Thursday, September 19, 2013

Joe and Jennifer


You know?  The football dude and his lovely wife.  I have been having fond recollections of them lately.

Joe Montana was the glorious quarterback for the 49ers back in their 1980's hey-day.  I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so that was "our" team.  My dad was a great fan of the 49ers and -- I must say -- he was a bit miffed with me because I never paid any attention to them.  Until, of course, Joe Montana and Dwight Clark joined the team.  And then my dad was miffed with me because it seemed I was only paying attention to the 'Niners because of Joe and Dwight.  That is a little bit fair, but not entirely.  It's just that when this Dynamic Duo joined the team, I was of the age where I could finally begin to truly appreciate the sport.  And the way the players' uniform pants fit them. And the way Joe's blond curls peeked out from beneath his helmet.

So, anyway...

As the story goes, my Auntie Norma worked for a Catholic parish in the Bay Area.  The pastor of this parish was the Chaplain for the 49ers.  I think this was because the owner of the 49ers, at the time, was an Italian Catholic dude.  Now, my aunt, she loved to talk.  She was delightfully chatty.  So, apparently, was the pastor.  Therefore, I was privileged to be treated to many wondrous tales of Joe and Dwight.  Please, don't get me wrong.  Joe and Dwight were fine young men.  No scandal was involved.  In fact, upon occasion, I used to go to Mass at the church where my aunt worked, even though it was not my regular church.  Oftentimes, the homilies would be tales of how Joe Montana exemplified the qualities of our Lord Jesus in the Gospels.  I kid you not.

Being fine, young, attractive, single guys, Joe and Dwight did date.  Dwight was the first to succumb to marriage.  And his wedding was held -- I bet you can guess -- at the parish where Auntie Norma worked.  I think she was allowed to surreptitiously watch the ceremony from some hidden alcove in the back of the church.  Joe?  He took a bit longer to find the right gal.  And it seems that he lived for a while with Dwight and Dwight's new bride.  Dwight's bride would sit up with Joe after he came home from dates, and dispense good advice to him about the ladies.  Such was the tale, anyway...

Eventually, Joe did find The One.  She was a beautiful, tall, blond model named Jennifer.  They met while shooting a commercial -- something having to do with shaving.  If memory serves, I believe she got to stroke his face in the commercial while he looked all pleased as punch.  It was a cute commercial.  As I heard it told, Jennifer invited him out after the shoot, because it was held in a city unfamiliar to Joe, but familiar to her.   So, taking pity on him, she offered to show him around.  And that, as they say, was that.

Anyway, all of us back home in Redwood City were a bit suspicious -- at first -- of this gorgeous creature who (whom?) Joe brought home from the commercial.  She seemed a bit of an interloper.  We wondered what kind of character she possessed.  Was she just "after" Joe for superficial things?  Like his good looks, his fame, his cash?  We observed the situation -- always with the assistance of my aunt who was "in the know" -- very carefully.

Word came to us, though, via the Chaplain, who spoke to my aunt, who spoke to the rest of us more distant onlookers, that this lady was quite wonderful.  She and Joe were soon married.  You can guess where.  I believe my aunt was again allowed to take up her post at the back of the church to observe the nuptials.  It was quite a grand time.

Joe and Jennifer are still married.  They have four beautiful kids.  While living in the Bay Area, they attended Mass at the church to which I have been referring.  I used to see them there, because Jennifer stood taller than most of the men and was the most striking woman I had ever seen in person.  She used to do her hair in a little blond ponytail, tied up with a black ribbon.  She was a doll.

And this whole thing taught me a lesson, because I had always assumed that a drop-dead-gorgeous model would be sort of a snob.  You know?  Rather aloof?  But, Jennifer Montana was the farthest thing from that.  Joe, himself, was rather shy.  Lots of people thought he was arrogant, but he really wasn't.  He was just shy.  If there had been Twitter at the time, I'm pretty darned positive that he would have had nothing to do with it.  Jennifer, on the other hand, was a warm, outgoing lady.  She kind of bridged the gap between Joe and the fans.  She softened his rather hard image quite a bit by the way she spoke about him and by the way she, herself, would interact with his fans.  I heard a story once that their family was at the fair and a bunch of kids ran up to Joe for autographs.  He -- according to his usual habit -- evaded them.  His wife, though, turned to the kids, smiled, and spoke to them about how Joe was just a private person and was enjoying the day with his family.  She assured them of his appreciation for them.  What a lady.

I also noticed that after they were married, Joe seemed to relax a bit.  He appeared more content.  He became a wonderful dad.  I saw a video recently of one of their sons, who is playing football this year for Tulane (I believe).  What a lovely young man -- big smile, outgoing, happy, great attitude.  And I felt so grateful that, all those years ago, some agent, somewhere, thought Joe should make a shaving commercial with a striking blond bombshell of a gal.  And I was also grateful that I had a Catholic aunt, who loved to chat.  Rest in peace, Auntie Norma.

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