1981 Brenda and Eddie

The diner opened in the 1950’s and was owned and run by a family from Greece. The father was an honest man who wanted to open a restaurant so his family would always have something to eat. The diner had a name, “Patras” named after the city where the Drakos family came.

The jukebox was in the back left corner of the room – right next to the Men’s and Ladies bathrooms and adjacent to the two payphones. On the wall surrounding this area were black and whites of James Dean, The Marx Brothers, Elvis and Humphrey Bogart. In these pictures they were all young and in control, or so it seemed. Facing this wall was another wall with some more black and whites of Marilyn, Garbo, Kathrine Hepburn and Lauren Bacall. The Beatles were peeking out of a bus and Bob Dylan was wearing wayfarers and holding a cigarette.

There was a smoking section in that area, in the back of the long diner. There were always people by the phone booths, talking and looking through the songs on the jukebox as if the choices of songs would magically change before their eyes. The songs hadn’t been changed nor updated since the mid-seventies.mhb_jukebox1

Eddie saw what he was looking for, dug into his pocket and pulled a quarter out and rolled it into the coin slot. Pressed “B52” and stood aside.

He walked towards Brenda and put out his hand. She took it and smiled. The piano began and then the voice, “Wise man say, only fools rush in…” He twirled her and then got on one knee, opened up a small box and proposed to his girlfriend with a emerald shaped 2 carat ring. Somebody unplugged the jukebox and the lights went dim.

“Brenda, you are the -”
“No!” She ran into the girls bathroom followed by her friends, Karen, Daisy and Fran.

“What happened out there?” Daisy asked her.
“I do not want to get married. I …”
The door burst open.
“What happened? I thought that…girls please go out and leave us alone.”
“No its OK they can stay. Eddie I do not want to get married. I really like you a lot and I have fun hanging out but I am not ready to settle down. I don’t even know how to respond to this – why didn’t we speak about this before?”
“Well, I thought you loved me, not ‘liked’ me and we have spoken about living together and raising a family.”
“We have but not in a realistic right-away, way. It was just talk, right? We are both 19 years old, I am planning on going back to school this fall and I am not ready or I do not want to just end my life right now.”
“I didn’t know marrying me and starting a family is ending a life.”
“It is – its ending my first chapter of my life and I am not ready to close that out yet, Eddie. Maybe I do love you, I know I care about you and love being with you. But I need to see the world, to learn about the world and the history…to see history and to witness my ‘here, now and future.’ I am sorry, but I am leaving now…please don’t call me. I am sorry…”

“What was Eddie thinking?” She asked Daisy.
“Maybe that he loves you and wants to spend the rest of his life with you?”
“But we never even spoke seriously about that. He knows I am going to college in the fall and that I want to travel the world before…”
“Brenda and Eddie – we always thought you guys would last forever, like the song.”
“In the song they got divorced.”
“You know what I mean.”
“No, I don’t. Daisy would you mind clearing everyone out I want to be alone for a couple of minutes.”
“Everyone out – I just saw a mouse.” Daisy smiled. “It works all the time.”

Brenda was embarrassed to have to walk through everyone to get out of the diner. She was crying and realizing that possibly the first chapter of her life had just ended and that frightened her. She sat alone in the bathroom and she felt a strange sensation within – a sense of loss but combined with a sense of freedom. She looked around and noticed the window, pulled it open, climbed out and left the diner. Leaving her friends and Eddie behind her along with her chapter “one.”

2006 Brenda

She knew where she wanted to go first.
Brenda had been living in New Haven since she went to Yale back in 1981, the fall after Eddie proposed to her. Her family had moved to Long Island in 1984 so she had not been back to Brooklyn since then. She had married in 1988 to a Pediatric Surgeon and they settled into a large home in Greenwich. They had four children within a four year period which almost drove her mad. The first two were planned – but when the twins came along it was anything but expected.
“Do you have twins in your family?” Her obstetrician asked as he examined her.
“Yes, but I don’t see them often, they live in New York.” She answered.
“Um, well, look a little closer at this sonogram and tell me how many heart beats you see.”
“Do you mean?” She fainted on the spot. When the twins came into the world in August of 1992 she thought she had it all figured out. The two elder ones would be in Kindergarten and Pre-School and she would be with the twins. What she didn’t anticipate was having a major case of “Post Postpartum Depression.” But like everything in life time marches on and in the words of her mother, “Don’t worry dear, be patient, remember, this too shall pass.” It did pass – the good times and the hard times and before she knew it she was caught up in the moving hands of the clock.

The years passed by and the kids grew up too quickly. She found herself questioning what was left for her once the kids all left the house. She was at home one Saturday morning when she began to go through the mail from the past week. As she went through the pile of bills and magazines she came upon a letter from her High School. She opened it and saw it was an invitation to her 25th High School reunion. She sat down and remembered who she had left behind and wondered how she had let it all slip from her mind somehow. She had spoken with Daisy for a couple of years after she left but lost touch since then, not really feeling a void there. She had heard from her mother and her sisters some gossip here and there but they had left Brooklyn and not looked back as well. Besides for some older relatives there was nothing to draw them back there and they rarely ventured there besides for the occasional funeral or wedding.

Brenda was still as beautiful if not more so than she was back when she was 19. Despite the few pounds put on by the pregnancies she retained a two piece bikini figure. She lay in bed that night thinking about the past and the people she had left behind. It was when she was driving the next morning and Elvis came on the radio sing, “Cant help falling in love” that she knew she would be going to the reunion.