Love at First Sight of Babka

I write for a regular feature called Love Stories for the Houston newspaper. It is a popular feature located on Page 2 of the Life Section every single Sunday. It is one of my favorite writing assignments because those that know my writing style understand how much I love to tell a story. These love stories are just the kind of storytelling I love most: the happily ever after. (I guess being raised on those fairy tales had something to do with that.)

My own love story is totally worthy of going in the Houston newspaper, but it won’t because I wouldn’t be allowed to write my own story and I wouldn’t let anyone else touch it. So instead, here it is for my Blog readers.

After a heartbreaking divorce and becoming a single mother to two teenage children, I wasn’t sure that romance would ever come again, and I wasn’t sure if I had the strength or energy to pursue it. Through my separation, I steadfastly refused to date, focusing on my children and making sure I was doing the healing required.

Loneliness finally set it when my divorce was finalized. My kids were doing great and busy with their friendships and social life and I was tired of being the third wheel with my friends on night’s out. I was the only single person among my group of friends. I didn’t want to go on a website and find someone, and I actually had no energy to pursue anything or anyone, so I just waited.

Soon dear friends were fixing me up and the dates lasted one or two times. One guy I lasted with for more than a few dates seemed to have potential, until I found out he was very screwed up.

One of the most annoying parts of the era of my singledom was that it was while I was on a heavy-duty Bar and Bat Mitzvah circuit for my friends’ children. At the evening affairs, I would sit there by myself while everyone danced with their partners. (And if you know me and how much I love to dance, this was REALLY difficult!)

A Bat Mitzvah was coming up for a very long-term and dear friend that stretched back to my childhood. Barbara, like me, relocated to Houston after college. I was excited that it was her daughter’s Bat Mitzvah but dreaded going alone. So I asked the guy I was dating to join me with Barbara’s permission.

After I found out what a mess he was, I decided it was not appropriate for him to accompany me with my children who would be attending. It didn’t feel right to introduce my children to him. So I cancelled him and he was not happy about it.

Barbara had lots of people coming from our hometown of Philadelphia, and she arranged for a hospitality suite for the out-of-towners staying at the hotel. I volunteered to bring a large tray of Babka. If you have ever seen the Seinfeld episode involving Babka, you know it is a Jewish pastry delicacy that people are willing to fight over.

Early Friday morning on the day the Bat Mitzvah weekend was to begin, I arrived with my tray of Babka. Barbara was there organizing things, and some of the out-of-town visitors were already milling about. Barbara stood with a tall, handsome man with a beautiful smile and they both turned to me as I arrived with my tray. She introduced me to Gary and he was smiling broadly. (I didn’t know if he was smiling at me or the Babka)

Barbara announced that we were both single, and left us to meet and chat for a bit. We hit it off instantly and I couldn’t wait to see more of him that weekend.

Was it love at first Babka sight? Was he that happy to see me coming in or was it the Babka?

I found out that Gary had also cancelled his date for the Bat Mitzvah weekend, like I had. This made our meeting seem almost destined!

He lived in Philly though, not exactly a great prospect for dating since I lived in Houston. He told me he was selling his business and he was free to move anywhere. That made things a little bit more interesting.

Despite having connected twice before the Saturday evening dinner-dance that weekend, Gary was seated at another table and he was being shy about asking me to dance, darn it.

Finally, he seized the opportunity with a slow number, and we talked, and connected – completely lost in each other’s eyes. The band’s music changed from the slow number to a faster one and while those around us danced appropriately to the actual music, we were oblivious, still locked in an embrace, slow dancing through a couple of fast numbers. We finally broke the trance when we noticed others around us staring at us.

They saw something special happening that evening, and Gary and I felt it too.

The rest of the story involves long distance dating, lots of emailed love letters back and forth, and finally Gary was able to move to Houston. Our children all approved the coupling, which sealed the deal. We married and moved Gary in, and yes, we have lived happily ever after ever since.

We purposely married in the year 2000 so it would be easy for Gary to keep track of our anniversary year since he is not good at remembering things like that! Now that we are finally and truly empty-nesters, the honeymoon is just beginning!


  • Love this! You two were destined to meet. So very happy for you!

  • Sooo happy for the Both of you!! Just Beautiful!!Found True love!!

  • Joy Lazar Peyster

    Loved this and all of your wonderful stories!!!!

  • Great love story. So glad you found true happiness.


  • Wonderfully written & fabulous story. Hoping for much love & happiness for you & Gary! Keep writing, as your prose is awesome!

  • Such a great story!!! Some things are just meant to be!!! Glad you both found your happily ever after!!!

  • Arlene. Love reading your blogs! I graduated Northeast HS 72. I know there were a lot from our class. Why can’t I remember you. Regards. Lynn Specter Snyder

    • Thanks so much for reaching out Lynn! We did have a big high school. Thanks for reading and friending me. Look forward to hearing from you again!

  • Arlene, I’ve been meaning to visit your blog to read this story all month. I thought you and Gary knew eachother from his Teplitzsky days at the shore. I totally believe in destiny and it certainly certainly was yours to be together. You make a wonderful couple and I am so glad that you found each other. I couldn’t help feeling really curious however of what happened in your first marriage.

  • I love this! soooo true–” a great date until I found out he was very screwed up.” LOL!!!
    What a beautiful story Arlene. thanks so much for sharing!

  • I love this story!

  • I absolutely love this story! And to think what might not have been had either of you brought your dates….

    I wonder how many times you passed Gary’s path prior to that bat mizvah weekend? Like, oh, I don’t know..visiitng friends in his neighborhood?:)

    I particularly love the dance story..

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