Ariadne de Gennaro
Last week, Bill and Louise Beaumont visited Claire’s Cornercopia for a Valentine’s Day takeout dinner. Both have been frequenting Claire’s since “about 1978,” according to Louise. Over the phone, they told me that Claire’s had been their “happy place” for the 32 years they had been married, as well as the first place to go whenever there was a chance to party.
Bill first met Louise in New Haven when they were students at Southern Connecticut State University. Although they attended college at the same time, Bill was ten years older than Louise and they remained friends over the years. While Louise started attending college soon after high school, Bill came from a blue-collar family and played in bands for several years before going to school.
“Because I come from the type of background that I have, you didn’t go to college, you know – you went to work,” Bill explained. “When I was about 28, someone talked to me about going to school, and I looked into it…and I passed!”
The couple met through a mutual friend and Louise remembers Bill as a prankster in college. The first time he spoke to her, he was testing out a joke for his shift at the campus radio station, where he was trying to produce “quirky” material. Unfortunately, that first joke didn’t seem to land for Louise.
“The first words he said to me were, ‘Do you know why they call it a door prize?’ And I looked at him and I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ ‘Yeah, when you win, do they take the thing off the hinges and say congratulations?’ “said Louise. “And so I said to my friend, ‘Leanne, I don’t know who you’re hanging out with, but you know, widen your circle because this guy is a weirdo.'”
After graduating, the two friends went their separate ways. Bill, unbeknownst to Louise and their other friends, soon moved to California to care for his mother as she battled illness. Ten years later, Bill returned to Connecticut to attend a college friend’s wedding where he and Louise met.
They went out to dinner together soon after, where Louise listened to Bill lamenting about a cheating ex-girlfriend. She remembers having a moment straight out of the movie “Moonstruck”, when Cher slapped her love for frustration and told her to “get over it”.
Louise said: “I just wanted to say, ‘You don’t care! not all women are like that. Some women are good women, and why are you dating these women? And that was, what, a year and a half later? We were married.
Louise was 29 when she married Bill. She told me that most of her friends got married in their early twenties when they thought marriage was “like Cinderella” and then divorced soon after. Louise said her maturity helped prepare her for the ups and downs of marriage and that one of the keys to their happiness together was knowing when to “pick your battles”. As Christians, they also look to their faith and prayer for guidance in rocky areas.
The couple never had children, but they had a ‘fur baby’ for 17 years – a cat who died last year. It allowed them to spend time together and with friends. Bill and Louise have loved their favorite things to do together over the years, including going to shows, going to the karaoke bar every Friday and jumping in the car and getting “lost”. Laughter and the “little things” have kept them happily married for the past three decades.
Louise said: ‘A few nights ago I was doing my craft and forgot my slippers and it was very cold. And so I was just like, ‘I have cold feet,’ and he came over here and brought me my slippers.
I let out an “awww,” and Louise exclaimed to Bill, “See that? That’s how women see it, you don’t understand that… it means more!
Meanwhile, Bill said Louise made him laugh easily, constantly keeping him on his toes. Louise, being “shameless”, likes to sing when they go to the store together. He usually gives up trying to get her to stop.
Bill and Louise know each other perfectly. Although Bill is “by no means a mind reader”, he has the bizarre ability to vocalize whatever Louise is thinking. As we chatted, Louise used to finish Bill’s sentences, and they would often burst out laughing together.
Another key to their happy marriage is curiosity. Louise said she loves being with Bill because she can stick around for the “wildest things” he says and does, just like the first time they met. For them, there is always something new around the corner.
Bill and Louise enjoy surprising each other with new experiences or visiting places for occasions like Valentine’s Day. They don’t buy presents for each other because, according to Louise, they already have “more than [they] know what to do with it. Once again, they mentioned going to Claire’s house for celebrations, in addition to times when Louise surprised Bill with tickets to a football game or times when they traveled mysterious roads.
Bill retired from insurance company customer service about 10 years ago and has since returned to his roots: playing in bands. Louise started working from home during the pandemic and she told me she loved it.
“At the end of the day, there’s no one I’d rather be married to,” Louise said.
Bill added: “And I didn’t even pay her to say that.”