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I thought we reached peak white people when we had the rowers, but this week brought us two Harvard grads that are everything you’d hope they’d be. Let’s not waste any time.
As always, original text in quotes.
A Love Story That Had to Wait
Harvard has produced more than its share of romances, though perhaps none as luminous and, in its own way, as lasting as that of Oliver and Jenny in “Love Story.”
I’m not going to sugarcoat it; I’m completely onboard with these two modeling their love after a 1970s romance movie. Everyone knows I fancy myself somewhat of a rom-com connoisseur, so.
But if these two both went to Harvard? You know we’re in for some uppity, unbearable stuff this week.
In the 1970 tear-jerker of a book and film, the preppy Oliver proposes to the working-class Jenny on the Weeks footbridge over the Charles River, a location that remains a favorite of lovers young and old.
Cool, I guess? Don’t tell me about the fuckin’ labor, New York Times. Just show me the baby.
And in a tradition that began a few years after the film came out, a student-run organization still offers annual viewings of “Love Story” for first-year Harvard students.
That sounds like one of those events I would’ve skipped because only nerds were going to student-run organization events while all the cool kids were drinking Natty Light in their dorms.
In 1978, two of the newcomers who attended the screening of the film were Beth Saidel, an art student and dancer descended from a long line of Ohio dentists, and Joe Profaci, a straight-A student and track star from Staten Island and the grandson of Joe Profaci, a New York Mafia boss.
Man, pretty tough to be an Ohio dentist when you’re going up against New York mafia bosses, eh? But that’s just a family you straight up don’t want to fuck with. They’ll kill you and remove all your teeth without even blinking.
But Ms. Saidel and Mr. Profaci, now both 55, did not meet during that orientation, or during their years at Harvard.
Okay, so why all the damn Harvard talk? This is the most erratic fucking marriage announcement we’ve seen to date.
Mr. Profaci was an English major, Ms. Saidel a studio art major. He lived in Harvard Square, she up by Radcliffe. And she took two years off in the middle of college.
If my daughter told me she wanted to go to Harvard to be a studio art major, I’d take the hundreds of thousands of dollars I’d waste on her Harvard education and buy her a state-of-the-art studio for her to hone her craft. Not just going to let her go gallivant around Cambridge with a bunch of horned up secret society members.
Still, Mr. Profaci is sure that he spotted her that first year. “I must have seen her in the freshman union dining hall,” he said recently. “I must have asked my guardian angel, ‘Hey man, can you do something here?’ And the angel must have replied, ‘Yes, but you’ll have to wait.’”
But how long?
Oh, fuck. This mafia descendent really talking guardian-fucking-angels right now? This is like the opposite of when AJ Soprano went through his shitty metal phase.
Mr. Profaci went on to receive a law degree from New York University, worked for law firms in Washington, married and had three children, and eventually found his way into Colavita, the Italian foods company of which his father, John Profaci, was a founder. He mastered French and Italian, followed opera and the New York Islanders hockey team, coached Little League baseball, divorced and kept in touch with friends from the schools he attended.
This dude has the most Hot Bro resume I’ve ever seen. A mobster with degrees from Harvard and NYU who’s also a hockey fan divorcee? I can’t even imagine what the weekends following his divorce were like with the kind of money this dude must be pulling in.
People would ask him every so often about his grandfather. “He died when I was 3,” Mr. Profaci said. “I just remember him picking me up and putting me on the hood of the car and asking me what I wanted for my birthday.”
Don’t bullshit a bullshitter, Joe. No one forms memories at the age of 3.
Ms. Saidel taught at a private girls’ school in Baltimore, moved to Washington and worked at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, and then as a “right hand” for an architect. And she danced part time with the Washington Opera. One evening at the opera, another dancer fell ill and she was thrust into a larger role that she had not prepared to take on.
Coming from money only to become a dancer and “right hand” for an architect sounds like something out of a high-society film directed by Woody Allen. The smell of white privilege is so strong that I feel like I’m in the perfume section at Nordstrom.
“She had no idea where she was supposed to be,” said Kristina Windom, head of faculty at the Washington Ballet and a fellow dancer. “So she flitted about the stage. The way she is on stage — theatrical, spontaneous — is the way she is in life.”
