THE MAN WITH THE CHOCOLATE BROWN EYES
I first saw Bob in January 1986, at a McGraw-Hill sales
meeting in St. Louis. I was invited to that meeting to
celebrate the success of the first edition of the college
text, Psychology, by Diane E. Papalia and Sally Wendkos
Olds, which was McGraw-Hill’s “Book of the Year.”
Bob, its marketing manager, was “Marketing Manager
of the Year.” The book had sold 50,000 copies in its
first year, which, in the world of college publishing,
is pretty much unheard of. At the meeting, Bob was
making a pitch to a group of sales representatives
about a new book he was promoting. In college publishing,
the marketing manager has to convince the
sales force that it is worth their time to try to get a
book adopted by professors who teach the relevant
course. Bonuses depend on it.
Bob was a compelling speaker, very funny, and I
found him adorable. He was definitely “my type”—
not too tall or too short, dark complexion, chocolate
brown eyes, a sexy Italian man. I was standing because
it was a full house. I remember the people—
editors, sales reps, marketers, and other corporate
types—around me saying, “You know who that is?
That’s Frank Zappa’s brother.”
The meeting in St. Louis was a blast. I closed down the
hospitality room every night. This was a partying crowd,
even after a full day of learning about McGraw-Hill’s
new titles. The food was great and the drinks flowed
endlessly. But Bob, being a bit more prudent, avoided
the hospitality suite and went to bed early.
A second sales meeting was held that January
at the Nassau Inn in the beautiful college town of
Princeton, New Jersey. When I was first invited to
that meeting I declined, saying I had to be at work
and couldn’t attend. I was a tenured full professor of
Child and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin-
Madison, teaching undergrads and grad students.
The meeting in St. Louis had been held before second
semester began so I went guilt free. But recalling that
I had had such a good time in St. Louis, I decided to go
to the second meeting, and arranged for a TA to teach
my classes in Madison.
It was a decision that would change my life.
Bob was assigned the task of collecting me at Newark
airport and getting me to Princeton. He met my
flight, took my floral brocade bag, and we headed for
the parking lot. I remember his rental car was white
and I wore a hot pink coat. When we got in the car to
drive to Princeton, he took a wrong turn leaving the
airport. The ride, plus the wrong turn, took an hour or
so. We spoke easily together, about so many things—
my books, his brother Frank, publishing in general,
and McGraw-Hill in particular. I learned he had been
married for 21 years and had a 15-year-old son. I told
him I had been married for 10 years, but I had no children
at the time. His wife, Marcia, was a nurse. My
husband, Jon, was a pediatric oncologist.
Both nights that I was in Princeton, I had dinner
with Bob along with a crowd of editors, sales reps,
and marketers. The first night was a banquet and,
when he saw there was only one other person at
my table, he came over and sat next to me. The next
night, dinner was with a small group that went to a
local restaurant. Bob and I sat together at the end of
a long table, lost in our own little world. He sat to my
right. I found out he was 42; I was 38.
When we talked later about that dinner, we both
remembered an intense and immediate connection.
Looking back, we realized that’s when we fell in love.