Beshert | Really Glad We Didn’t Skip That Party

By | Jan 09, 2020
Beshert, Latest

I was not going to my college friend Jeannie’s engagement party. The 40-mile drive from Westchester to New Jersey was too long a schlep.

Plus, I knew the fellow party-goers would be the same ol’ members of my college newspaper, where I’d served as editor two years earlier. The thought of rehashing war stories and remembrances of things past through a haze of pot smoke turned me off. I had moved on.

But then party day, February 22, came and I changed my mind. Jeannie was a good friend. She’d succeeded me as editor. I had known her fiancé, Neil, since childhood. 

The party was as expected. After an hour of rehashing the past, I politely begged off and was at the door just as a woman arrived. 

We stood face to face and Jeannie introduced me to her friend, Wendy.

We shook hands, began to chat, chatted some more. And then laughed. Wendy also had changed her plan to miss the party, because she and Jeannie had been friends since junior high school. She’d come from Washington, DC.

I knew from the instant I met Wendy that she was someone very special. I knew, absolutely knew, after a few minutes that Wendy was a sweet and kind person with no pretenses.

We sat down on a loveseat that had seen better days 50 years before. Seated on a swayback sofa it was near impossible to get up. So ensconced, I became enraptured with Wendy. Witty, funny and we shared the same love of art, music, travel and my gosh, even burned toast.

It was some enchanted evening. Two Queens, N.Y., ex-pats lost in each other to the extent we didn’t notice we were the last guests. I drove Wendy to her dad’s home. I knew I was in love. 

Several trips by me to visit Wendy in D.C., where she was in grad school, and the feeling was mutual.

Marriage was on the horizon but over the rainbow. I soon began work as a reporter at a New Jersey daily, but an Amtrak commuter marriage was none at all. Then, out of the blue in 1978, Jeannie told me of a job opening at her company’s DC news bureau. I was hired. Wendy and I were married within a year.

Bar Harbor, Maine, 2014

That we met on February 22, my Grandma Clara’s birthday, my parents’ wedding day and my Bar Mitzvah day on my mom’s and dad’s 22nd anniversary, must be pure coincidence, right? We chose our wedding day, June 10th, randomly; it turned out to be my grandparents’ wedding day nearly 70 years earlier. Another coincidence… unless one accepts that beshert operates in strange and mysterious ways. 

Maybe it does; our zip code is 22206. 

Jim Ostroff and Wendy Shapiro have been each other’s best friend for 45 years and will celebrate their 41st wedding anniversary in June. They live in Arlington, Virginia, where they cater to every whim of their Calico cat, Tulip. Jim is a retired journalist who has covered the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court, international trade, technology, retail, and energy. Wendy works in building management on Capitol Hill. They are inveterate travelers, sojourning often in Europe.

Top photo: Jim and Wendy at the fated party. The photographer from Jim’s old college newspaper happened to snap them together the night they met.

3 thoughts on “Beshert | Really Glad We Didn’t Skip That Party

  1. Abbott Katz says:

    Nice reminiscence – from a colleague of yours at the Phoenix. I assume the Jeannie to whom you refer to is Jeannie Mandelker.

    Abbey Katz

  2. Jim Ostroff says:

    Hi Abbott! I do hope that all is well and going well for you and family.
    YES, It is the very same Jeannie Mandelker who has played a pivotal role in my life, twice. Perhaps this, too, was Beshert.
    All best wishes,

  3. Steven Jay Griffel says:

    Lovely recollections and reckonings. The lead picture is how I remember Jim.

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