My Wedding to Carole Landi
by Rob Fried
I was never that interested in becoming popular with the girls…that is, until fifth grade, when I got my first real chance. That was when our teacher decided to teach us “social dancing.” The girls were hot for it, but none of the boys seemed interested. My mom, however, had been a dance teacher—not social dancing but more like Isadora Duncan-style. No matter; she knew a thing or two about dancing and offered to teach me the fox-trop and the rhumba. I quickly caught on and—BINGO!—I shot to the top of the popularity charts!
The two prettiest girls in the class were Carol Landi and Ruth Grindlinger, and both wanted to dance with me. Ruth showed a classmate her diary in which she described me in terms that, for the next sixty-plus years, I never again ascended to. I was her “dream-boat.” But Carole Landi was something else again. Outstandingly pretty, with freckles on her nose and a great smile. I was convinced I was in love with her.
But there was a problem. So was my younger brother, Marc. He was only in fourth grade, but he was quite good-looking. Some of the fourth and fifth grade girls decided to have some fun by pairing up Marc with Carole, and even planned a “mock wedding” for them. But I wanted to be the groom. So I convinced Marc that it would be too embarrassing for him to go along with the wedding plans.
In a memorable phone conversation that I can still distinctly remember, I called up Carole and after we both hinted around at it, I suggested that since Marc was no longer really interested, I should be the substitute. She readily agreed, and the ceremony was planned.
On the appointed Saturday afternoon, Carole showed up at our house with Ruth and a few other kids. She was arrayed in her mother’s white silk and lace wedding dress, and she looked dazzling. It was clear by then that we had a “crush” on each other as she whispered to me to be sure, after the ceremony, that we sat across the circle from each other when we played “Spin the Bottle” (in our version, the two people at opposite ends of the bottle when it stopped spinning would be obliged to kiss). I could hardly wait.
It was a great and glorious day. I have pictures of it. I was sitting on top of the 5th grade world. The only trouble was that I had no idea what to do next. I was totally incapable of “small talk,” of schmoozing with Carole or her friends. I was too young to offer to take her to the movies, and we had nothing like the “play dates” kids have today. So what was I to do?
Nothing, as it turned out. I remained totally in love with Carole Landi and equally incapable of acting on my feelings. So, over the weeks and months, we drifted apart. And early the following school year, in sixth grade, my best friend Bobby Silverman came by to set things straight. I was sitting on the hood of a car, I remember, and he stood with his foot on the bumper and said, “Let’s face it, Fried. You’re through!” He was right, of course.
Rob Fried attended P.S. 150, J.H.S. 125 and W.C. Bryant High. He was graduated from C.C.N.Y. with a B.A. in English Lit, volunteered with the Peace Corps in Africa, and received a Master's in English, and a Doctorate in Education.
A career in Education Reform as consultant and professor led to his appointment as the Executive Director of Upper Valley Educators Institute 2007-2013. He retired in 2013.
Now a part-time director of Arts Institute in Concord, NH where he and his wife Patricia have lived since 1976, he is an amateur painter, occasional columnist for the local newspaper, and has published five books on education. He’s married with two grown sons who live in Massachusetts.