Saturday, February 14, 1998

Valentine's Day Thoughts

Valentine's Day musings, thoughts about my wife and our relationship. Sort of a text Valentine's Day card.

We always tell people that we met through computer dating. It was twenty-one years ago. She was a college senior carrying a double major: pre-med and also math with computer science concentration. I was taking grad courses in computer science and was working as a second shift computer operator at the university where she was a student. I knew her enough to recognize her as a computer student and to smile or nod hello. On this night she came to the window to ask about the positions of her jobs in the batch queues. I wrote her job names on a blank computer card (yes, twenty-one years ago folks, computer programs were keypunched onto cards -- in this case, IBM 5081 cards) and then went to the main console to check on their location in the queues. (And yes, I did increase the priority on her jobs so that they moved up in the queues.) And before going back to the window I stopped at a key punch machine and key punched onto the card: HOW ABOUT DINNER AND A MOVIE SATURDAY NIGHT? After she read the card she told me she would let me know, and then she checked me out with some friends who knew me before coming back to agree to the date.

We went out that Saturday for dinner (Augustino's Restaurant in the Oakdale Mall). On our way through the mall from the restaurant to the mall cinema we were solicited by a woman at a kiosk, offering to take our photograph, which we could then have printed up, perhaps overlaying the sheet music for "our song." We found this amusing, told her that we were on our first date. (Although I have been guilty sometimes of leading people on when telling this story, claiming that we led the woman to believe that she was a married woman and that we were afraid her husband would find out if we had our picture taken.) In actuality, I did have an urge to let her take our picture but it did seem a silly thing to do on a first date and I was afraid she would think I was a bit wacky if I did such a thing. Now, of course, I dearly wish that we did have a picture of us together on our first date.

That was in 1977. We were married in 1979 -- twice. We wanted our own ceremony but we did not know anyone licensed to perform marriages in New York State who might be willing to use our ceremony. We solved this by having two weddings. The first was before a judge in his chambers. This took care of the legal requirements. (After the ceremony we went out to lunch with the two couples who had attended us, choosing an outdoor table at a small restaurant in our neighborhood.) The next weekend we had our own ceremony that we had designed and written, incorporating bits of poetry and Bible verse and musical accompaniment on guitar and recorder. Our best man and our maid of honor joined us in reading our ceremony and at the conclusion we proclaimed ourselves to be married. The wedding was in her parents' backyard -- the weather was perfect, a beautiful June afternoon -- the lawn set with tables and chairs, the patio for dancing to the music of a live band. It was a great party, still in full sway when we had to leave to catch our flight to London for our honeymoon.

The next year we became home owners. In 1982 our daughter was born and our son in 1985. We completed our master's degrees together, even co-authored our thesis: Human Factors Engineering and the Design of On-Line Computer Application Systems.

So much has happened over the years. Times of great joy and times of great sorrow, but we have been together, sharing and helping each other.

Now it is Valentine's Day 1998. In a few days it will be twenty-one years since I turned a punch card into an invitation to dinner and a movie. This June we will celebrate our nineteenth wedding anniversary. I want to say that I am every bit as much in love now as I was then, but actually I think I am even more in love now.

Happy Valentine's Day!

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