She had me at “Hello!”

We met and fell in love. And all she did was open the door.

Here’s how I got to that front door.

“Do you want to go on a blind date?” asked my client Jared. “My friend has a girlfriend coming to town from Crested Butte. Her name is Connie. Why don’t you join us tonight? You will like her. It will be fun.”

“I would love to!” I said with a bit too much enthusiasm for a blind date.

Unbeknownst to Jared, I was in a bit of a mess when he asked. I was installing the software his Denver CPA firm had purchased. Jared attended our week-long training in Atlanta. Now I was in Denver to install the software and get him up and running.

As part of the sale, we agreed to do some modifications to the software to better suit their needs. I programmed these changes just before I left the office. I didn’t have time to test them, and as fate would have it, they didn’t work. The software was buggy and unreliable.

There I was trying to find the bugs while talking to Jared in a cheerful and upbeat demeanor. But I couldn’t speak and think at the same time. And I didn’t want to tell him the program he paid for wasn’t working.

So the blind date invite at 5 PM was a total reprieve from the stress of the situation. It was my out, and I took it. Little did I know this quick escape would put me on a new course for the rest of my life.

She was so kind and inviting. She simply said, “Hello.”

There was something about Kathy which was different from any girl I had ever met before. She projected a lightheartedness. Kind. Fun. Beautiful.

I immediately wanted to get to know her.

I wanted to go to dinner and talk about her and her life. I wanted to talk about my life and my dreams. I wanted to laugh with her. I wanted to dance together. I wanted to hold her and tell her we would be great together.

And all she said was, “Hello.”

These were all the thoughts which raced through my mind. Then Jared said, “Kathy, this is my friend Charlie. Charlie, this is Kathy.”

Kathy invited us into her house. Her dad and mom were playing chess in their living room. I remember it like it was yesterday. I walked in and stood before them. They both looked at me, and I stuck out my hand and said, “Hi. I’m Charlie Paparelli. Nice to meet you.”

Kathy then told Jared and me, “Connie never made it to Denver. So we’ll have to have fun without her.”

The next thing I knew, Kathy, Jared, and I were in Jared’s old, beat up red Ford Bronco. It was one of those trucks where you bounce all over even while driving along a well-paved road. Off we went to a western place for dinner…but I discovered upon arriving it also had a band. My initial vision was falling into place.

The rest of the night, Kathy and I proceeded to ignore Jared. She was as interested in me as I was in her. It didn’t take long for me to realize she thought I was terrific. This closed the loop of love at first sight. We were both struck the same way when she greeted me at the door.

The next day she and Jared took me skiing at Winter Park. It was the first time I ever went skiing. It was such a wonderful day. I am sure at the end of that day Jared knew he had lost any chance of keeping Kathy as his girlfriend. He saw the way we looked at each other.

This first date happened in mid-November 1976. Kathy and I continued to talk via long-distance. We also fell into frequent letter writing. In those letters, we shared our dreams and the love which was blossoming between us.

She got permission from her parents to have me visit for Christmas. She gave me the greatest present ever for a guy from Jersey City, New Jersey. It was my first pair of cowboy boots. Not those fancy ones you see on dudes. No, these were working boots. The kind real cowboys wear.

I stayed for the week.

Every day we were together, and we enjoyed every second. It was crazy. We just could not get enough of each other. I’ll never forget that feeling of being in love. The fun, the excitement, the physical attraction, the pure giddiness of it all.

One snowy night, I think it was New Year’s Eve, we went out for our final date of my visit. She dressed in a green velvet gown, and I wore a suit and tie. We went to a fancy hotel with a rooftop restaurant and held hands across the table throughout the meal. It was so romantic.

We then went to a bar for a cocktail. It was there we got into a bit of an argument. In the midst of it all, I said, “Let’s get married.” She stopped and just stared at me. Then she said, “What did you say?”

“Will you marry me?” I asked.

“Yes!” she said.

That ended the argument.

Five months later on May 21, 1977, we married in Denver. Jared was one of our groomsmen. We honeymooned in Hawaii, returned to Denver, then packed up all she owned in her Saab. We drove to Atlanta to start our new life as husband and wife.

That was forty-two years ago, and she is still fun, and we are still crazy in love.

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3 thoughts on “She had me at “Hello!”

  1. You’re marriage is amazing! In 30 years, I’ve never seen either of you ‘look to the left of to the right’. Congratulations and Happy Anniversary!

    Regi Campbell

  2. That’s the best e-mail I have ever seen from you, Charlie. The rest is just nest-building.

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