When I moved to NYC, I was so done with dating and my small hometown, Endicott, NY. I wanted more out of life than working for IBM, which started in my hometown! In early September of 1985, I told my parents that in 2 weeks I was moving to NYC, with no job, and nowhere to live, they freaked. I was not worried about finding a job, but that was easy, I found my cousin Joni, in Brooklyn Heights, moved in with her – after a year, I moved to the upper east side!
I loved the hustle and bustle of the city, and I loved all the people, people from all over, all the different cultures, all different walks of life! I worked for a company that was very male-dominated, and all the guys that were old enough to be my father wanted me to meet their sons! However, their sons lived on Long Island, and they wanted ME to go to Long Island for a date! I would tell them are you kidding me, I am in the greatest city in the world and if they can’t come here for a date – I am not going!
As I settled in the city, I had come to the realization that I really did not need or want a man in my life! To be honest, I really thought that because I had very strong views on a woman’s place in society and my politics were very independent of my parents and relatives, I would just learn to be ok with it! I had dated quite a few guys to this point, and they were all the same, nice enough guys, but they were into themselves, and our relationship was never a partnership. Everything with them came first, I came second! I would ask myself, what did I need that for?? Look at me, I am in the most fantastic city in the world, on my own, living the Mary Richards life – without the sunk-in living room of course!
At this point, I was a bit frustrated with my job, mostly because there was no one to hang out with after work. Every day as I walked out of my office, I could see the Twin Towers, majestically standing above the clouds. I decided I want a part-time job at night, maybe as a hostess so I could be with people my own age. So, I went to the World Trade Center and Windows on the World and applied for a job. However, they did not have an opening at the moment, but they did at one of their other restaurants near Broadway. I told the woman sure, I’ll go, and the next day I got the job as a hostess at Cafe 43, the old Rosoff’s Hotel, which was a speakeasy in the 1930s. That night I was introduced to the staff, and there standing in the middle of the kitchen was a Sous Chef who was introduced to me as Keith! I must say that I did immediately notice how cute he was, with a very thick dark brown beard, beautiful kind eyes, sexy as hell and extremely tall, with his toque (Chef hat) he looked 7ft, he was the giant in the room!
It was June of 1986, and I knew I was going to love this job, right in the heart of Broadway! The first night that I worked there, I was being shown the ropes entered the kitchen, I met the rest of the staff for both the front and back of the house! My night went pretty smoothly for a 180-seat restaurant, the primary service was always just before the Broadway shows when this very tall guy walked in and asked me how I was doing? I said I was great, a table for 2 (which I said as a question because he was alone). He said you don’t remember me; I’m crushed, we met 2 days ago. I took a step back and realized that this guy was the Sous Chef I met, the giant in the room! He looked entirely different, he had long hair, that went down his back, that had a blonde streak through it, he had 3 earrings in left ear and one in his right. He had 2 different color converse sneakers on, one green, one red, he had a chain that hugged his hip, that went from a belt loop to his back pocket (attached to his wallet), the worst Musk Cologne EVER and oh yeah, a fedora to top it all! He was still sexy as hell, and he still had his beautiful kind eyes! I looked at him and said, do you come to work often on your day off, and he told me that it is your first day, I wanted to make sure you got off on the right foot! From that moment, we were instant buds!
Every time I worked, after service, instead of going home, he would come to the dining room and sit with me until I closed the restaurant, every single time! He was quite the flirt, but I just loved sitting and speaking with him, because for the first time I actually found someone that talked my talk! He was extremely intelligent he told me he read every volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and I was like yeah, sure who would do that! (Later, I found out he honestly did!) He did not make me feel small, he would hang on every word I said. I really felt so free to tell him things I never told anyone, like how much I hated guys at work calling me honey, or how I felt about politics, or how I felt about the homeless situation in the city! He had the same philosophies on life and even more intense because he truly lived the NYC life! He had a way of making me feel like I was the MOST important person in the room.
He was so polar opposite from the other guys I dated, I dated more the Yuppie types, and I was a Yuppie with my Harvey Bernard tailored suits and stiletto heels. He was a Hippie, t-shirt, and jeans were all he needed. Even though we seemingly had nothing in common, the more we talked, the more we had so much in common. I was a disco queen, 1977, 78, 79, he was heavy into the Grateful Dead. Pat Benatar was my hero, John Lennon was his! The more we talked about music, the more we realized that our common ground in music was the Beatles, we both, loved the Beatles, and that made the Disco thing ok with him!
