When you’re single, one of the adages that you tend to often hear is that love happens when you’re not looking for it. That was most definitely the case on a spring afternoon fourteen years ago when I met 36-year-old Mark, a.k.a Sparky.
Back in the Big Apple for a few weeks on spring break from my junior year in London, I was persuaded by my mom to accept an invitation from a family friend and producer to watch a filming of “NYPD Blue.” Having only seen the then-hit show a couple of times and still recovering from jetlag, I wasn’t exactly jumping at the opportunity to hobnob with the stars.
That changed when, in the course of trying to locate aforementioned family friend Bill, I crossed paths with Sparky. The sparks flew between us immediately, and so did the playful banter. I now Open The Vault and take you back to March 1994...
March 23, 1994
New York City
I was snapping away with my camera, intent on recording as many details of “NYPD Blue” in action as possible. [My sister] Hilary and I posed for pictures with actors Dennis Franz and David Caruso.
While I was sitting in Sparky’s chair, I couldn’t resist asking Hil to get a shot of the two of us. It seemed fitting since he turned out to be the most memorable part of the day.
Sparky offered to try and get Hil and I walk-on parts as extras in the episode being filmed, but I said no thanks, not wanting to seem too starstruck. As Sparky continued his job of recording the dialogue, we continued giving each other the eye quite a bit.
“God, is it possible,” he asked, gripping the arms of the chair I was in and leaning in real close, “to be infatuated with someone this quickly?”
“I don’t know,” I answered with a smile. “I guess so.”
I knew it was only a matter of time until the fireworks between Sparky and me would lead elsewhere. As the sun faded and filming wrapped up, he once again held both arms of the chair. Looking right at me through his Ray Bans, he said--
“I would love to take you out.”
“Well, I’d love for you to take me out,” I replied without hesitation.
* * *
Before leaving the set, Hilary and I went over to Bill to thank him for inviting us to the proceedings. Upon informing him of my pending date with Sparky, he cautioned--
“Be careful. You know, he’s a Hollywood guy.”
* * *
Sparky took me to dinner at Capriccio, an intimate and upscale restaurant off of Park Avenue. I felt very aware of the fact that I was being wooed in a way I never had been before.
The conversation flowed and it struck me how stimulating it felt to be with an older man with so much life’s experience behind him--until Sparky casually mentioned that was he was divorced and had an 11-year-old child.
I smiled, inwardly thinking--whew, thank goodness he’s only going to be in town for 3 more days.
* * *
I had no idea then that the following three days would lead to months of bicoastal phone calls and flights, and years of love across three time zones. Who knew a TV shoot in the middle of a crowded New York City park could also be the ideal stage for romance?