It was a Thursday when June 21 rolled around in 1973.
Here we are, a scant 37 years later, and it's a Monday.
And not too much else has changed.
That was the fabled night in history when my friends, who had been planning a birthday party for one of our gang, decided that they were tired of seeing me with the women of lesser degree with whom I kept company in my wilder days, chronicled so faithfully in the hit movie "Animal House." So they said they would fix me up with a nice girl, a girl named Peggy.
I made my plans for the big night with the same sort of planning that Eisenhower employed for D-Day. I told the boys at the Bratwursthaus that if the fix-up-date was no good, I'd be there on my usual perch, and I told them that if ten o'clock got there and I hadn't, to forget me for that night and move on to our usual pursuits of guzzling draft beer and putting a fine cap on the night at the Bel-Loc Diner, without me for once.
As far as I know, at least some of the gang are still hanging around at the Brat, waiting to see how this date is going.
It's going very well. What happened was, I walked into her house with my buddy and his gf and took one look at Peggy's root-beer-barrel color eyes and long chestnut hair and slightly crooked grin and that was it for me. It was like that scene in the first Godfather movie..not the one where Abe Vigoda asks Michael if he would let him off the hook "for old times' sake," but the one where Michael goes to Italy and is struck by the thunderbolt of love when first he espies the lovely Appolonia.
I have told this story countless times, even more often than I have told the story about the one-legged British hitchhiker, and to this day I still see the furrowed brows of disbelievers when I say - and I would swear to this in any court of law or house of worship - that from the very first second I saw Peggy, I knew that she was the woman sent from above for me to love, cherish, honor, marry, and often obey. And who am I to gainsay Heaven?
But, with a remarkable ability that I have never had before or since to figure out how to do things in a suave manner, I decided to play it cool and not mention marriage in the first few minutes of our acquaintance. I mean, if the courthouse were still open, I would have gladly run over there that evening, but people tend to regard marriage proposals received from people they only met five minutes ago as bogus, so I held my ground.
The four of us chatted away the evening. '73 being the summer of the Watergate hearings, there was plenty to talk about. Later, I took Peggy out for a late snack at a little neighborhood joint called Dunkin' Donuts. Even then, there was no limit to how debonair I could be.
The next night was the birthday party and we went as a couple. I can't remember much about the party, because I must have spent the entire night in a lovestruck haze.
Saturday dawned and I had to go back to Salisbury, where I was working as a radio DJ - old school country, as it were. I drove back down to that chicken-pluckin' town on the Lower Eastern shore, still in the throes of love. Even hour of hour of "Little" Jimmy Dickens, Freddie Hart and the Heartbeats and Jack Greene and the Jolly Giants failed to take my mind off my beloved, who had never heard of any of those performers, 130 miles away.
Sunday, same thing. I believe I went swimming at the public lake in scenic DelMar, MD ("Where Delaware Meets Maryland") and then off to work til midnight. I do remember that after work I came home, had a burger and a beer, and tried to sleep, with no results. So, I called Peggy, for maybe the 27th time that weekend, but this one took place at 3 o'clock in the morning.
I asked her if she would marry me.
She said yes, she would, and I would I let her go back to sleep?
For the first time all weekend, I slept, all happy and in love. So, we met on June 21, and the proposal came in the wee hours of the 25th. We were married that December 8, in lavish ceremonies that came as a surprise to many, if not all, of the invited guests.
And from that day to this, I have never known a lonely night, and when I tell young couples that they shouldn't really rush into anything, I have to hold up the meaty palm of my right hand as sort of an asterisk and say, "But you know...sometimes, you know it's right...."
I love you, Peggy. Will you marry me again for the next 37 million years?