Theirs was a short romance — a three-week fling in the summer of 1978 that was long tucked way in the memory books.
But 35 years later and with the help of Facebook, Gay Cioffi and Mark Obenhaus are now husband and wife.
Cioffi, a 62-year-old arts school director, and Obenhaus, a 67-year-old filmmaker, were married on Aug. 3 in the Hamptons, not too far from where they first met.
Then a 27-year-old artists' assistant, Cioffi met Obenhaus, who was 32, while jogging along Gibson's Beach in Sagaponack, N.Y. They told The New York Times their tryst was not particularly torrid — "just talking, talking, laughing," driving around in her Fiat and spying on Obenhaus' neighbors: Nora Ephron and Carl Bernstein.
The pair parted ways at the end of the summer and lost touch, married others and had children. While they each occasionally recalled their summer fling in photos and journals, both were content to leave it as a fond memory.
But news of Ephron's death in 2012 made them think of each other again, and Cioffi, now separated, with a little coaxing from her niece, took to Facebook to track Obenhaus down, reports the Times' "Vows" section:
“She says, ‘You need to find this guy, you need to look him up, see if he’s on Facebook,’ and I say, ‘No, no, no, no, no, no, no,’” Ms. Cioffi recalled. “It is such a cliché to look up old boyfriends and then be disappointed, and it was so perfect; I don’t want to disturb what to me was this perfect memory.”According to the Times, they "engaged in a furious round of letter writing, via Facebook":
But Ms. Cioffi did find him on Facebook. His beard was gone, his shaggy brown hair was grayer, and his cheeks were more sunken, but she was again drawn to his blue eyes. She made a “friend request” and promptly panicked. But this lasted only for the four minutes that it took Mr. Obenhaus to respond: “So nice to see your name appear. I thought of you and that summer we met when Nora Ephron passed. I have a home not far from where we met and was at Gibson Beach this weekend. I hope we can catch up some day. Life is too short, as they say.”
Then Mr. Obenhaus asked if he could see her on a scheduled trip to Washington. She let two days pass with no response.A few dinners, and a month of Facebook and phone call conversations later, they got engaged:
“There was just this feeling of not wanting to risk losing this magical memory,” she said. “But then it was like, ‘Of course, I’m going to have dinner with him, how can I resist?’”
That Sunday morning (a month after they first made contact) they were having a hard time saying goodbye. “Sort of awkwardly, I said to her, ‘So are we going to get married?’ And she looked at me and said, ‘Definitely,’” Mr. Obenhaus said. “I sort of fumbled, ‘Well, people don’t.’”
Ms. Cioffi is no-nonsense. “And I said, ‘Well, people do, so why don’t you think about the question you really want to ask me,’” she said. “And so then he said, ‘Will you marry me?’”
Mr. Obenhaus said, “And she said, ‘Definitely.’”
- Arts & Entertainment
- Mark Obenhaus
- Nora Ephron