How I Met Your Mother/Grandmother…Really!


John and Al-1966

…how do two young high school coaches new to LA spend a day off?  You’re right…playing basketball at the Pasadena Athletic Club.  On Washington’s birthday of 1967, my bud John and I were a bit parched after running full court for four or five hours and we were enthusiastically seeking refreshment whereupon we stumbled into Shaps…a watering hole on Colorado Blvd. in east Pasadena.  What a find, and here we were without a shower or a change of clothes. As we approached the bar, it was apparent that we accidentally discovered the mother lode of ‘romantic opportunity.’ The joint was crawlin’ with babes and we thought it best to drink a quick beer or two and head for home since we were not prepared to play in that venue that night, but we were comin’ back for sure.

“Lounge Lizard Theory”…aka The Art and Science

 To The Science:


While quaffing our first brew, we did our usual reconnoiter and had the establishment thoroughly scoped out in less than a minute…as usual.  This is an acquired skill which incorporates scientific method and chronology.  All ‘lizards’ instinctively know this:

  1. Determine the ratio of men to women.  If the percentage of women is less than 40%, then drink up and ‘boogaloo’ on the next venue.
  2. Assuming you in a 50-50 environment or better, the next task is to assess the number of 10s, 9s, 8s and 7s. Remember, the whole world is one great big gymnastics meet (old scoring rules).  If that number is 50% of 50%, you’re still in business.
  3. Of that population, determine how many are ‘attached.’  If more than 25% of that 50% appear to be with someone…move on.
  4. You are permitted to approach a 6 only under two specific circumstances…that is, the hour is mid night or later, and/or you’ve not connected with any 10s, 9s, 8s or 7s in a meaningful way.
  5. Only one specific condition permits you to reach into the 5s…and that requires some iteration of ‘incapacity.’
  6. And finally, there are extremely rare conditions which may permit a ‘lizard’ to even consider dipping below a 5.  It requires a ‘perfect storm’. The first is what Robin Williams describes as a physiological phenomenon where mother nature plays a cruel trick upon us by providing only enough blood to serve either a cognitive organ or a reproductive one…never both simultaneously…AND, it is ‘last call’…AND, you’re really in the bag.  ALL CIRCUMSATANCES ARE REQUIRED!

Now to the art:

Once identified, start with the 10s and attempt to make eye contact with your first choice.  If there is a positive connection, there is a possibility.  What constitutes that connection is a look back, or even better… a look back with a smile.  Assuming you have interpreted the ‘look back’ correctly, and it was not the result of your fly being open, spinach between your teeth or toilet paper stuck to your heel, you may proceed to the table, booth or stool and politely ask for a dance.  You must bring your drink to the ‘site’ for two reasons:  If left at the bar, the bartender will surely take it away as though you have relinquished your spot which would require you to buy another drink upon your return… or, if she accepts your invitation to dance, she may ask you to join her (or them) when the music concludes.  If so, you are now ‘happenin’.  If rejected, pick up your drink; pleasantly apologize with a smile for the interruption then relocate to a new perch since everyone at your former locus witnessed your failed attempt.  This is embarrassing.   However, once engaged in conversation, both agents will determine the eventual outcome. 

The Moment:

Nancy - 1965

Nancy – 1965

John and I spotted Nancy quickly.  She was sitting in a booth with her girlfriend Gail. ‘Art and Science’ promptly left the building.  There was only, WOW!  We grabbed our drinks simultaneously and without saying a word to each other made the mad dash. I won by a half step and asked this ‘10’ to dance. This was the first, last and only time I ever beat John at anything requiring some sort of athleticism.  He reminds of that regularly.  She was beautiful!  Bright blue eyes, a gorgeous face, blonde hair and a killer body were only starters.  When she stood and walked onto the floor…she was totally hot, but when she moved…fuggeddaboudit!  Nancy and I danced two entire sets and I could not take my eyes off her. 



