They actually had a meet cute. My mom was a freshman, come from a strict Catholic Italian Massachusetts neighborhood to the lax hippydom of Reed College in the 60s. My father was a senior, and a dorm advisor, and a theatre major about to embark on his senior thesis: directing a play.
As a dorm advisor, my dad got a lookbook with pictures of all the incoming freshmen and, of course, he noticed my mom. Picture the scene: Tall slender senior, cute and wearing glasses (which tells you he’s intellectual – and, actually, in this case tells you half of where my bad eyesight came from). Any rate. Back to the scene:
He’s in his dorm room – Â door open so that any of his incoming frosh can get his attention – flipping through the look book. He stops at the photo of a dark haired Italian girl, dark hair completely covering one side of her face. Very Veronica Lake.
A friend & fellow dorm advisor stops by, “Hey, Larry. Get a move on. We’ve got a meeting with the Dean of Students in 10 minutes.” Friend looks over his shoulder to see the picture he’s staring at. “Cute. You going to look her up?”
My dad: “What? No. She’s a freshman. Too young. Besides, it’s not like I have any time.”
Fateful words, those. In the film world, that seals his fate right there. And, indeed, skip forward a bit and…
We’re watching my 18 year old mother and some girlfriends walking together. They stop at a bulletin board in their dorm. On it there’s a notice for auditions for a play.
“You going to try out?” one asks.
“Of course!” answers another. “We should all go to the audition together! It will be fun.”
My shy mother, half intrigued, half embarassed, laughs. “I don’t know…”
“Oh, come on, Elaine!”
My mother laughs and gives in, “Oh, all right. But I’ll never get picked.”
Equally fateful words. Because of course she gets picked. Neither of her friends make it into the play, but she lands the role of the ingenue. The love interest for the main character. And why not? After all, when my father looks at her there’s something about her that just feels right for the part.