The first time his heart skips a beat, he sees Mary. She's standing across the room, her green dress clinging to her curves, her shoulders bare. She's with another man but staring straight at Frankie, and he could barely remember the words he was singing. He leans over to Tommy and asked about her only to find out she was a maneater, the Type A Ball-Buster Tommy told him to watch for. But Frankie was nothing if not ambitious, and during their battle of wits- and after getting her boyfriend kicked out- he manages to finagle a date out of her.
He'd never been with a girl- woman- older than him, much less one who exuded confidence and sex appeal. She makes him nervous but he had seen Tommy enough in action to deal with someone like her, at least enough to navigate himself through the unknown waters. He plays it cool and hopes its working. She gives him advice on his new last name- an 'I', not a 'Y' because it's a bullshit letter- and he's struck again by how sure of herself she is.
He can see why men fall for her, and he briefly wonders if she really was unattainable, making some kind of game out of tearing men down. "Tommy warned me about you," he states after she answers his perfume question with a very sarcastic 'soap.' Matter of fact, she answers most of his questions with sarcasm, but he likes that. A lot.
"Yeah? What'd he say?"
"He said I couldn't handle you."
"That's because he couldn't."
He knew why Tommy couldn't handle her. Tommy loves women, but he loves the ones who are all beauty and no brain. He had to feel in control and a woman like Mary would've sent him running for the hills. Not Frankie though; Tommy always underestimated him. That makes him smile but then she pokes fun at his height.
"Hey, why ya gotta say that kinda stuff?"
"C'mere." She leans across the table and this throws him off, but he leans in too and they kiss. He didn't really understand all that talk about love at first sight or feeling fireworks for that first kiss before this night. His legs felt like jello but then she pulled him out of his chair and tells him to call home.
Their one date turned to one night turns to weeks turned to a happy wedding, and he never manages to wipe that dopey grin off his face.
Years later, even when things aren't so good and there are more fights than laughter, when she throws an ashtray at him and screams him to get out, when she insults him and takes another swig of alcohol, when she falls asleep with a lit cigarette in her hand, all in view of the children, he can see the old Mary, the one he knew long ago. Even then, she never fails to make his heart stutter.