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Before You Were Born: It Always Felt Like Fate
Stories from our parents' surprisingly romantic youth: The memory that kept them together through years of bickering.
By Marguerite Kennedy
For as long as I can remember, every February 2, my parents have celebrated Bob Moon Day. This is a holiday that only exists in our family. You see, February 2 was the day my parents met at a party in Charleston, South Carolina, well over thirty years ago. Neither of them knew the host — the eponymous Bob Moon — although he looms large in the mythology of their whirlwind romance.
The annual celebration of the anniversary of Bob Moon Day would make a lot more sense if my folks had spent the ensuing decades as the kind of madly-in-love couple that always gets along. To the contrary — my parents are both wonderful people, but their relationship has been defined by endless cats-and-dogs bickering, to put it mildly (think: a Southern, goyish version of Frank and Estelle Costanza from Seinfeld).
But every year, February 2 marks a brief détente. They stop arguing for just long enough to sip some champagne, beer, and coffee, and make a toast to the memory of a guy they probably never even met. On a recent drive across South Carolina with my parents, I asked them to tell me, once again, the ancient story of Bob Moon Day.
So you met at Bob Moon's party, but neither of you knew the host. How did you end up there?
Dad: I'd recently moved back from Samoa, where I was working for the government. Some guy who was a friend of a friend of a friend of my friend Norm invited me to the party.
Mom: My friend Mary insisted that I come out with her, but I really didn't want to. I'd gone out every night that week, and, frankly, I was exhausted. But earlier that day, I'd gone to the beauty shop. "You can't waste your hairdo sitting at home alone!" Mary said. "Besides, you may meet your future husband!"
Come on. "You may meet your future husband?" I've always thought that part of the story sounded just a bit... made up.
M: I swear that's what she said! My hair appointment was originally scheduled for the day before, but the hairstylist was sick. If that appointment hadn't been changed, you probably wouldn't be here.
So, neither of you knew Bob Moon personally. Are you sure he existed?
D: Not entirely. If I met Bob Moon that night, I sure don't remember. But there were a lot of people at the party.
M: The way I was raised, a lady never goes to a party at the home of someone unless she's been properly introduced. So I was a bit nervous about just randomly showing up. Mary's hairstylist told her about the party, but I don't think she knew the mysterious Bob Moon, either. I think I met him, that night, but I can't recall what he looked like, or what his story was. It's funny. I don't remember a thing about Bob Moon, but I do remember exactly what I was wearing...
A plaid wool skirt, a white blouse, alligator boots. The ritual Telling of the Wardrobe happens every year on Bob Moon Day, remember?
M: I know, you've heard all this before. And your father was wearing a long-sleeve shirt with a dickey under it.
A dickey? Egads.
M: It was the '70s, remember? Anyway, I walked into the kitchen —
D: And she saw a tall, handsome man standing in the corner.
M: But I decided to come talk to you, instead.
D: Hardy har har! That's when she came up to me and begged me to marry her. She thought I was the best lookin' man she'd ever seen!
M: He was very tall, anyway. So he stood out.
D: And she was very petite. And about the prettiest girl I'd ever seen. Still is! Next to you, of course.
I know there are two versions of what happened next. One involves a bottle of champagne, and the other a bottle of beer. The debate has been raging for years.
M: I brought a bottle of champagne, and I was looking for someone to open it. Now, a lady never opens her own champagne, as you know. It's bad luck.
D: She knows good and well it was a bottle of beer, not champagne.
M: So I asked your father to open the champagne, and it spewed out it all over me.
D: It was beer! But I did spill it all over her. Accidentally, of course.