"When I think of the first time I met Ron, I remember him dressed as the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz..."
It was late October, around Halloween. A friend of mine and I were at Swing City, a regular dance gig
I have been attending for almost five years now. There was Dorothy and the Scarecrow
lindy-hopping to the sounds of Duke Eillington and Louis Prima. The friend I was with was really good friends
with Dorothy (a.k.a. Gretchen) and wanted to dance with her. It was the end of the night, so there weren't a lot
of people around.
The two started dancing, which left The Scarecrow and I standing together. Mr. Scarecrow (a.k.a. Ron) asked me to dance with him - but
I was really intimidated because at this point, I had only been swing dancing for about a month. Soon I discovered, though I had
2 left feet at the time, Ron was a really great dance lead.
Little did I know that eventually we would become friends...then dance partners...then best friends...true companions...and finally the love of my life.
Jennifer Fairman is the founder and principal of Fairman Studios, LLC. Jennifer's background includes
experience in medical and scientific illustration for publication and patient education,
2D animation, web publishing and interactive and graphic design.
She pursued undergraduate studies at the
University of Maryland, College Park where she received a Bachelor of Arts in studio art with a minor in
German and a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences. Jennifer worked as a scientific illustrator for the
Institution within the
National Museum of Natural History.
She received her Master of Arts in Medical and Biological Illustration
from the Johns Hopkins
University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland. After graduating from Johns Hopkins in 1999,
Jennifer moved to Boston to work as a staff medical illustrator
for the Lahey Clinic,
a suburban hospital and community group practice.
Shortly thereafter, she founded Fairman Studios.
On October 30, 2004, at approximately 3:15pm London time, on the top of the London Eye, an intimidatingly huge ferris wheel, Ron proposed to Jen.
But getting her onto the Eye wasn't an easy task...
Ron and Jen decided they needed a vacation - they had both had a long summer of work, and not enought time for fun. Jen thought,
"wouldn't it be nice if we could find cheap airfare to a city in the US that's far away, and just go for a long weekend to get
away from it all?" Ron agreed. First, talks of going to the West Coast seemed like fun - Jen had never been to Seattle before, and Ron
thought it would be a great city to tour. When the two began looking into fares, they both realized that they may as well find a
special fare to a European city like London - it seemed like it was just 2 hours further away, at about the same price! It was a plan.
They decided to take a spontaneous adventure to London, and since Jen had never been there before, she was excited about the prospect of Ron
being her tour-guide too!
As time drew closer, Ron became a little nervous about the airplane tickets Jen had reserved for the trip: Non-stop tickets from Boston
Logan to Heathrow the weekend before the US Presidential election. Ron had a point: it seemed a little risky with what was going on in the news.
Jen reconsidered and thought, "maybe we can use the tickets later when the times aren't so risky." So the couple reconsidered Seattle.
Then Ron changed his mind: instead he decided to modify the plane ride to go through Germany, and then from Germany to London to avoid
feeling nervous about a non-stop flight.
One could say they "met across a crowded room"...twice
Ron and Jen swing dip in the
Boston Public Gardens
Seems Ron and Jen have been involved with swinging their whole lives!
Who'da thought they would have so much in common!
Hence on October 28th, 2004, Ron and Jen jetted out of Boston for the great city of London.
They stayed at a wonderful hotel near the Tube and began touring around. They saw the
Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, The Tower or London, the Thames River, Buckingham Palace, and avoided fish and chips as best they could.
Ron had made special 3:00pm reservations on the London Eye, a 200 foot tall ferris wheel right on the river Thames. Of course, Jen was becoming a slow-poke,
running a little late, and Ron started to get nervous and impatient. Ron became concerned that they would miss their reservation. Nevertheless,
with a picnic lunch in hand, Ron and Jen made it to the London Eye in time to check in.
From the ferris wheel,
one can see the whole city of London. Each egg-shaped car can hold 15-20 people. Ron had booked tickets to board the Eye
at 3:00pm. Jen, Ron and a few others on the same flight waited
at the check-in desk for their escort to take them to their car. As Jen sat in the waiting area, she browsed at tourist brochures and
posters that showed how some tourists spent special occasions at the Eye. One picture showed a bride and groom toasting each other
inside one of the cars.
