You’d like to think that while you may have infrequent dorkish tendencies, you certainly are not a full-time, card-carrying dork.And then you meet Henry Winkler, and know that deep down, encoded in your very DNA all is lost, because dorky, thy name is little debbie Dorkarella, high priestess and queen of all the dorks you survey. The dorkish benchmark that to which all other dorks strive.
In 1976, when I was twelve, we moved from Puerto Rico to San Diego. I quickly became obsessed with stateside television. Every Tuesday night ABC aired a sitcom that quickly became more than a favorite, it became a passion and preoccupation. The show was a fifties-themed sitcom called Happy Days.
My mom adores the early days of rock & roll and performers like Chubby Checker, Elvis, and the Platters. The consequence of being raised in this atmosphere was nostalgia for a decade that I’d never actually experienced.And Happy Days was a sentimental, untroubled depiction of the 1950s. My favorite moments in the show were when Arthur Fonzarelli, or Fonzie, was onscreen. I was in love.
But not with The Fonz.
I was beguiled by the actor who portrayed him, Henry Winkler. He was a cute, classically trained actor. His New York accent and cadence were very similar to my New Jersey relatives. This conveyed a familiarity that made me feel that I already knew him.
For the second year in a row, The Kid and I went to Supercon, a gathering in Raleigh of fans of many genres. There are appearances by artists, authors, wrestling stars, and many actors.And this year there was a very special guest.
It was my seventh-grade object of desire, Henry Winkler. When The Kid told me the news, I could say nothing but “Oh my gosh” for probably ten minutes. I was thrilled, but a tiny part of me was scared.Last year I’d met a history/travel author at an event. It was someone who I’ve always enjoyed, was really smart, and whom I felt had a similar worldview to mine. There was a meet and greet after the program, and I was sure we’d hit it off right away, and bond over our amusement of the absurdity of life.
She turned out to be judgmental and irritable. She didn’t like me at all, and her tone and attitude made that quite clear. I was completely crestfallen and haven’t been able to open one of her books since that depressing evening.Henry Winkler had always seemed like a really nice guy, but so had the writer. If he turned out to be a cold, dismissive jerk, my heart would just snap in two. But I’ve adored this man for forty years and couldn’t let this opportunity pass me by.
Our meeting was more than I could have ever imagined. He was sweet, funny, and kind. We spoke for a few minutes, we hugged a couple of times, and just before I walked away he leaned in and kissed me.Allow me to say that one more time, HENRY.WINKLER.KISSED.ME!!!!
The Kid took my arm and walked me over to a quiet corner where I could catch my breath and contemplate what had occurred.I know that he’s had millions of fan encounters, but he was very cognizant of the fact that this was my one and only and would become a lifelong memory. He knew our moment was very special to me and treated it with tenderness. When I first walked up, he saw it was affecting me enough to render me mute. He smiled, looked me in the eye, held out his hand, and said,
“Hi, I’m Henry.”Thanks for your time.