It was just another typical Friday night down the Shore. My best friend and I were sitting inside his North Wildwood home when we started to plan out our evening: We’d grab something quick to eat at Sam’s on the Boardwalk and then come back to shower, have a drink and then head out for the night.
I had no idea this would be the night when I would meet my future wife. And trust me, she had no idea she would meet her future husband, either. To be honest, that night we first met, she wasn’t all that into me. Sure we talked and it was fairly cordial, but where I was seeing sparks she was seeing a fire extinguisher. She wouldn’t even let me buy her a slice of pizza outside of the bar and I was willing to spring for toppings.
All jokes aside, I almost didn’t go to the Shore that Friday night but my friend convinced me with the simple question, “What else are you going to do this weekend?” And it wasn’t that he was implying I had no life, it was the fact that there is nothing like the Shore. Even the most routine of evenings can turn into something special and I have memories—and a few scars—that will last a lifetime.
The day after our first encounter, I heard from a mutual friend that the lady I failed to impress had maybe liked me enough to possibly want to hang out again and she was going to pass along my number. A few days later we spoke on the phone and had a good conversation. I felt like I was maybe winning her over, but didn’t want to push my luck so I played it as cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce.
We talked off and on the rest of the week before she called me on a Thursday night to tell me that she was heading back to the Shore that weekend and she wanted to know if I was going to be down there as well. I replied smoothly, “What else am I going to do this weekend?”
We spent the rest of the summer dating and getting to know each other. I even got to buy her that slice of pizza. The next year she and her friends rented a house for the summer around the corner from my friend’s and we were largely inseparable. Early that fall we were engaged.
I always had a love affair with the Shore; I just never expected to fall in love there. It’s just another reason why it will always be a special place and why our annual Best of the Shore issue is so near and dear to me. And looking back on it now, I’m glad I didn’t have anything else to do that weekend.
Peter J. Proko
Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 3 (June, 2015).
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