When I was little, we didn’t have a TV. But sometimes, at my grandparents on Saturday nights, I was allowed to watch PBS. Which is where I saw The King and I and Kiss Me Kate. Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Cole Porter…
And I fully expected that when I grew up, Howard Keel would come for me.
If you’ve seen The King and I, you remember Deborah Kerr wearing a lavender hoopskirt the size of a swimming pool. And Yul Brynner wearing elaborate red pajamas and ankle bangles. And you remember the scene where they dance around a very fancy ballroom.
To my small self, it was the defining standard of romance.
More than that—the epitome of all existence.
And I understood. THAT was my destiny.
I understood it in the profound way other people understand life after death. Or the existence of aliens. Deeply, and without need of actual proof.
It’s good I understood all this so well, since when I met Paul he wasn’t wearing red pajamas. Or ankle bangles. Or even a fedora or a dressing gown.
I met Paul in Philadelphia, at a nightclub that’s now defunct. The Five Spot had Salsa dancing on Tuesday nights. It was swelteringly hot and they had a live band and an impossibly small dance floor. And every single person in a three-state radius would turn out.
I noticed Paul immediately. He was tall and handsome. And I saw him voluntarily dance with a beginner. Which is rare.
So when Paul asked me to dance, I pointed him to my best friend. Not because I wasn’t interested, but because she was visiting from five states away and she only knew the three steps I’d taught her before dragging her out the door. I knew he’d make it fun for her.
Later, on the way home, I said to Lara that I had found Paul thrilling and I’d thought there was something. And I was disappointed and surprised he hadn’t made sure he could find me again.
Years later, when I told Paul this, he looked at me sideways and said—I asked you to dance. AND YOU SAID NO. Do you not understand? This NECESSITATES AN ADJUSTMENT OF PLANS?
And I was like, seriously? What? I didn’t say no. I paid you the ultimate compliment of deeming you kind enough for my best friend. AND? I DID dance with you LATER. And? Didn’t you see the sign? Flashing on my forehead? In neon? That said—I like you. I think you might be the King of Siam.
A year went by after The Five Spot. And I saw him at another dance thing. I recognized him immediately. And since I am paralyzingly shy, I hid and hoped he wouldn’t notice me. I can’t say this did anything to encourage him.
He asked me to dance. This time there was a giant floor. And I felt just like Deborah Kerr. Like Kathryn Grayson. And that I’d found a portal to Kiss Me Kate. And that Howard Keel and Yul Brynner had finally come for me.
I had been waiting my whole life for this.
None of which explains why— when Paul called me a few days later… I did not call him back. And when he called again. I still didn’t call him back. Even to myself, it made no sense.
Except? Would YOU call Yul Brynner? I think not.
Now, Paul likes to remind me that even back then… before we even knew each other—he had to do all the hard work. And if left to my own devices, we would have never gotten together. And I will point out that he could have called me again. And he will say, no. No I could not. Twice says I like you. Three times says I’m stalking you.
More time went by. And I saw him at another dance thing. I was bent over, changing my shoes, and the girl I was with nudged me and said quietly—here comes that guy you never called back.
I was like—SHHHHHIIIIIITTTTT. And felt simultaneously the stomach-drop of when someone you like is going to talk to you. AND the sharp anxiety of when someone is about to yell at you.
But he didn’t. Yell at me. He didn’t say WHY did you give me your number if you didn’t want me to call you? He didn’t say WHY did you look at me like you might swoon, and bat your eyelashes… if you weren’t going to call me back? He didn’t say WHAT is WRONG with you.
He held out his hand and said—Hi. Waltz?
Eight years ago, today… we got married.
Venue details after the jump…
Built in the era between the Gilded Age and the Jazz Age, the du Pont broke ground in 1911. The twelve-story Italian Renaissance hotel was commissioned by Pierre S. du Pont. A labor of love by French and Italian craftsmen who carved, gilded, and painted the exceptional details by hand.
Hotel du Pont was built to rival the finest hotels of New York City and European capitals. Expansion in 1918 added the Gold Ballroom to the Hotel du Pont.
This glorious French Neoclassic Gold Ballroom, with its gilded rosettes, glittering chandeliers and hand carved and gilded bas-reliefs of famous women including Helen of Troy and Cleopatra, could not be more festive or extravagant. It’s a perfect setting for weddings, banquets, balls and other occasions of celebration.