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Young Love's Blushing Blunders

Struck by Cupid's Deafening Arrows

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Gunshots rang out. My brother, who was waiting in the car, ducked down as he heard a gunfight at the end of that New York street between a cluster of thugs squabbling over who-knows-what.

Up on the fifth floor of an apartment building, I was saying a long, long, long goodbye in the hallway to the woman who would eventually become my wife. Budding love has a way of being oblivious to the swift turn of events of daily life as well as to practicalities such as diving for cover as bullets whiz by.

My brother, on a visit from California, suddenly felt that being inside a double-parked car in front of the building was not the best possible place to be.

He scrambled out the door on the sidewalk side and crouched between two cars as a figure ran up the street and dived underneath a nearby car. More popping noises.

My brother, not too surprisingly, wanted to be safely inside, like me. He ran quickly across the sidewalk. In the small entranceway to the apartment building, he frantically pushed the buzzer to the apartment of the woman I loved.

Upstairs on the fifth floor, we heard nothing.

Suddenly a police car, with red lights flashing and siren screaming, turned the corner and stopped nearby. Policemen jumped out, reached under the car and pulled out a man, threw him in the squad car, and roared away.

Upstairs on the fifth floor, we heard nothing.

This urban crime scene had started and stopped in less than a minute and a half. This is nothing when you are in love, but more than a lifetime if you imagine yourself under fire on the crime-ridden streets of New York.

Upstairs on the fifth floor, we heard nothing.

When I finally came back down to earth, and opened the door to the building, my brother was there, eyes big as golf balls.

''Did you hear the shooting?'' he shouted.

A blank look from me.

''Didn't you hear the shooting?'' he shouted.

''What shooting?'' I said.

We can laugh now, but then.

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