Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sweethearts reconnect on Facebook, 30 years after ill-fated prom

They're both 50 now, and most details of fifth grade are fuzzy. One is not: This is where love began.

It never went beyond the holding hands stage. Mainly Connie Mago and Chris Tanner just talked about sports and music and stuff that kids talk about. They ate lunch together each day in the cafeteria at Tarpon Springs Elementary. They played tennis. Then the bus took them home, 3 miles apart.

In middle school they remained inseparable, but Connie's folks didn't allow dating. She feared even a first kiss because she knew her dad would disapprove. Her shy boyfriend suppressed any romantic urges. Then just as they were about to start high school, Chris' family moved to Spring Hill.

"Only 40 miles,'' Connie said, "but it might as well have been California for two kids and no car.''

They wrote letters, but they could feel their relationship fading.

Chris hoped he might save it by having Connie come to his Springstead High prom. His mother agreed to drive him to Tarpon Springs to pick her up. But an hour into the dance, Chris got so sick he could barely stand. He had tonsillitis. His mom drove Connie home without him.

Relationship over, it seemed.

• • •

Chris played in the band and sang in the choir at Springstead High. He made the varsity tennis team. Connie earned a place in the National Honor Society, joined the Latin Club at Tarpon Springs High.

He got married, had a son, installed tile. Divorced.

She went to college, became a corporate accountant for Florida Insurance, married twice, divorced twice. No children.

Eight years ago, Chris attended the Renaissance Festival in Largo. He saw Connie walking with her husband. He wanted to say hello but kept his distance. Why start trouble?

• • •

By 2010, Chris had been a bachelor for 20 years and had no desire to change. He and son Stefen shared a home he bought in Spring Hill. Chris took an inside sales job with Trinity Tile & Stone. His friends pestered him to join Facebook so he could keep up with family and friends. Eventually he agreed. He had often thought about reaching out to Connie on other social media, but this time he did it. "Hi, remember me?'' he wrote.

"How could I forget my first love?'' Connie replied.

Afterward, Connie thought she had been too hasty, too flippant. "What if he's married?'' she wondered. "I didn't even check.''

In one message, Chris apologized for not being able to take her home from the prom. "I'm still embarrassed by that,'' he said. "You deserved a better evening.''

Chris and Connie made plans to meet. Even though he lived 40 miles north in Spring Hill, he worked five minutes from Connie's home in Holiday. He was installing a tile floor when she arrived.

"Wow!'' Connie wrote later about the encounter. "He hasn't changed at all!''

He stared at the familiar green eyes and big smile. She tried to focus on what he was saying but kept flashing back to their youth. They had both saved a souvenir prom mug from that last dance. He had even kept the entrance ticket and a photo of them together. His sentimentality impressed her.

In the next several nights, they talked on the phone for hours, staying up until 4 a.m., laughing and catching up. He admired her independence as a successful business woman. She respected his perseverance as a single parent who had worked through the construction industry meltdown without losing faith or humor.

They went to a Hudson restaurant — their first date in more than 30 years. They walked on the beach, holding hands.

By chance, Tarpon Springs High Class of 1980 was about to celebrate its 30th reunion. Chris and Connie saw it as a chance for a "do over'' from the ill-fated prom. This time they danced all night.

• • •

On April 28, they married in the underwater theater at Weeki Wachee Springs — 33 years to the day of the prom that might have been their last date had it not been for what Connie called "divine intervention.'' Mermaids swirled in the crystal clear water with a banner:

"And they lived happily ever after.''

Sweethearts reconnect on Facebook, 30 years after ill-fated prom 09/11/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 7:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst

    Business

    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Richard P. Malloch is the president of Hearst Business Media, which is announcing a $75 million investment in M2Gen, the for-profit cancer informatics unit spun off by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Malloch's job is to find innovative investments for the Hearst family fortune. A substantial amount has been invested in health care, financial and the transportation and logistics industries.
  2. A boat lays on its side off the shore of Sainte-Anne on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, early Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, after the passing of Hurricane Maria. [Dominique Chomereau-Lamotte | Associated Press]
  3. 7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 149, collapses buildings in Mexico

    World

    MEXICO CITY — A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 149 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.

    A woman is lifted on a stretcher from of a building that collapsed during an earthquake in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. [Rebecca Blackwell | Associated Press]
  4. FHP seeks semitrailer truck driver that left fiery wreck on I-75

    Accidents

    TAMPA — The Florida Highway Patrol is looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an Interstate 75 crash that left another car burning on Tuesday afternoon.

    Troopers were looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an accident scene on Interstate 75 in Tampa on Tuesday afternoon that caused a car to catch fire. [Courtesy of Florida Highway Patrol]
  5. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the standing ovation from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute seemed proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.