love story: doris & barry

One of my absolute favorite things to do is ask couples about their love story.  I want to know how they met, why they fell in love, and what keeps them together.  I do it because I think love is what we live for and because, well, I want what they’re having.

I meet a lot of couples.  And all of them are only too eager to share their stories.  They light up when I start asking my questions.  They teach me so much.  Mostly, they give me hope.  So I started thinking I needed to do something about this rather than keep it all to myself.  Maybe it’s a documentary, maybe an online series, maybe something else (I’m open to suggestions).

I know I wouldn’t be the first to come up with an idea like this, but we all do things our own way; and, in this day and age, I think we need as many reminders and as much inspiration as we can get – I know I do – about love. So I figured I’d start cataloging the stories here.  And I’m so pleased to introduce you to couple number one: Doris and Barry Schwartz.

I met Doris and Barry at the New York Philharmonic, where I volunteer.  I was immediately captivated by their sense of playfulness around each other.  So I got them to tell me their story separately and then together:

It all started at a party in Brooklyn…

I pressed for the specific location, but neither of them could remember.  What they did recall, with utmost clarity, was this: Doris was 19 and had emigrated from Germany only a few months earlier. Barry overheard her telling a story at the party:  “It was so cold, my legs froze off.”  Barry (drink in hand) quickly quipped, “Well then, here’s a toast to those beautiful replacements.”

A bit later into the evening, Barry starts playing the piano.  Doris boldly sits next to him and asks him if he knows how to play the blues, which she loves.  Barry immediately concedes, and Doris is so moved by the music that she spills her beer onto Barry’s lap.  Then – as Barry fondly recalls – she starts to mop the beer off his thigh.

Six months later, they were married.  That was 55 years ago.  Their secret?  “I don’t think there is one,” says Barry, but it has to do with respect.  “And trust,” adds Doris.  “I would often go to Germany to visit family, and he never told me I couldn’t do that.  And he knew I had male friends over there that I’d have dinner with alone, but it was never an issue.  We trusted each other.”

They also know how to have fun.  A few years ago, they were sitting on a bench in Central Park when a woman walked over and told them she was doing a survey.  They gamely answered her questions, not really knowing what they were getting themselves into.  A week later, they got a call asking them to show up on a corner in Greenwich Village and follow the specific instructions they were to be given. Once there, they were ordered to “Get in that taxi with this 20 dollar bill.”  They did, when suddenly pulsing lights came on and the driver turned around to beam, “Welcome to Cash Cab!”

It’s no surprise Doris and Barry were chosen to be on a TV game show.  They play so well together, it’s only fitting that their enduring love story began with a joke and a song.  And they look amazing – I think I might want to do another piece just on their beauty secrets.

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