Barf. Don’t come at me with more of those stupid fucking metaphors. Chick clearly had no idea what she was doing on that stage and was forced to fudge it. Don’t sugarcoat it by saying that’s just how she is. She mailed it in during rehearsals and it came back to bite her in the ass.
Even as she was productive and happy in Washington, she never felt at home there. Deciding to nest in New York, she eventually went to work as the special assistant in the president’s office at Barnard College. She was married for a brief time, and had other romantic relationships. Soon after she turned 44, she woke up one day in a panic and said to herself, “I might never get to be a mom!” she said. She found a fertility doctor, and in November 2005, she gave birth to a boy. She named him Oliver, not after Ryan O’Neal’s character, but because it had never appeared in her family before and she liked how it sounded.
Wait, it took her until she was forty-fuckin’-four to realize that she might not be a mom? Don’t most girls go through that stage at like, oh, I don’t know… thirty? Good thing we’ve got Ollie on the scene now, though. Who doesn’t want to marry a 44-year-old with a newborn?
A college friend, Harry Dreizen, said Ms. Saidel always had an adventurous spirit. “She needed to do exotic things,” he said. “She thought of herself as a dancer and an artist, and then she became a mom and a grown-up.”
Yeah, life isn’t all art schools and dance recitals, toots. Welcome to the real world.
She spoke with Mr. Profaci for the first time in May 2013. The Harvard class of 1982 had bought a block of tickets for alumni to see a classmate, Courtney Vance, in the play “Lucky Guy” at the Broadhurst Theater in Manhattan. Mr. Profaci, now single, went with his daughter, Catie. Ms. Saidel attended with Mr. Dreizen and his sister Julie. When the play ended, Harvard alums gathered in the theater, and Ms. Saidel waved to a man she knew. But Mr. Profaci was standing in front of the man and thought she was waving to him.
Classic mix-up, am I right? This sounds like a goddamn Frasier episode.
“It took my breath away,” he said. “I said ‘Who is that?’ I hoped she was talking to me. She wasn’t.”
Have some fucking confidence, nerd. Why are you scared of this artsy-fartsy chick when you’re rolling around with double-barrel degrees from two of the most esteemed educational establishments in the nation?
Undeterred, Mr. Profaci persuaded a group of classmates to go to the Harvard Club for drinks after learning that Ms. Saidel was doing the same. They spoke briefly. Friends remember an electric current running through Mr. Profaci that night.
Going to the Harvard Club is such a great closer move. It’s like taking a girl skiing. You know the second she sees you shredding down the hill, it’s a done deal. Same with when you roll into the Harvard Club and ask, “The usual?”
The Harvard Club closed, and the group headed to the Royalton Hotel across the street. There, Mr. Profaci and Ms. Saidel spoke in earnest. “He was just this lovely guy,” Ms. Saidel remembered. Mr. Profaci was charmed: “I was thinking, ‘This is a beautiful woman,’ and it was all kind of cool.”
Power move after power move after power move. I bet these places don’t even accept cash or credit cards, you just have to have an account that you pay monthly on your parent’s Platinum AmEx.
He emailed her later to wish her a happy Mother’s Day, and they began to date. He took her to a play at Sing Sing, the prison in Ossining, N.Y. (where a friend of his runs a theater program), she introduced him to aerial yoga (in which a sort of hammock is used), and he cooked for her.
He emailed her on Mother’s Day?! This dude was thirsty. But don’t let his thirst blind you from this being one of the whitest paragraphs in the history of Insufferable Marriage Announcements. Friends in theater programs coupled with aerial yoga? I know I’ve said this already, but this is the plot of a 2016-version of Frasier.
Each year, Ms. Saidel traveled for a week in the summer, often on her own. She asked Mr. Profaci to accompany her in August 2013. It was on that trip, to Paris, that they realized they were in love.
Two people falling in love during a week in Paris? Who would’ve thought? You could send me to Paris with Rebel Wilson and I’d probably come back thinking she’s the most beautiful soul in the world.
