Diary of a Marriage: Star-Spotting at the US Open

One couple. One sporting event. Two completely different highlight reels.

iStockphoto courtesy of ThinkStock.com.

This past Sunday, as we’ve done every Labor Day Sunday for the past five years, J. and I went to the US Open. We woke up early, made our way to Flushing Meadows, and pressed through the gates of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at precisely 10:00am. I was tired, clutching my Starbucks coffee like it was my lifeline. J. was elated, a bundle of excited energy. The crowds of people around us were elated, too, wearing their USTA visors (visors!) and “Vamos Rafa!” t-shirts. I saw a few people sporting wristbands, even though I’m fairly certain they weren’t going to be playing any actual tennis that day.

I had only one moment of weakness, towards the very beginning of the day, when 10 hours of watching tennis—sweating in the sun, following the trajectory of a tiny yellow ball as it arced from left to right, left to right—stretched endlessly before me. I could already feel my dress sticking to me. It was hot, I was tired, tennis can be boring, and so I complained.

After my brief meltdown, it was smooth sailing. J. and I lingered at the practice courts, watching Caroline Wozniacki (who’s replaced her Stella McCartney ruffles with pleats) hit with her coach from afar. We watched Juan Martin Del Potro (in fabulously neon-bright yellow) play Gilles Simon from our perch at the very, very top of Louis Armstrong Stadium, where we could feel the breeze and stand up to stretch our legs whenever we wanted. We cheered on Donald Young, with his jaunty cap, as he beat Juan Ignacio Chela in straight sets, and J. didn’t even get annoyed as I peppered him with questions: Is he going to challenge that point? How old is that guy? Do you think they’re nervous? Is Brooklyn Decker here?

We were sitting on a bench when Venus and Serena Williams’s dad walked by, or so J. tells me. He also tells me that we nearly bumped elbows with Steve Johnson, a star player at USC and the reining NCAA single’s champion. And we were among the small throng of people waiting for Nadal to leave the player’s lounge (unbeknownst to us, he’d exited through a side door). But my biggest sighting wasn’t Federer or Nadal or Djokovic. No, my star-spotting was Nathan Thomas, interior designer and winner of the second (and final) season of Bravo’s short-lived Top Design, sitting at a table in the food court. I gasped and pulled on J.’s arm.

“That’s that interior designer! From that show! The one with the newsboy cap! How is no one else noticing this?”

J., who initially thought I’d glimpsed a star of the tennis variety, was unmoved. Still, though, he gamely followed along as I approached Nathan and gushed about his work. (For the record, Nathan was charming and humble, and he’s opened his own interior design firm in New York.) J. even extended his hand and apologized that he didn’t know much about Nathan’s work, or the show: “My wife follows so many of those shows, I can’t keep up. Plus, I’m more of a sports guy.” Nathan laughed.

We spent the train ride home talking excitedly about the day’s highlights. There was that great energy in the Grandstand during the Young match. There was that collective hush as Flavia Pennetta crouched at the back of the court and threw up, just before coming back to beat Shuai Peng. There was the raw power of Del Potro that is so much more unbelievable when you see it in person. And then …

“Just say it, babes. What was one of the best parts?” J. said, half-smiling.

Fine. There was that interior designer. From that show. The one with the newsboy cap.

What about you, ladies? Do you and your guy find ways to have a fun day together even if one of you isn’t too thrilled about the activity? How do you compromise on the things you do together?


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