Monday, May 21, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

From This Day: Jeff Read and Jessica Brown

Jeff Read held a sheet of paper far from his face and squinted his eyes like he was staring into the sun. A fellow teacher at Oak Grove Middle School in Clearwater asked him what the heck he was doing.

"I broke my glasses," he told her.

Jessica Brown, a reading teacher, perked up from behind her computer screen nearby.

"I was in a mosh pit at the Social Distortion concert," Jeff, a language arts teacher, went on.

Jessica spun around in her swivel chair. She liked Social Distortion. And she loved how this teacher was kind of crazy, like her.

"Being a teacher, you have to be so prim and proper, so I was fascinated by how Jeff was different and a little rebellious," Jessica recalls.

At first, they made up excuses to email each other with school-related questions. Soon it evolved into talking about music and how their days were going. They fired off dozens of messages each day, finding any excuse to sneak to the computer during class. Sometimes they would even have their teaching assistants transport hand-written love notes back and forth between rooms.

Like a couple of kids, the duo ditched their school's winter band concert to sit in a pizzeria for two hours and talk about life. Jeff, 42, told her about his teenagers (Bryson, 13, and Kaeley, 17) and how he had been married before. But none of that fazed Jessica, 27. She embraced his kids as if they were her own.

After only six months of dating, from December 2011 to May 2012, Jeff asked her to marry him on a beautiful, twinkly night in New York City — right on top of the Empire State Building — with a ring with a stunning sapphire. The couple standing behind them in line captured it all on camera.

When Jessica thought of her wedding dress, she didn't think of a white ball gown. No veil, no gloves, either: "I love color, bedazzle and ridiculousness!" So she found a designer on Etsy.com who created a chunky-striped, multicolored dress just for her. (She says she'll probably wear it again when she and Jeff host Oak Grove's eighth-grade dance this year.)

As the couple said their vows on March 24 at the Columbia Restaurant in St. Augustine, Bryson stood on Jeff's left and Kaeley stood on Jessica's right.

"I wanted the kids to know we're in this together," Jessica said. "We're a team, we're a unit."

A few weeks after they met, as soon as Jeff knew Jessica was going to be the love of his life, he got his first tattoo. It's of Social Distortion's band logo: a dancing skeleton with a martini in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

But Jeff swapped the martini for a beer bottle ("because I like beer"), the cigarette for a book ("to represent teaching") and underneath the right foot he added a pair of broken glasses ("to represent meeting Jessica").

When asked if he thought twice about getting a tattoo for a woman so soon, Jeff said: "Not even for a second. I knew I would marry her."

Sabrina Rocco can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8862.

Comments

Tell Me About It: Divorce is only option with abusive wife

Divorce is only option with abusive wife"target="_blank">Divorce is only option with abusive wifeQ: My wife and I have what looks on paper like a great relationship. My problem is I hate the way my wife treats me.I say something she disagrees with, ...
Published: 05/21/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of May 21-27.

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of May 21-27.

Kendrick Lamar: ThePulitzer Prize-winning hip-hop powerhouse leads The Championship Tour on Tuesday at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa, with fellow hit makers including SZA and Schoolboy Q. $35-$125. amphitheatretampa.com. Tampa Ba...
Published: 05/18/18
Updated: 05/20/18

Tell Me About It: The kids are welcome, but not the bedbugs

Q: My brother and his estranged wife have three children. I love all of them. They live out of state and send the kids to us for summers. There have always been hygiene issues, like not washing after wet beds, leaving faint urine smells on the kids.T...
Published: 05/17/18
Plan your weekend May 18-20: Royal wedding watch parties, David Koechner, Fiesta Maxima, half off Dali admission

Plan your weekend May 18-20: Royal wedding watch parties, David Koechner, Fiesta Maxima, half off Dali admission

What's happening this weekend in Tampa Bay.
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
SeaWorld joins Busch Gardens in offering free beer this summer

SeaWorld joins Busch Gardens in offering free beer this summer

SeaWorld is joining its sister park, Busch Gardens, in offering free cups of beer this summer. Guests 21 and up can receive up to two complimentary 7-ounce beers per visit at Mama’s Pretzel Kitchen Patio in the park starting Friday through Sept. 2. T...
Published: 05/16/18
What’s in theaters: ‘Deadpool 2,’ ‘Book Club,’ a Pope Francis documentary and STEM movies

What’s in theaters: ‘Deadpool 2,’ ‘Book Club,’ a Pope Francis documentary and STEM movies

CinemaSTEM: Best in ShowTampa Theatre is making science, technology, engineering and math the star of its new CinemaSTEM movie series. The historic movie house will pair popular films with experts talking about some of the science that pops up in the...
Published: 05/16/18
Top things to do this weekend: Royal wedding watch parties, comic David Koechner

Top things to do this weekend: Royal wedding watch parties, comic David Koechner

ROYAL WEDDING: Watch partiesPrince Harry marries Meghan Markle on Saturday; guess how excited we are to put on a fancy hat and drink champagne cocktails at 6 a.m.? With royal wedding excitement at a fever pitch, St. Petersburg’s Hawthorne Bottle Shop...
Published: 05/16/18
Top concert picks this week: Little Steven Van Zandt, Turnt Up Tour, Fiesta Maxima

Top concert picks this week: Little Steven Van Zandt, Turnt Up Tour, Fiesta Maxima

E STREET BYPASS: Little Steven and the Disciples of SoulAsk Little Steven Van Zandt to pick his favorite songwriter in rock — excluding his boss Bruce Springsteen, of course — and he has to think a minute. He admires veterans like Billie Joe Armstron...
Published: 05/16/18
5 things to do under $5: Bike to Work Day, Woofstock, Leonard Bernstein celebration

5 things to do under $5: Bike to Work Day, Woofstock, Leonard Bernstein celebration

1Bike to Work Day: If you’re too nervous to face Tampa streets on your own, seven neighborhood meetup locations have been set up in South Tampa, Ybor and Tampa Heights for a Friday morning ride with experienced cyclists. Leaving at about 7:10 a.m., t...
Published: 05/16/18
Kendrick Lamar and the Pulitzer Prize: Here’s why he’s the best songwriter alive

Kendrick Lamar and the Pulitzer Prize: Here’s why he’s the best songwriter alive

He won. He actually won. It’s still hard to believe a month later, still a mouthful of joy to say aloud: "Pulitzer Prize winner Kendrick Lamar." After three Album of the Year Grammy losses in five years, most recently to Bruno Mars in Februar...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/17/18