It was getting late. I needed to be up early and ready to start throwing basketballs around with my first period class which started at 8:05 AM… but, I did manage to get her phone number.  I called two days later and we set up our first date.  We went dancing, then for a bite to eat.  During the early months of our courtship, she only ate little salads.  I was used to something much different having grown up in a ‘foody’ house with a ‘foody’ family and ‘foody’ friends. I knew we came from different cultures, but little salads?   After a few weeks of dating, our relationship was becoming somewhat established and comfortable and I asked Nancy to dinner at Heckle’s.  This was a great restaurant/bar in So. Pasadena where many of the LA Rams used to gather since Heckle Lynn, the owner, was also their equipment manager. The restaurant was known for prime rib and King Crab legs, and I sort of wondered just what Nancy would order.  Could it be she’s just gonna have a salad with a menu like this? We started with a drink and some appetizers.  Nancy then had her salad but followed with a prime rib (rib attached and hanging off the plate) and a fully loaded baked potato which was as big as the great outdoors. I watched this gorgeous, slinky, sexy thing clean those plates while she polished off about 8000 calories in one sitting.  Apparently, she was comfortable enough in our relationship to dine as she pleased, and I loved it.  I later learned that the ‘little salad thing’ was deliberate so as not to scare me into thinking I couldn’t afford to date her.  Boy, have times changed!


Nancy, Al and ’65 Jag XKE in ’68

This was a significant departure from dating the Philly girls who would generally ask several questions prior to even accepting a date, like…Where are you taking me? Are you taking me out, ‘nice’?  What shall I wear?  Where will we eat?  What kind of car do you drive?  No kidding!  This is not necessarily an indictment against the Philly ladies, but rather a result of my reputation for being broke…all of the time.  My early dates consisted of a bus/subway ride, a cheese sandwich at Linton’s (maybe) and then some possible ‘romance.’ The romance thing was always challenging due to the mode of transportation coupled with the dining experience.  Nancy was a refreshing departure in that she was very unassuming which is inconsistent with most 10s.  I loved that about her.


Nancy at Our Wedding-1971

After dating for five or six months, it became quite clear that I had strong feelings for this lovely 24 year old  She was a sweet as she was beautiful and this could possibly become something ‘meaningful and long lasting.’ Notice, I did not say ‘mmm mmm marriage.’    Here is where it gets complicated. I was a Philly guy living in the LA; I was working in my chosen profession, and I was making a decent living for the first time in my young professional life. They call it ‘living the dream’ and this was my Nirvana.  I too was 24 years old and hated the fact that I didn’t meet Nancy four or five years forward.  My Uncle Bill (one of mom’s brothers) was a confirmed bachelor living in NYC.  I wanted to be LA’s version of Uncle Bill.  I made my intentions clear, and reiterated it multiple times. “The Nance” said she was fine with this state of  ‘flux.’  She was very cool.  Have you ever had that feeling while arguing a point that you are given enough rope to hang yourself? Ummm!


Nancy and Nadia-1997

My resistance to marriage at that time was the result of a combination of issues: 

First was the issue of monogamy. This stems back to 1959 when Wilbert Harrison sings… “I’m goin’ to Kansas City; Kansas City here I come. They got some crazy little women there and I’m gonna get me ONE.”  I never understood why he wasn’t going to get ‘him’  SOME.  I mean if you’re goin’ to KC, you’re leaving somewhere to go somewhere else and…well, you get my drift. My view on this matter portended things to come.  In keeping with that theme, I thought it was my duty to do what mother nature intended and become a Johnny Appleseed in a non agrarian way. As one of the Philly Boys says, “it’s not me; it’s him” as he looks down.

Second:  I was admitted to UCLA’s doctoral program and wanted to complete my formal education prior to marriage and this was a four to five year commitment. 

Third: I would become an instant dad at age 24 with Danielle (Nancy’s daughter from a prior marriage) having just turned three.


…And at 45



Danielle at 5…

As the weeks turned into months and the months into years, I kept waiting for Nancy to issue the, ‘play me or trade me’ edict.  Fortunately for me, she never did.  After 4 and ½ years of dating I was ready and thankfully, Nancy never gave up on me.  In August of ‘71, I was teaching summer school at South Hills and training my team with evening workouts at our local community college, Mt. SAC.  I had three weeks off until the start of the fall semester and drove my ‘new ride’ (’71 Porsche 914) back to Philly to visit with my parents, family and buds.  In tow were three rings which I had custom made by one of our English teachers who was a gifted artisan…an engagement ring and two wedding rings.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them on that long drive east, but when I hit that PA Turnpike…it all became very clear to me.


Peace Out

I arrived at mom and dad’s and almost immediately called “The Nance” and asked if she would come to Philly for a long weekend.  After making arrangements to have Danielle stay with her folks, Nancy was on her way.  Upon arrival, we gathered bags, left the airport and stopped at a gas station in South Philly. I leaned over to the passenger seat and while shaking, proposed.  There was no doubt in my mind that this marriage would not only survive, but thrive in spite of the fact I am ‘no day at the beach.’  The timing was right.  I was ready to settle down; my graduate program at UCLA was concluding and I had just been promoted from Physical Education Department Chairman to Associated Student Body Director at the high school.  More important, I was ready to be a full time dad to Danielle whom I loved dearly.



