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It's my Valentine's Birthday

Pen & Ink, Red and gold house, bear overlooking

Arthur and I met on May 11, 1973, the day after the New York Knicks won the NBA championship. Things haven’t gone well for the Knicks since then but Arthur and I are doing fine.

I am often asked how I, coming from such a religious background, with a deep commitment to the Bible and Jesus, could marry a Jewish man? Arthur doesn’t get it either. When I tried to tell him about my relationship with Jesus he replied,

“I don’t know, Barbara, I felt a lot better about you when you talked this way about Elvis.” Irreverent, yes, but his skepticism made me look at my faith from a different angle and I came away with a stronger, clearer commitment.

When it was time to introduce Arthur to the family I made a date to meet my father at a steak house near Madison Square Garden.

Arthur arrived first and called me. Knowing Dad’s punctuality, I said, “My father’s there--go introduce yourself and I’ll get there soon.”

“How will I know him?”

“He looks like me and he wears glasses.”

Mom later told me Dad’s account of that meeting;

“I’m sitting at the bar thinking ‘I’ve gotta meet another artsy boyfriend, a theater directer, ah jeez. Why couldn’t she pick someone like that young man over there--blue blazer, polo shirt, neatly trimmed mustache, looks like an athlete?’ And at that moment the athletic young man walks up to me and says, ‘Are you Barbara’s father?’ ”

In the scramble to free their right hands for a shake red wine was spilled on Dad’s tie but that didn’t matter. By the time I got there they were deep in conversation about sports and the movies.

I once said to my brother, Alan, “Don’t you think the secret of a long marriage is a high tolerance for irritation and boredom?” and he said,

“Yes, and inertia.”

I do have one tip. Arthur and I have had terrible fights, and we’ve gone to bed angry plenty of times, but we never let a fight interfere with our social life. If we had plans we’d put on happy faces for our friends. Eventually he’d say something funny or interesting, I’d remember what it was I liked about him and the fight would be over.

He has brought wonderful gifts to our marriage, like standing up for your friends, abhorring gossip, being true to your word, honoring your work. These weren’t new concepts to me but Arthur brought them into a new light. Possibly the most important thing he's taught me is, “Let it go.” Troubles just roll off him and they’re forgotten. It’s hard for me to quit chewing over old resentments, but it’s helpful that Arthur never pours gasoline on fires and his humor never fails us.

When my nephew was six he told me; “When I was little I saw Arthur in his bathing suit and I said, ‘Arthur, how come you have so much hair on your chest?’ and without looking up from his book he said, ‘Because, Danny, I used to be a bear.’ And for a long time I believed him.”

Pen & Ink portrait of a bear

I'm not the only one who finds Arthur irresistible, Here he is with our nieces, Katie and Rachel.

Uncle and nieces, Man with two little girls in his lap

February 17, 2019

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