Before I get to the story of our engagement, I just had to share these 3 little gems!
Denise and I were keeping busy and having fun on the nation's Gulf Coast! She was looking for a job in Sarasota, and I was focusing on my radio show. Coming around the corner....her birthday! I made sure to get her a really nice present, make my famous pasta w/homemade garlic sauce for dinner, and run to the supermarket bakery for a cake with candles! Dinner was a big success and Denise loved her gift (earrings). I went into the kitchen, lit the candles and came out with a big New York style cheesecake for dessert. Denise looked at me and started to cry. "What's wrong?", I asked. "I don't like cheesecake!", she replied. I thought everybody from Philly or New York liked cheesecake. It just upset Denise that she could be spending the rest of her life with a guy who didn't know her likes/dislikes in the dessert world. BTW, we both joke about ordering cheesecake when we're out to dinner...
Denise thought it would fun to come with me one morning and watch me work at the radio station. UGH! She's not the first person to float that idea. Radio is still one of the few places where people are in awe at the production and delivery of a morning show. 95% of people abandon the idea when they find out that "wake-up" is at 4am! I was worried, but the little trooper was up and ready to rock in the wee-hours of the morning. We jumped into my Toyota Corolla and sped towards my pre-radio station stop; the 7-11 convenience store. I couldn't start the day without my large HOT coffee, newspaper and Hostess fruit pie. Denise and I pulled up to the station at 4:45am. I asked her to hold my coffee while I got the paper from inside the car. She put the 20oz cup of joe on the bumper of the Corolla. When I shut the car door, the coffee (IN SLOW MOTION) began to fall towards earth!!!!! We stared while gravity stole my piping hot addiction. I gave Denise the meanest look EVER! Seriously... I gave her the look of danger!! She actually drove (stick shift) my car back to the 7-11, and returned with a fresh cup. That incident occured in '89, and Denise has never again suggested going with me to work.
And finally, in '89 the founder of one of America's largest chains of restaurants had listened to my morning show and became an instant fan. He (no name) reached out to the radio station and wanted to meet for dinner. At the time his restaurant (guess!) was only on location #3. I brought Denise to join us and things started out OK. He was a fan of radio and began listing his favorite stations and personalities. I was feeling very insecure about working in the very small radio market of Sarasota.....having just been in the VERY large city of Philadelphia. I started getting edgy every time he (still not telling) mentioned jocks in larger cities. In fact, I started bad-mouthing them....for no good reason! He couldn't mention a single radio personality w/o me calling them names. In fact, it got downright uncomfortable. When dinner was over, Denise and I got into the car, and the can of whoop-ass was opened. She blasted me for being such an insecure jerk. I remember her yelling like it was yesterday....AND..she was right. I learned a valuable lesson that night. And I never heard from that restaurant guy ever again. BUT....we occasionally eat at the concept he created. There are locations all over Houston...and the entire country!