Jen then turned to Ron and said, "Huh - you see that? People actually get married on the Eye! What a wacky idea! I wonder how many people have done that
so far." Then Jen suddenly said, "I'll bet a lot of people get engaged here, eh?" Ron just smiled.
It was time! At 3:00pm, Jen and Ron boarded the Eye by climbing into a large egg-shaped capsule along with a few other couples. As they began to ascend, Jen mentioned to Ron
that they should have someone in the car take their picture when they reached the top. Ron agreed. Jen handed her camera to a very nice
co-passenger who proceeded to take their picture in front of the large glass wall of the craft. "Click." The picture was taken. Jen began to
reach for the camera and say, "thank you," but before she could, Ron asked the kind gentleman to continue to hold on to Jen's camera. "There's
something else I'd like you to record if you don't mind," Ron asked.
That's when Ron got down on one knee...
"When I think of the first time I met Jen, I remember her sitting in a chair at Ken's place..."
Imagine the following scene: a hot night in December in an old church in
Cambridge where a rag-tag swing band plays a mediocre rendition of Hidee-Ho
(or is it Old Man on the Mountain?) by Cab Calloway. Thinking that the night is over,
an exhausted boy goes to where he stowed his shoes and bag to go home. And the scene begins:
Exhausted Boy: "Hey there! Time to go home! Just want to grab my bag that's underneath your chair"
Perplexed Girl: "Time to go? I think there's another set coming up!"
Goofy Boy: "Oh yeah? I thought we're near the end... this band makes 10 minutes seem like an hour.
Or maybe it was the hour-long rendition of Sing Sing Sing with the 15-minute Jaw-harp that did it."
Giggling Girl: (tee hee hee)
Boy: "So, new to town? Haven't seen you here before!"
Girl: "Just moved to Boston 3 months ago.
Boy: "Really? How long have you been swing-dancing."
Girl: "Oh, not very long...just started really. It's something wanted to learn after I finished grad-school."
Boy: "Have you heard about the Watertown dances? There's one this Saturday."
Girl: "Yeah! It sounds like fun, but I can't go this Saturday... I'm having a pot-luck housewarming party this weekend"
Boy: "Really? Sounds like fun! I'm Ron, by the way..."
Girl: "I'm Jen... er.... ummm... wanna come to my party...?"
And so began Ron's tradition of getting himself invited to parties that he wasn't originally on the list for. I mean, and thus was the beginning of the relationship that brings us to this point ...
Ronald Schmelzer, senior analyst and founder of ZapThink, LLC, is a well-known expert in the field of XML and XML-based standards and initiatives. Ron has been featured in and has written for periodicals, and has spoken at numerous industry conferences including XML One, Comdex, and Internet World on the topic of XML.
Ron has served as the chair of the RosettaNet Cluster 1 Workgroup, working group member of CPExchange, member of the UDDI advisory group, and was a member of the CompTIA Electronic Commerce Standards Board (ECSB).
Ron was named "Geek of the Week" in Internet Magazine and was listed in Boston Magazine's Internet Top 40. Ron received a B.S. degree
in Computer Science and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Nervous Ron: Haven't you been wondering why I have had this ring in my pocket all day?
Surprised Jen: What ring?!
Ron: Arpy, you are my best friend and I want to spend the rest of my life with you...
Will you marry me?
Jen: Oh... my... gosh.... Ohhhhh... myyyyyyyyy... goshhhhh.... Oh... my... gosh.... Oh my gosh....yes!
Jen began to cry (of course) and Ron proceeded to place the engagement ring on Jen's finger,
which had been designed by their close friend Kenny Boston. As they hugged, Jen began to realize that not only did they have the audience
of the passengers sharing their car, but out the window she could see all the people in the next car over staring at her.
As soon as she gestured the international hand signal for "I just got enagaged," the passengers inside the other car began to cheer.
And as tradition would have it, as soon as Ron and Jen exited the London Eye, and were safely on the ground again,
they posed for a picture - Ron dipping Jen in front of the ferris wheel.