It’s one word that can mean either good news or bad. I was hoping this wasn’t bad news but, honestly, Cookie didn’t sound that excited saying it. She was calling me all the way from Long Island after twelve hours of an aviation marathon: a 6:30 a.m. flight out of LAX, a change of planes in the Midwest, one and a half hours on the tarmac in Minneapolis, and almost an hour circling high above the five boroughs of New York, waiting to land.
“Somebody gave me five valium to take with me on the trip, thank God! That’s all I’ve had in my stomach all day.”
“No, no. But I was tempted, believe me.”
She sounded terrible. Way past disappointed.
“What happened?” I asked her.
I knew the plan: Cookie had free miles and was using them for a flight from LAX to JFK, and a trip to spend some time with Marty. Marty was going to meet her at the airport and pick her up. She was planning to spend a week on Long Island, staying at a Best Western located midway between her niece’s apartment and Marty’s house. It would be a week for visiting her family, and getting to know Marty again after 55 years. I also knew that if she’d been nervous in L.A about doing this she wasn’t about to disembark from that plane looking calm and poised, like Audrey Hepburn.
“It was horrible!!!” she wailed at the other end of the phone. She was exhausted. “I’ve been up since 3, and I didn’t sleep too good a couple of nights before.” I could hear her at the other end trying to pull herself together.
Who the hell wanted to feel this vulnerable? She wasn’t a kid anymore; who had the energy for this? She wasn’t that fifteen-year-old with stars in her eyes coming off of that plane. And she could see by the look on Marty’s face that was who he had expected to meet at the airport.
“Today was a scratch,” she said, using a term from horseracing when a horse has to be removed from a race. “Let’s just say it was a scratch.”
Maybe this was a bad idea flying 3,000 miles so she and Marty could meet up. There was just too much pressure riding on this New York rendezvous. Who knew it would feel this wrong? After 55 years the love story of Marty and Cookie was getting another shot. A chance encounter on the internet (Cookie looked him up on Facebook) connected the two of them for the first time since she was 15 and Marty was 22, when the Army took him away, and the distance and age difference had split them apart. Now, years later, the two had finally reconnected through Facebook, emails, and the phone. Marty and Cookie had rekindled a spark while 3,000 miles away from each other: Marty, living on the east coast, and Cookie (a transplanted New Yorker) now living in L.A. Their new love story (sort of) wasn’t without complications: They were thousands of miles away from each other, and Marty was already taken. He was married, but it was a marriage of convenience. They were both too old and set in their ways to break apart. But he had his life, and his wife had hers. So what did that mean to Cookie and Marty? They both agreed that they should meet in person and see what would happen.
“I walked off of that plane, and there he was, and I could just tell from the look on his face that he was disappointed,” Cookie told me.
They had both exchanged current photos through email. And both had seemed content with how they now looked in this 21st century.
“Yeah, but it’s different when you’re staring up close, face to face. I didn’t look my best, trust me.”
I tried to cheer her up. Maybe she was wrong. Sometimes we’re so anxious our mind plays tricks on us, and it’s so easy to sabotage ourselves when we want something so much.
“Let’s put it this way: It wasn’t exactly love at first sight.”
“What were you wearing?” I asked her.
There’s that word again.
“Black capris and a white t shirt that was clinging to all the wrong parts of my body.”
“My hair was a mess. My make-up was all over the place. I could just see on his face that this whole thing was one big mistake.”
All Cookie wanted to do was to get to the motel and climb into bed and sleep. Instead, Marty took her out to a restaurant for hamburgers. They talked, but the words didn’t come as easily as they did when traveling 3,000 miles across phone lines. And when the meal was over all Cookie wanted was for Marty to drive her to the motel. After she had checked in (as quickly as possible), Marty walked her to her room, and Cookie told him she wanted to be alone.
“You’re not expecting to come in, are you?” she asked him.
Marty shook his head no – maybe a little too quickly for Cookie’s taste. “It was a scratch,” she told me again just in case I hadn’t heard her the first time.
“You need your rest,” Marty told her, and Cookie agreed.
“Maybe it’ll be better tomorrow?” I suggest to her.
“It couldn’t be any worse.”
(TO BE CONTINUED: Tomorrow (8/10/12) – A Love Story (Sort of): The New York Rendezvous (Pt. 2) 7 p.m. EST, 6 p.m. CST, 4 p.m. PST)
(If you’d like to read the earlier segments of the Cookie & Marty story, follow these links…