We were married in November of ’71. Our financial status at that time was…Nancy had $500 in savings and I was $200 overdrawn. It wasn’t her $500 that was so attractive, but rather that small screwdriver she carried on her key chain. This was the best catch imaginable for a host of reasons not the least of which was and is the fact that I am a proud, self admitted techno/mechanical moron.  That screwdriver was ever so sexy ‘cause I could die of starvation in the canned food section of a market with an electric can opener in hand…plugged in.

Nancy and I will celebrate 42 years of marriage in November of ’13.  At a meeting of our beloved Covina Sunrise Rotary Club during the week of the 21st, Jon (The Finemaster) Pomeroy will publicly ask me two questions: “How many years of ‘wedded bliss’ have Nancy and you enjoyed?  He will then follow with, “How many years have you been married?”  I will answer, “ 42” to both questions….and will be severely fined.

Much more to say about “The Nance” in future installments, so stay tuned.


Filed under Featured Story

12 Responses to How I Met Your Mother/Grandmother…Really!

  1. Raquel

    VAVAVOOM!! Nancy was and still is gorgeous. A stunning young woman.
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories. You have a very keen eye, but truth be told…. Nance probably spotted you long before you spotted her. You were pretty studly yourself Alfie! Don’t stop the sharing. I really enjoy it.
    Love to you and Nance!

  2. Raquel…thanks for your kind words.


  3. To set the record straight, once Al spotted Nancy he turned to see if I noticed her. He realized that I did and started a mad dash across the dance floor to reach her. As we got close he elbowed me out of the way with those sharp boney elbows of his ( like he always did when we played hoops) and proceeded to ask her to dance.
    I have to say that was a great decision on his part, Al always was and still is a great dancer and they made a beautiful couple on the dance floor. This is probably the only time that I was really happy that Al beat me at anything.
    Still married, still happy and still one of my best friends
    I love you guys John

    • "Tina"

      Thank you, Alfie, for bringing back the precious memories of the 1960s for me. From the day you walked into the Personnel Office at CVUSD, we became instant friends and I am blessed that all these years later, we remain special friends. Looking at that picture of you and John is like reliving those days all over again. I attribute your guidance as Mike’s gymnastic’s coach in helping form him into the wonderful man he is today. It makes me so happy that you and Nancy have such a great relationship still after 40 some years and I feel fortunate that the 3 of us have remained connected. Love to both of you ♥
      PS A huge HEY to John

      • Alfie

        ‘Tina’…John and I have talked about you and our first meeting at the CVUSD office many times over the years. It was the one of the most significant events in my young adult life, and without your guidance, I’m not sure I would have been hired. Thanks for very valuable guidance throughout that process, but more important…thanks for being such a terrific friend for all of these years. And, I will certainly pass on your warm regards to both John and Nancy. Stay well, and keep those ‘wheels rollin’.

        • Tina

          Here I am again….just can’t get enough of “Alfieland.” What a way to end a day reminiscing old time and old friends. Gotta love the yellow jumpsuit ♥ and the little cowboy. Wishing you and Nancy a wonderful fall and holiday season. The “wheels just keep on rollin'”….Til next venture to Alfieland….Love ya, Tina

  4. Hey John…you got elbowed because I was always a full step slower than you and half a step slower than anyone else I had to guard. Wait ’til I post our Oklahoma story and our ventures West…Ha!!!


  5. Barbara Harris Cury

    So thats how it began. What fun! Great pix of the beautiful babe – long may she reign, and clearly she has. Fun reading and sounds so conversational. I feel like I am with you both. Don’t stop!

  6. Barbara…thanks for your comment. She still is a babe, huh?


  7. Ed Moses

    Please say hello to Nancy, friend of Gail Gale.
    I knew them well at Shaps. I ran the Wednesday Night dance contest and was a bartender there and was a friend of Rosemary Cole who lived with Nancy and Gail on San Gabriel Blvd. I was also friends with Jim and Pat Bellini. I’ve been a lawyer for past 40 years, still working at 78

    My office number is 626 224-3212

    • Alfie

      …I do remember you from Shaps. Both you and Frank Labarber (sp) ran Wednesday night. I'll pass on your good wishes to both Nancy and Gail. Both of the Bellino brothers have passed away. Great guys during a wonderful era…Lots o' fun!

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