Previous chapter: College & teaching
As we begin to talk about Barbara I need to preface it by saying how lucky I have been to have had 2 incredible women in my life. 2 very incredible women. When Clara was diagnosed with cancer in '92 I decided I would leave Mills High School and take care of her. A lady counselor was hired and I broke her in. I spent time with her, showing her my office, where the files were, sharing anything that would help her transition into the job. Her name was Linda. It seems that she had a sister. And her name was Barbara. At that time that meant nothing to me.
There was a Christmas party at Mills. At Martinelli's in Millbrae. I was invited to it. So this was '96. Clara had passed away. I didn't realize it but it was a setup. Linda was trying to get me to meet her sister Barbara. What they did is they had a karaoke machine. There was 2 microphones. So they handed a microphone to me. I said, "I can't sing. I'm not gonna sing." I didn't know it but they handed one to Barbara, too, and they brought Barbara and me onto the stage area. I didn't know who Barbara was. I said to her, "I can't sing." She said, "Neither can I." We did something stupid. Row, row, row your boat or something. I don't know what the song was. Anyway, nothing really happened. I met her. I don't think we said more than 2 words.
And then it was clear that there were some attempts to put us together somehow. Allen and Brooke invited me to dinner at their house. I didn't know it but Bob and Linda were also invited and so was Barbara. Barbara coincidentally sat next to me. The only thing I said to her that night was "Would you please pass the butter?" So help me. It wasn't that I was shy. By the way I was in therapy at the time. I was still having a hard time. After 44 years of marriage. I wasn't quite ready for another woman in my life at the time. But they were tenacious about the 2 of us. "They" being my good friends, Bob, Linda, Allen, and Brooke. So, not much transpired that night. We had a group picture taken.
And then we were invited to a dinner at the Mountain House. Bob and Linda are there. Barbara's there. Allen and Brooke. And some other friends. And me. Barbara and I started to talk a little bit. Not much was igniting in my life. Barbara had just gone through an incredible divorce. She was married to an ogre who had taken off on various occasions with another woman. He was terrible. So she was really hurting and was not interested in a relationship.
But Linda, her sister, was tenacious. I had just been up to Calistoga. I went to a wedding. My nephew, Jeff Corcini, was married. I got home and there was a message on the phone. From Barbara! Now I have to back up. Linda, her sister, was trying to have her connect with me. She was talking to Barbara on the phone, and she says, "Call Tony and see if he wants to go out." Barbara says, "I'm not gonna call him." Linda says, "Call him and see what he's doing!" So Barbara calls and says, "hi-this-is-barbara-do-you-want-to-go-to-a-show-or-something-goodbye." I had just got home from a wedding. It's 9:30 at night. I truly was lonely and feeling sorry for myself. So I called her and she answered. I said, "It's kinda late, I don't know if you wanna go to a show or something?"
So we went down to Palo Alto. My car wasn't working and I had borrowed Julianne's Jeep. I guess I must have picked up Barbara. It started to rain and I didn't know how to turn on the windshield wipers. Which was embarrassing. I was thinking, "What an auspicious night this has been." Barbara's leaning over and trying to help me figure out the wipers. We eventually got them going. So that kinda broke the ice. By the time we got to Palo Alto the show had already started. I hadn't eaten and there was a restaurant across from the theater. So I said, "Do you wanna get something to eat?" So it was the first time the 2 of us, without friends, talked. And we chatted, and chatted, and chatted, and became a little more acquainted with each other. I don't know if we ever went to the show. We talked for quite a while.
We went to dances. We had a lot of fun together. We were both lonely. Looking for fun. Looking for companionship. She was a teacher, I was a teacher. We had a lot in common.
Fast forward a while later, we've been seeing each other for some time and decide to go on a trip together to Spain. I'm gonna visit the birthplace of my mother. Barbara had met my mom. We went to Cabra and Cordoba. Bob and Linda joined us. We all stayed at the same hotel. Prior to leaving I had Allen Knight address a card for me, which I sent to the hotel where we were staying. When we got to that hotel, once we got settled, I went downstairs and asked if the envelope had came in. Sure enough it had come in the mail. So we were having cocktails out on the patio, having a drink, olives, what have you. This lady from the main desk comes over, carrying this envelope in her hand. She says, "Is there a Barbara here?" Barbara says, "Soy aqui." I'm here. She was perplexed. Who's sending? Nobody knows her here. Yet it's addressed to her. In a handwriting she didn't recognize. So she opens the letter and she reads it and it says, "Will you marry me?" She started crying. And then Linda and Bob went bonkers. I probably got emotional myself. It worked out beautifully. She said, "I'll give you my answer in Sevilla." Anyway we got to Sevilla and she said yes. My mom and Allen were the only two that knew I was going to propose.