Move over, Brangelina. This is what I call a real fairy tale romance.
Once upon a time and far away, there were no such things as, say, sex tapes while dating, Instead, there was something called "courtship." It worked like this: A man found a woman that he liked and tried to win her over. It was called "wooing." Wooing occurred during courtship. Maybe you could look it up on Wikipedia.
How times have changed! Now it's Brangelina's exploits in the tabloids and everyone is hooking up on eHarmony and match.com. Everyone's desperate to get a date, and there's four women to every man in New York City. They guarantee results in cyberspace, photos a plus. Make sure your Blackberry is on, because it is love by text these days. Get ready to look good for your next video date. How romantic, right?
Or maybe you could gather in close and let me tell you a story about my mother and father, Frances and Chester, who have been married 65 years. It's be the best way to illustrate this old-fashioned concept called courtship.
Ever since I was a young girl, I have loved to pick up my mother's wedding album and page through their incredibly romantic journey. The images of that special day are etched lovingly into memory: My mother in her wedding dress surrounded by her many sisters, getting ready for the big day ... My handsome father standing proudly at the altar waiting for his bride.
My mother would tell me over and over again the story of how they first met during the war (World War II), and that when she saw my father for the very first time, she saw a halo around him, or an aura, like you would see in a church.
My mother also told me stories of how before she met my father when she and her best friend Helen were painting the town red with a date every night! New York was knee deep in men, and they weren't going to miss out on the fun! In their girlish exuberance, Helen and my mom had concocted a sort of tag team dating ritual: If Helen had a date, her date had to bring a friend for mom to double with, and vice versa. That's how it was done. My mom was spectacular, drop dead gorgeous, a burgeoning model, so this was not hard to believe.
It was all about dating for my mom -- no hanky panky however, as she was an obedient Catholic girl who never even let a guy get to first base! The last thing my mother expected was to end the whirlwind of male attention by falling in love.
But she did! Here's how it happened: Helen organized a dinner party and promised to serve an Italian feast to a group of visiting officers. Unfortunately, Helen was Polish and knew nothing about cooking ... Or boiling a Kielbasa! My mother had no intention of going to this dinner party, but Helen threatened to never speak to my mother again unless she cooked some pasta. My mom begrudgingly donned an apron, grabbed the Parmesan cheese and cooked up a fabulous meal.
When my father Chester showed up to the apartment with a loaf of Italian bread hooked under his arm, my mom looked up and saw a handsome man with blond hair, blue eyes and a golden aura around him. He loved the pasta, but he loved my mother even more. After the dinner party, he escorted Frances home on the LL Canarsie Line, to the very last stop. When they arrived at her family home, one of Mom's other suitors was sitting in the family parlor, awaiting her return.
Now, my mother was no desperate Sex and the City girl! She was seeing other people (her beaux included Richard LaFleur and a lawyer named Anthony Sugamelli) but that didn't dissuade my father. Not one bit!
Once, when Mr. Sugamelli was in the family parlor courting my mother, my father arrived and refused to leave! My father also won the heart of my grandmother (and that was no easy task!) with his kindness, integrity, and big blue eyes.
I wonder if the art of courtship is long gone. I also wonder if what my mother and father have had together will ever be seen again.
On Sunday August 23 of this year, my parents, Frances and Chester Sliwa, celebrated the renewal of their vows in the Lady Chapel in St. Patrick's Cathedral, the very chapel where they first tied the knot, in 1944.
It was a very heartfelt moment, to see my children, Gian and Francesca, now almost five, and Curtis and Mary's son Anthony, participate as ring bearers and flower girl in the place where it all began.
Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad! How lucky you were to come of age when courtship was in style!
Cross posted at the Daily News.
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