. We raised a stink with the bouncer our first time through the line, so that's why he recognized us maybe 10-15 minutes later. It was Ray's idea to ask girls to pretend to be our dates. I didn't care that much and would have just left.

The four of us saw the Swimming Pool Qs at the Ritz. I would kill for a recording of their show that night. (I just sent an email to the band asking if they ever recorded their shows. Why not!)


Who would lie about a sliver?

I miss my hair.

Amy said...

I miss my hair.

How about a picture of circa 1985 Allan and Laura to accompany this post?

Who would lie about a sliver?

Seems obvious to me.

Your memory amazes me. I have never heard of either of those bands. (Shocking news, I am sure.)

redsock said...

We have pics of when L came up for Labor Day. There is also a nice one of us from May 1987, when we went to Boston/Fenway.

redsock said...

Not obvious. I was far too much of a shy, clueless idiot to use anything like that as a ruse of some sort.

Amy said...

Hard to imagine you as clueless, but I guess at 21, it's easy to be clueless. I sometimes forget how innocent we all once were.

Harvey and I have a debate over who kissed who first. I claim I made the first move, he says he did. I guess we all color our history as we prefer it to be remembered.

L-girl said...

Amy, very few people had heard of those bands - even then. There's entirely no reason to have heard of them now.

I miss my hair.

Hey, I miss being able to fit into the miniskirt I was wearing that day. But I wouldn't be 24 again for the world. You're a much better person at 46 with little hair than you were at 21 with much hair.

L-girl said...

Thanks Tim and Stephanie :)

Ha ha, different Stephanie.

Picturing Allan with long hair amuses me =)

Oh yeah, long hair and super skinny! (That's what turned my head.) Now picture me with a fluffy perm, and... oh no, best end it there.

And yes, its a sliver here in Canada.

Really?! I didn't know that.

@Stephanie, I thought people would say "queue up" here, as part of the British heritage, so I was surprised not to find that.

I've often thought of how different long-distance r'ships are now b/c of email, Skype, texting. We were really forced to make an effort. Things took a lot longer, but that was good for us then, we needed the time.

deang said...

That was very nice. I haven't thought of Redd Kross or the Swimming Pool Qs in years! I actually saw Redd Kross once myself in Dallas, but it was later than the mid-80s, when they had gone whole-hog for plaid flares and platform shoes with waist-length early 70s hair. Wish I had seen them when they still looked 80s hardcore.

And we say splinters usually here in Texas, too, but if I had a tiny bit of glass in my finger I would call it a sliver of glass. Splinters are wood.

West End Bob said...

Great story, L-girl and Allan, thanks!

"drf"'s and mine is much shorter: 1984, alcohol, drugs, gay bar, disco music, sun about to come up - You know the drill (pardon the expression!)

You're a much better person at 46 with little hair than you were at 21 with much hair.

Awwww, that's so sweet . . . .

Stephanie said...

OH the 80's hair...one of the few advertisements that I have enjoyed recently is the Pepsi/flock of seagulls hairdo commercial!

Incidentally thanks to this post i have had a host of old tunes playing (including flock of seagulls) in my mental sountrack all day, THANKS! :)

As for lexical items 'sliver' is definitely preferable to 'splinter' but I have heard both here but those using 'splinter' may well have been from other parts (in the small town of my childhood everybody came from somewhere else)...I can be in the queue or on the queue but to queue up reminds me of playing billiards (pool). I think it is lexically reinforced for me because it is bilingual but as a usage it was certainly first influenced by British acquaintances.

BUT then again they say things like "I'll knock you up at 8" which doesn't go over so well on this side of the ocean...lol.

L-girl said...

1984, alcohol, drugs, gay bar, disco music, sun about to come up

But your relationship also started out as just fun, a one night's stand, as ours did? Funny how that works. You guys have been together a long time!

You know the drill (pardon the expression!)

*eye roll*


L-girl said...

I haven't thought of Redd Kross or the Swimming Pool Qs in years!

Me neither :)

L-girl said...

No one has asked what happened to Nancy and Ray.

They are still our closest friends. And they did hook up that night.

And since Allan and I never got legally married, Nancy and Ray never saw each other again.

Amy said...

I did wonder about Nancy and Ray. I figured they did not end up together. But never saw each other again? That's surprising, since you are both still close to both of them. Maybe a reunion is in order?

L-girl said...

Ha, that's funny, a reunion. If we had wanted to be legally married, I guess that would have done it.

Well, Allan would see Ray in Vermont, and Nancy was (is still) in NYC. Ray came down to NYC a couple of times, but it's not like we arranged anything. That was strictly a one-off thing. As Allan and I were supposed to be!

Harrison said...

I really enjoyed this post! Your writing is so captivating!!!!! It just sucked me in.

L-girl said...

Really? Wow, thank you.

If you didn't have a profile available, I'd almost think you were a troll. I expected to see a link to a viagra website.

accudart said...

I got a kick at of the "Desperately Seeking Susan" reference as well. Wow, July 20 1985....let that soak in some! Great story Laura, brings back some memories. You and Allan have gone the distance and have been great friends. I hate being so far away now, this winter or next summer for sure. What kind of bar has a punk band and doesn't let single guys in.....a smart bar. I guess Danceateria should get a Holiday card! Hope you had a great day! I'm Ray by the way:)

Amy said...

Hi, Ray! Thanks for bringing Allan to NYC and helping to connect him with Laura. We are all better off as a result!

redsock said...

I should note that Ray and Lindy are celebrating their 3rd wedding anniversary today (wmtc).

(I was hoping Ray might add some details to the infamous "approaching of the line". I am confident I was saying "ah fuck this shit" and he was saying "no, we can get in", and I was waiting for him to get his stupid idea over with. I can't really say if we have ever discussed that in detail the way we have certain Red Sox games. (We have seemed to get deep into only the really shitty ones.) We probably have, though, during some time we were hanging out together.)

Ray: Do you have any idea when the idea of us going back with Scott was made? I feel like it was that day, but maybe it was the day before, because we did pack some things and I left my car at your house. (In those days, you could just show up at the airport, walk right on a PE flight, and go -- and pay on board during the flight.)

L-girl said...

Happy Anniversary, Ray & Lindy!

Thanks for bringing Allan to NYC and helping to connect him with Laura. We are all better off as a result!

Oh Amy, that is so sweet.

mkk said...

Great story! A belated happy Laura-and-Allan-Meeting Day! Looking forward to seeing you both next week!

L-girl said...

Hey look, this story is cross-referenced in this post. Scroll down or search for the word Allan.

Amy said...

And that is also where I posted the question about how you and Allan met.

L-girl said...

Yes indeed! I'm pretty sure you also asked in a gamethread last year. We probably announced it was the anniversary.

Amy said...

I am sure that I asked during a game thread also. I can be persistent!

accudart said...

"Ray: Do you have any idea when the idea of us going back with Scott was made? I feel like it was that day, but maybe it was the day before"

Allan, your kidding right. I'm lucky if I remember what I had for lunch yesterday:) It must be all that Rhinegold 12 pk's.

L-girl said...

In addition to the Rheingold, Ray hasn't been thinking about and retelling this story for 20 years like we have. I doubt he remembers the level of detail we are attempting.