Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue


Fr. Mike Meets Hot Chick In Bar (or something like that)

posted by Beyond Blue

mike%20and%20vickie3.jpeg
Below is Mike and Vickie’s love story–the details about how they met (when, ahem, Mike was a priest). It’s a beautiful and refreshing tale, and my favorite chapter of our book on marriage. Please don’t judge him too harshly for his behavior in New York. When I see the way he looks at his wife, I know that he was certainly not meant for the priesthood.
Michael: It was 1968, the year Kennedy and King were killed, the year of burning cities and the Chicago convention. Anything was possible. Even love.
Vickie: I had just moved to New York from Mississippi. I was just out of college, and excited about my first job and life in the big city. On October 25th my roommate Holly and I moved into a tiny apartment in Greenwich Village, our first home away from home. That night Holly suggested we go down the block to a sing-along place called Your Father’s Mustache. I was tired but decided to tag along.
Michael: I was 28, and a Catholic priest. Ever since I was a kid, I had always wanted to be a priest. I wanted to help other people and make them happy, especially children. As a seminarian I dreamt of burning myself out for Christ before I was 40, just like Don Bosco, my favorite saint. When I started to do that, I had second thoughts. I had gotten back to the rectory late at night when my friend Artie called from New York. He was on vacation, and asked me to hop a plane and join him.
“I can’t,” I said, “I’ve got work to do.”
“When’s the last time you had a vacation?” he asked. “Come on. You can see some plays. You love plays. It’ll be fun.”
He talked me into it. When I got to the hotel, the desk man gave me a note. It said, “Meet me at Your Father’s Mustache. In the Village. Seven o’clock.”
Vickie: At the time, believe it or not, two guys wanted to marry me. All my life all I ever wanted to be was married, have children, and live in a house with a white picket fence. But I couldn’t decide between them. One was my high school sweetheart: he was kind and gentle. The other was my boyfriend from college: he was strong and confident. I remember once asking my mother: “How will I know when I’m really in love?” She said, “You’ll know, and you won’t have to ask.”


Michael: I got to Your Father’s Mustache at seven. Artie wasn’t there. I stood on the sawdust floor near the back and waited. A band in the front played banjos and a tuba and piano, and everybody in the room drank beer and sang songs like Those Were the Days, My Friend, I Thought They’d Never End. I looked at my watch. It was 7:30. Where was Artie?
I just stood there and watched everyone having fun. I noticed two girls sitting at a table against the wall. One was blonde, the other brunette. They were both pretty but the brunette was stunning. She had long dark hair and wore a poncho like Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars. She was singing and swaying with such joy. I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
Vickie: My roommate Holly was blond and gorgeous, she could have been a model. I said to her, “There’s a guy near the bar, and he’s looking at you.”
Michael: And then I did something I had never done before. Here I was, a priest who had always kept the rules, and what did I do? I went and asked the bartender for a pitcher of beer. Then I walked over to the table and asked the girls, “Would you like some beer?” I couldn’t believe I was doing this. It was all in slow motion.
Vickie: I couldn’t believe it. He sat in front of me.
Michael: She was magic. I noticed that her eyes were different colors. One was hazel and specked with green, and the other a cloudy blue.
Vickie: When I was a baby I fell on a glass toy. It broke and cut my eye. I was blind in that eye and looked like a freak. When we played games, I was always the bad guy or the monster. As I got older, adults looked at me and recoiled. I used to beg God for a miracle so I could look like everybody else. Sure, I had two boyfriends but I didn’t know how anyone could really love me the way I was.
Michael: She was beautiful. Still is.
Vickie: He was handsome. I asked him what he did.
Michael: I told her, “I’m a priest.”
Vickie: I roared! I had never heard that before! The best thing was, I knew he was telling the truth.
Michael: I loved it that she laughed. Artie came in and sat next to Holly and they sang while Vickie and I tried to talk over the music. After half an hour I asked her if she’d like to take a walk.
Vickie: We walked around the Village for hours. I told him about my eye and about my boyfriend dilemma and how I didn’t know what to do. I had grown up Catholic and went to Catholic schools but Michael was totally different from any priest I’d ever met. I didn’t see him as a priest. He was just the kindest person I’d ever known.
Michael: It was one of those beautiful October nights when the air is crisp and clean and you can see things a mile away. Vickie told me that one of the guys who wanted to marry her was strong and that the other one was gentle, and that she couldn’t make up her mind between the two. She was so good. I said she deserved to find someone who had both qualities.
Vickie: And I thought: I’m looking at him.
Michael: I told her how I loved working with kids but how it was also lonely and that I’d been thinking about what it would be like to marry someone and have children of our own. We walked and talked until about two in the morning. I walked her home.
Vickie: We climbed the stairs, sat on a step and talked some more. I was thinking of what my mother told me: “You’ll know and you won’t have to ask.”
Michael: Then I asked her something I hadn’t asked since Sally Brightman in ninth grade. I asked her, “May I kiss you?”
Vickie: It was the perfect ending of a perfect night.
Michael: The next day I took a subway to her office and asked the lady upfront to give her a package. Vickie had told me how she grew up living over her father’s bakery in a small town so I wrapped up a chocolate-covered doughnut with a red rose in a gift box.
Vickie: Everyday at noon for three days he came with a different present; we had lunch on a park bench or in a diner that was as romantic to us as the Taj Mahal. And every night we went out. One night he took me to Man of La Mancha, and I thought that he was Don Quixote and I was Dulcinea and that we were living an impossible dream.
Michael: I remember after the show, walking down Broadway, holding her hand, and thinking, “I am walking through a neon colored dream with this beautiful, wonderful girl. I can’t believe this is happening, but I could do it for the rest of my life.” Remember that orange chiffon mini-skirt you wore?
Vickie: It was pink.
Michael: I remember orange.
Vickie: You always do.
Michael: On the fourth day she had a touch of the flu and couldn’t go to work. I got her a tuna fish sandwich, her favorite food, and went to her apartment. I sat by her bedside and told her a story.
Vickie: The Tattooed Boy.
Michael: It was a story I had first told years ago to kids at Angel Guardian Orphanage. I loved to tell them stories. I’d just start and a story would come out. This one was about Christopher Holiday, a boy with bat’s ears and bat’s tears and a little clown’s frown. Envious people had tattooed him because they were afraid of the love and goodness in him. Christopher wore a clown’s suit and worked at a freak show. One night he decided to run away. But before he left the carnival grounds, he came across another little boy, sitting on the edge of the carousel, who also wore a clown’s suit and looked just like him – with bat’s ears and bat’s tears and a little clown’s frown! He asked the boy, in astonishment, who he was. The boy was confident and loving and said to him, “Look into my eyes! Look into my eyes and you’ll see who I really am!”
Christopher looked into his eyes. And what he saw was a perfect image of himself. He began to love himself the way the boy on the carousel first loved him.
That’s how Christ loves us, I told the kids, and that’s how it was with Vickie and me.
Vickie: I didn’t want him to go back to Chicago.
Michael: I told her, I’ve got All Saints Day on Sunday. I have to go back. We have to be mature. This is crazy. We mustn’t call each other for a month.
Vickie: He called me the night he got back. A year later, in October, we got married in a church in Greenwich Village.
Soon after we married I got an infection in my eye. The bad eye was causing problems and had to be removed. The eye was removed and I received an artificial one that made me look just like everyone else. It was another gift from God. All my dreams, all my prayers, had come true.
Michael: You don’t have a white picket fence.
Vickie: We have each other and two wonderful sons, and we’re one. We don’t need the fence.
Michael: Life hasn’t always been easy, but we’ve had no more than three or four quarrels in 32 years. And none lasted more than a few hours. I can’t remember when the last one was.
Vickie: There’s nothing worth arguing about.
Michael: We’ve grown into that wonderful stage where we think each other’s thoughts and feel each other’s feelings and say the same things at the same time. There’s always an uneasy thought lurking in the back of our mind that someday one of us will get sick and die, but we believe that what is good and beautiful in us will always live and always be together as one.
Vickie: I just live moment by moment and am grateful to God every day.
Michael: And I still can’t believe how lucky I am. First you fall in love. That’s the exciting part. Then you learn to love. That’s the hard part. Finally, you simply love being loving. That, by far, is the best part.
Vickie: You taught me how to love others.
Michael: You taught me how to love myself.
Vickie: It’s all the same.
Michael: Are you sure that dress wasn’t orange?
Vickie: It was pink.
Michael: It was beautiful.
Vickie: Yes. It still is.



