Dorothy Chiarchiaro: A Kiss for
was Christmas Eve, 1962, and Nick Chiarchiaro was
concluding a visit to his Aunt Betty in Park Slope,
Brooklyn. He gave his cousin, Rose, a peck on the cheek
&emdash; when skinny Dorothy Arguelles, her friend, piped
up: "Aren't you going to give me a Christmas kiss,
The reply that first sprang to mind was no. He barely
knew her and had never given her a thought. But politely,
he leaned over. Aiming for her cheek, he hit her lips
&emdash; and was hit by lightning. "My knees buckled," he
said. "I left the house, I didn't know where I was going.
I just knew I had to be with her."
Three months later &emdash; heart pounding &emdash; he
asked her out. They went to a tiny cocktail lounge, on
Love Lane in Brooklyn Heights, and ordered brandies. A
year later, after Mr. Chiarchiaro asked her mother's
permission, they were engaged.
During the 37 years that followed, he rarely
experienced an hour of boredom. "Movies, dinners,
friends," he said. Three children. For her, a job at Fred
Alger Management &emdash; to pay for clothes filling four
bedroom closets. And a constant game of sparring. They
argued, he said, about everything. "That's what kept us
going. We were oil and water, black and white. In public,
she called me Mr. Moroney &emdash; short for moron. The
neighbor girls called us the Bickersons."
"Kind," he said, thinking of words to characterize
her. "Considerate. And cantankerous."