I was fifteen years old and we were talking marriage.
That’s normal, right?
Not only did Anthony love me to death, his parents did as well. But I was shocked when I met his mother because when I first laid my eyes on her, I couldn’t believe who was standing in front of me.
We lived in a sub-division called Northdale, and in Northdale there was a local legend of sorts that my family had nicknamed, “The Northdale Walker”.
The Northdale Walker took power walking to a whole new level.
Picture a short Puerto Rican woman with big, curly, permed hair, tons of makeup, a giant fashionable headband, short shorts, big bazooms, and a tank top speeding by you in a blur of power and color when you least expected it. With her arms pumping, legs pounding the pavement at full speed, and a Sony Walkman blaring so loud even you could hear it, the Northdale Walker was a sight to behold in the oppressive Florida heat. Everyday she would speed walk by, and someone in our house would yell “there she is!” and we would all run to look out the front window.
And now, here she was in my life as my future mother-in-law. I remember running home to my parents and saying, “Oh my God Anthony’s mother is the Northdale Walker!”
His father was 100% Italian and looked like Alfred Molina. He was a surgeon, or so he said. He never went to work. All I know is that Anthony told me his dad had an “accident” of some sort and was no longer able to operate, his hands were insured for millions of dollars and he would never work again.
That can happen, right???
His parents would talk to me about going back to Italy with them. Sounded good to me! Then they started talking to my parents about taking me away with them to Italy. Didn’t sound too good to them.
One night while watching a movie at his house in the living room, Anthony got down off of the couch, got down on one knee and asked if I would do him the honor of going to the high school homecoming dance with him.
You would think a wedding was about to take place.
I will never forget going to Burdines department store at Tampa Bay Mall to look at dresses with my mother. I had some specific dresses in mind that I had seen in my Seventeen magazine, but none of them looked quite right on me. My poor mom, who in retrospect was so nice about all of the dresses that I wanted to wear that were not at all age appropriate for me.
Trying them on, I must have looked like I was in the cast of Dynasty or Falcon Crest - all these really elaborate ‘80’s gown-type dresses in jeweled colors like green, purple and hot pink. After shooting me down several times, I remember my mom pulling this sweet white dress off the rack. It was a Gunne Sax dress, which was a cool label, but on the hanger, it didn’t have the oomph that I truly wanted. But as soon as I tried it on both mom and I knew, this was the dress. It may not have been as hip as I wanted, but it was demure enough to please my mother and showed enough skin to please me. Done.
The day of the dance I remember having a full day of beauty - taking a long bubble bath, my mom doing my nails, and me doing my makeup. Wow, did I ever do my makeup. To hell with what colors would look best on me, I wanted what was popular. This meant blue eye shadow and eye liner and red-as-hell lipstick over my mouth full of braces. I also got my hair done and had the hairdresser put a sprig of baby’s breath in it. Perfection.
I was picked up, of course, in a limo.
When Anthony came to the door you would have thought he was seeing the Virgin Mother Mary. He wiped away tears, telling me I looked like an angel.
I was nervous about the dance, because Anthony was a junior and I was a freshman. Homecoming was for juniors and seniors only, so my circle of friends wasn’t going to be there. I was only there because I was dating an older man.
I don’t recall much about the dance itself, I think it was pretty typical of any other high school dance - crepe paper, streamers, a DJ, etc. I do remember slow dancing with Anthony and feeling very special, like I was in a club that other friends of mine didn’t get to be in. I also remember all of Anthony’s junior and senior friends being very nice to me, taking me under their wing and making me feel included and part of the group.
I was just as Anthony had nicknamed me - a princess. Especially on this amazing homecoming dance night.
|Homecoming dance, not child bride.|