  • Larry Parker

    What a story!!!
    Two small but important questions:
    1. How did process of Mike leaving the priesthood carryout, after he realized so quickly after his visit to New York that Vickie was a soulmate and not an infatuation out of loneliness?
    2. How did he know, since both approached him and he approached both of them, to go to Vickie and not to Holly? Or was it just the twinkle in Vickie’s eyes, as he said? (And what’s Holly doing today?)

  • Cully

    What a Beautiful story! G-d is in the details… like Vickie’s Mom told her, “You’ll know, and you won’t have to ask.”
    When I was in grade school, the principle was a nun called Sister Edward Francis. She was the best – loving, fun, and always there for us. When I was in the 6th or 7th grade she left… she didn’t just leave the school she left the order and got married and had kids (lucky kids!!).
    G-d has plans for us and we need to listen to our hearts. We are all blessed because of good people, everyday (lay) people who listen to their hearts and bring G-d’s love to everyone they touch.
    Blessings!

  • Margaret Balyeat

    Do you know what REALLY “got” me? the fact that what Vickie thought of as her “freakish flaw” was what Mike found to be most beauriful ab her appearance and what truly drew him to her (Physically, I mean) Forgice the pun, but what a PERFECT” illustration of “Beauty isin the eye of the beholder.”!! Their story moved me to the point that my own eyes filled with tears.

  • Priscilla

    “First you fall in love. That’s the exciting part. Then you learn to love. That’s the hard part. Finally, you simply love being loving. That, by far, is the best part.”
    Wow. Words of wisdom for me to impart to my teenage sons. Pithy and profound. And to the point. Perfect!
    Thank you Vickie and thank you Mike!

  • http://angelguardianorphanage.com/ Sylvia

    Wow, I was on my googling path again about Angel Guardian Orphanage in Chicago IL and came across this link. I am an AGO Alumni, I am the administrator of the A.G.O. website.
    Every so often I google us to see if there is anything new related to AGO. What a beautiful and touching story, so glad I came across your link!
    if you would like to reconnect with any of our alumni, feel free to email me anytime, I would love to hear more!
    With Respect
    Sylvia Huante

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