One day, they were sitting in the Musée d’Orsay, Mr. Profaci speaking on the phone in flawless French, when Ms. Saidel had a revelation. “I thought, ‘You’re so great and you’re speaking French and we’re sitting in the Musée d’Orsay and what is happening to me?’” she said. “It was magical and beautiful.”
I bet he was about 60% proficient and she was too blinded by his perfect accent that she assumed it was flawless. You’ve gotta respect the move. It’s like when the Asian women talk while they’re doing your nails. You don’t know what they’re saying, but you’re still in awe of their completely foreign tongue.
Mr. Profaci said: “We seem to walk at the same pace. And that fact that we went to Harvard together, that was a ballast that kept us steady, that we had this common experience we could fall back on.”
Okay, bro. Don’t just slip a “ballast” in there and expect to get away with it. We get it, you went to Harvard.
Marriage entered their conversations. Mr. Profaci asked Ms. Saidel’s son for his blessing. Then he made a plan.
The kid was a fucking test-tube baby. Of course, he’s going to want a dad, Joe. Why even ask?
In May 2015, when the couple, with Oliver and two of Ms. Saidel’s relatives, visited Harvard for an event, he orchestrated a proposal. He enlisted a friend, Seth Lloyd, an M.I.T. professor who specializes in quantum mechanics and who was part of a team that shot a photon a few billionths of a second back in time, in an early time-travel exploration.
How psyched was Seth Lloyd to get his entire fucking resume put out there in this announcement? If that M.I.T. professor was hurting with the ladies before, you’ve gotta imagine he’s getting some LinkedIn requests from some girls that look like extras on Big Bang Theory.
Dr. Lloyd posed as the group’s tour guide. “I was pretty scared,” Dr. Lloyd said. “Then things started to fall apart.” Ms. Saidel recognized him. She said to herself, “Are they paying M.I.T. professors so little they have to work as tour guides at Harvard?”
Zinger alert! Classic Ivy humor.
Still, she was game, and Dr. Lloyd led the group through the campus, pointing out highlights. He showed them Adams House, where Mr. Profaci and Dr. Lloyd lived during their senior year. The tour continued to Dunster House, the dormitory that was once home to the “Love Story” author, Erich Segal, who died in 2010.
Okay, this section is just uppity white people trying to drive home the fact that they went to Harvard and none of us did. Cool, guys. Take your Dunster House and stick it up your asses. Just get to the damn engagement.
Finally, Dr. Lloyd led them to the Weeks footbridge, where Oliver Barrett IV proposed to Jenny Cavilleri (played by Ali MacGraw) in “Love Story.” Once there, everyone but the couple was shooed away. Mr. Profaci dropped to one knee and proposed.
I’ll pay money for someone to get me photos of this. These are the same type of people who hated on I Hate Your Engagement photos and called me “lonely” for speaking my mind.
They were married March 19 under a wedding canopy at the Harvard Club. Long-deceased dignitaries of Harvard and Radcliffe observed from their perches on the walls, among them Theodore Roosevelt, Harvard 1880. Music from Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” and Bruce Springsteen played, and when the ceremony ended, the groom strolled down the aisle accompanied by his new bride, who danced.
If you saw The Boss coming in the middle of that sentence, you’re a better man than I. I was gagging the entire time until I saw that they had Bruce on the speakers.
“This couldn’t have happened 30 years ago,” said Chris O’Hare, a Harvard friend. “He was from an Italian Catholic family, she was from a Jewish family. Then there’s her baby, his divorce. It’s an interesting reflection of how life has developed, how times have changed.”
Welcome to 2016, guys. If you aren’t divorced and having a kid out of wedlock, you’re a total snooze. My second wife hasn’t even been born yet so stay tuned.
Dr. Lloyd, the time-travel professor, watched from the sidelines, smiling. “One of the things that has struck me, going back in time to his former self and now to his wedding, is that he has grown into himself,” he said. “He is still a wonderful, kind, gentle, intelligent person, with a confidence he didn’t have then. This came out of their both growing into their future selves to meet each other, accept each other and love each other.”
Fucking Time-Travel Professors, man. Can’t make that stuff up. .
Image via Shutterstock