It was June, 1980, a friend asked me if I would take her place in a doubles-racquetball interclub tournament. I jumped at the opportunity mainly because I loved playing racquetball but mostly because I had never played at that club before. The guy she was dating, Jeff Taylor, was to be my partner. I had seen Jeff at our club but never met him.
Our 8-person team met at the club and started to warm up. Jeff and I planned our strategy and I told him, if he wanted a shot, just call it. For each doubles team, the tournament was the best two games out of three. We easily won the first game the opponents took the second and it was ‘game on’ for the third or rubber match as it’s called. I suppose Jeff’s competitive juices started to flow because he was taking his shots AND my shots. Finally, I had enough. I called a time out, pushed him up against the wall and threatened to ‘take him out at the knees’ if he took one more of my shots without calling it! This brought nothing but laughs from Jeff and everyone who was watching. You see, Jeff and I were the Mutt and Jeff of racquetball. He’s just over 6 feet and I’m just under 5 feet. In the end, everything ended well. We won our match, our team won their matches and Jeff’s knees were intact.
Afterwards, the team celebrated our victories with burgers and beers. After everyone left the restaurant, Jeff and I stayed and continued talking for what seemed like hours, discovering we had a lot in common. We were about to leave, when Jeff takes my hand and asked me to marry him! I pulled my hand away, stuttered, stammered and told him he was out of his mind for a number of reasons. First, he was dating my friend and second, we didn’t know anything about each other. I soon learned that Jeff doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. After telling Denise he wanted to date me, we started to see each other. I told him it would be casual and don’t ever again say the ‘marriage’ word. At that time, I was 6-years divorced after a nine-year marriage and resolved never EVER to get hitched again.
After two years of an ‘on-and-off’ relationship it was time for me to end it for reasons I’ve long forgotten. Our last date was to Longwood Garden. I was walking ahead of Jeff when I turned, looked at him in his gray cow-neck sweater and realized I loved him. I walked right up to him and asked him to marry me and he said yes! The next big decision – when. He wanted a June wedding, I said November. The deciding factor? The January XVIII Super Bowl between the Raiders and the Redskins. If the Raiders won, June was the month, November if the Redskins were victorious. The Raiders won 38-9. We got married in April…but that’s another story!
We had two weddings. The first, the official ceremony, was for immediate family. Jeff’s older brother Jerry, an ordained minister, officiated. The second ceremony held the next month was a ‘racquetball wedding’ sponsored by our racquetball club. Jeff and I wore matching sweat suits, the bridesmaids had flowers strung through their racquets, and Jerry again officiated except this time, he was dressed as a referee and the vows were written in racquetball terminology. A great time was had by all, including the friend who introduced us.
Call it fate, life or karma, whatever it was sure knew what it was doing crossing our paths. For the last 40+ years Jeff and I have raised a family, started a company, spoiled grandchildren, traveled the world. Each and every day we count all the blessings of being ‘us’. As for racquetball, it has been replaced by golf…now, I wish he’d take ‘my shots’.