Over the next few months, we had such a great time! He would write fictitious names in the reservation book, and he would be the one to show up for the reservation on his days off! I would tell him that he was such a jerk, and he started to write encrypted messages in the reservation book sign SAJerk! I would just shake my head, I would constantly tell him that he was not funny, he would quip, me???? Everyone thinks I’m hysterical, to that I would reply, well not me, with that he would just give me a wink!
He would constantly ask me out, and I would flatly say no! We have a good thing here, why ruin it! Plus, I do not date people I work with, I have been there, done that and it never ends well! Besides, I told him, you flirt with everyone here, I am no different! He said OK Sure!
In December, Keith’s brother Randy and his new girlfriend, Joyce had come to the restaurant, and Keith sat at a table with them! I would go over in between seating people; we laughed and had a great time! After a while, Joyce said are you too dating, I must have looked at her in horror, and said, NOOOO!!! Keith just shook his head! I was mortified at the thought, I work with him, I do not date ANYONE I work with! It definitely shocked me, do people think that I am dating this guy??? HOLY CRAP!!!!
On New Year’s Eve, our restaurant was right off Times Square, just before Midnight all the staff headed up to the roof to watch the ball drop! It was quite thrilling, as we watched hundreds of thousands of people below getting ready for 1987 to arrive! We had bottles of champagne, and everyone was feeling great! Once everything died down, the rest of the crew started to head back in. I was still leaning over the edge of the roof looking down, loving every minute. Suddenly I realized that Keith and I are the only ones on the roof, and the tension you could cut with a knife! I could sense his closeness, and I knew right then and there that he wanted to kiss me! I was not having it, I said, ok time to go back in! I did an about-face heading back into the restaurant, leaving Keith standing at the building’s edge!
As the months passed, Keith’s flirting got more revved up, I was nervous, but loved it at the same time! I would tell him to stay home on his day off, but at the same time hoping he would completely ignore me – which he always did! I found myself, looking for the messages in the reservations book, I found myself, leaving my other job early to go to Cafe 43 early! I kept saying to myself, WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING??? I don’t need this man! I don’t want to lose my independence, but I also did not want him not to show up! We have become best Buddies, why do I want to ruin this!!!
Then on Friday, April 17th, after work, we were supposed to meet some co-workers for a drink after the shift! Keith said he would meet me at the restaurant across the street called Century Cafe. I closed the restaurant and headed over, and Keith was the only one at the bar! I asked where everyone was, he said he didn’t know, so I sat down. We talked and talked until 2 in the morning when we realized that NO ONE showed up! I told Keith I need to go home, and he said I will walk you to get a cab on 6th Ave. As we were strolling up the block, he stopped and grabbed me and pulled me towards him and kissed me – an extremely passionate kiss, all-consuming kiss, a kiss that I felt to my toes, a kiss that changed everything, he didn’t just kiss me, he kissed me to my soul!
The next day we went to work together, I told him, ok, but I want NO ONE to know what just happened, I still am trying to figure this out, but I do not want to be gossip! He agreed, and we walked in separately! We did this for many many months but as the months went by our relationship got so much more intense! By July we knew that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. We started to tell a couple of people at the cafe that we were together, and their reaction was funny! Everyone already knew, they told us, they were waiting for us to catch up!
Keith and I got engaged in September and married on November 27, 1987! From New Year’s till November our fates were sealed. We were seemingly opposite to many people, we were the couple that would walk in the room, and people would say, how did THOSE two get together! But we didn’t care, we always let each other by ourselves. Only once did I try to change the way he dressed, it was going to a family function, and I bought him a nice button-down shirt, pants and shoes, no sneakers. He lovingly obliged and we went to the party, but at one point I noticed him trying to discreetly pull at his collar, and trying to stretch his neck, I was horrified when I realized that he was uncomfortable, and I was the one that made him uncomfortable! I ran up to him and told him I am so sorry; I will never do that to you again. I don’t care about the sneakers or the button-down shirts, I love you for who you are – not what you are wearing! I never did again. Oh, he did wear suits to weddings and funerals, but we always had sneakers in the car!
Over the next 30 years, we had the best relationship! We always came first, no matter what happened, if we could not fix or help ourselves, we were no good to anyone! That is how we lived our lives. This is not to say that life was not hard, life was VERY hard, but we stayed focused on us, and we tried never to take the special love that we shared for granted. We both had open minds about everything, Keith often said that he brought me to the edge, and I kept him from falling off! We often spoke about the near rooftop kiss and the kiss that rocked our world on 43rd St. We were absolutely right for each other, and we are so grateful for our beautiful life! Happy 31st Anniversary Babe, our first not together, I am not sure how I will make it over the next 30 years, but I am sure you will still be by my side! I love and miss you so much Babe! xo