Linda and Don Smith of Smithtown went through a few false starts before beginning their relationship. Linda explains.
Don and I worked for a microelectronics company in Hicksville in the 1970s. Then, in 1981, along with a wave of fellow employees, we began working for Standard Microsystems Corp. in Hauppauge.
We were never formally introduced. I was Linda Abbattista back then. I worked in the marketing department, an exciting and tumultuous place. Don was in engineering. The promise of marketing just didn’t mix well with the reality and nuts and bolts of engineering.
But in late 1984 I suddenly took notice of Don. He was 33 and I was 34. He looked good. He had lost a lot of weight, no longer wore the stereotypical Coke-bottle glasses and had begun playing volleyball on his lunch breaks. As luck would have it, I had “professional” reasons (excuses) to pass his office multiple times a week. I waved, smiled and said hi.
The most I would get from him was a glance; he was obviously not interested in me. I gave up my attempts at meeting Don. I went about my career and, in general, gave up on dating altogether.
Months went by. I had returned from a business trip to Europe feeling both accomplished and alone when one Friday evening, as I readied myself to leave the office, I noticed a tiny yellow Post-it note on my terminal screen. It said, “We’re all meeting at The Red Caboose for happy hour . . . Don.” Was it the Don? Did he want me to meet him there? Well, my confusion didn’t slow down my reaction. I high-tailed it to the bar.
To avoid looking desperate, I gravitated to some friends for idle end-of-week conversation and free chicken wings. I slugged down a wine spritzer to soften the edge. I saw Don standing with some engineering comrades. I was sure he saw me too. He seemed cemented to his spot. I told one friend that “the guy over there” was meeting me. My friend said that it didn’t look like “the guy over there” was interested. Ouch, that hurt. I went home and, once again, I gave up on Don, and on men.
Work and life went on until late November, when a friend of Don’s, a fellow engineer, walked over to me and asked if I would be interested in attending the Christmas party with Don. I said yes. He told me that Don was planning to ask me himself, but I wasn’t banking on anything. Well, Don did ask me, and that’s how we finally “met.”
Don picked me up at my apartment with a Christmas wreath and a wrist corsage in hand. I was bowled over. He looked so handsome and was a perfect gentleman all night. I knew that he was interested.
Don confessed that he had a crush on me for a long time. He said he would watch my long hair swish back and forth as I crashed into walls at the Hicksville company. I hated to wear my glasses back then. He told me that the first thing he noticed about me were my eyes. I had no idea. We became inseparable, and in the fall of 1985 got engaged.
We were married 30 years ago — on May 31, 1986. We’re planning a Viking cruise to celebrate.
I left the company two years later and in 1995 began working at Suffolk County Community College, where I recently retired as a career adviser. In 2015 I received my master of science degree in mental health counseling from Long Island University. Don retired from Standard Microsystems in 2009 as principal electrical engineer.
He still keeps me guessing, but that’s part of the intrigue with my engineer, my husband, my Don.
— With Virginia Dunleavy