Still happy: How'd they meet, how'd they marry?
Bashir and Kathy Khelafa
For the past dozen years, Bashir and Kathy Khelafa have pleased palates and filled the east end of the Mall with potent and alluring aromas as owner's of Bashir's Taverna. When they met nearly 32 years ago in New York City, however, the restaurant world was still far in their future.
"He was a graduate student at NYU, and I was working for a museum as a curator," says Kathy, who recalls her first encounter with her husband-to-be at a party.
"He was very cute, slim, young," she laughs. "I was very slim and young."
That night, Bashir charmed her with his culinary abilities– "He cooked a great meal, some Algerian thing," says Kathy, "and he played guitar." Their first date was at a party given by the United Nations, Kathy recalls, and from that point on, the couple was inseparable.
"We really cared a lot for each other," says Kathy." We decided that was it for life, and we've been married since."
Claude Worrell and Kathryn Laughon
November 2, 2002
While domestic violence is a devastating issue that breaks up many marriages, for Charlottesville Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Claude Worrell and his wife Kathryn Laughon, a nurse, it was the subject that brought them to gether.
"I was the domestic violence resource coordinator for the hospital system," Laughon recalls. "Claude was chair of the Council of Sexual and Domestic Violence."
The couple's first meeting didn't go well, as Worrell, who was running a meeting that Laughon also attended, failed to introduce her. Making matters worse, Laughon says, later on in the meeting he "shushed" her.
"I was in no way, shape or form charmed," laughs Laughon. "I don't know how he overcame it."
In fact, the two started hanging out through their work against domestic violence, and, says Laughon, "over time we became friends." There were still a few communications issues to work out, however.
"I didn't think we were dating," says Laughon, "he thought we were dating."
Worrell eventually won Laughon's heart and followed her to Baltimore, where she'd started a Ph.D program. In 2001, the couple's first child together, daughter Althea, was born. Then came 9/11.
Laughon, who'd previously been married and didn't think she'd do it again, says that tragedy caused her to rethink her priorities.
"I thought, 'Why am I being stupid?'" she recalls. "Clearly I have no interest in being with anyone else– why would we not be married? I informed him that should he want to, he could propose."
Worrell says he wasn't about to miss his chance. At a March 2002 outing to the park with the whole family, including Laughon's then-teenaged son and toddler Althea, Worrell popped the question, and Laughon accepted– with a caveat.
"I had to plan the wedding and arrange things," Worrell says, "because she was busy with children and a Ph.D."
"We had the best wedding ever," jokes Laughon. "It wasn't stressful for me because I didn't do a d**n thing."
The altar was happily crowded as 16-year-old Najeeb stood next to his mother and Worrell. Althea, however, was less than peaceful.
"She ran around and screamed during the ceremony," Laughon recalls. "She had to be taken out– back arching, screaming, but the minister kept talking."
A tantrum couldn't spoil the day in any way, say both Laughon and Worrell, now also parents of five-year-old Quentin.
"What we wanted was to stand up and make a public declaration of our love for one another," says Laughon, "and we did."
Langden and Scarlett Mason
May XX, 1984
There aren't many couples who can say they've been dating since before one of them could drive– but for the Masons, who met at Fluvanna High School when he was 15 and she was 16, that's just the case.
"I had to drive on our first two dates," laughs Scarlett, who recalls that their first date– in 1979– was to Dennis' restaurant in the North Wing of Barracks Road. While most high school romances end with graduation– or soon after– the Masons dated throughout her time at UVA Nursing School and married after Lang's junior year at Longwood in 1984.
"His last year, he lived in the dorm and had an apartment with me in Charlottesville," Scarlett, now 47, recalls. "We gradually eased into being married."
There might be something to that, as 25 years later, the two are closer than ever .
"We just always do things together. We grew up together," says Scarlett, noting they've now "been married longer than we were single."
While focus on their two daughters was the primary shared focus through the early years of their marriage, these days the young empty nesters say they're finding new ways to stay connected.
"We love to cook together; we've discovered wine, things like that," says Lang. It's very important to realize that the horizon doesn't end when you say 'I do.' There's a whole other group of horizons out there for you to discover together."
Which isn't to say they don't have their own separate interests. Scarlett, a nurse, gardens, and Langden, who works for State Farm, adapts screenplays into musicals, which are performed at the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center in Fluvanna.
"She hated musicals," he says, "but the best thing is, she has made me better. She's my biggest fan and my biggest critic."
The couple will have another shared family focus this fall, as their younger daughter, Leslie, who followed in her parents footsteps and married young, is expecting a baby. And their 22-year-old daughter, Hillary, married in May (and is featured on page XX).
Their daughters, they hope, have gotten good advice on how to make it last.
"Make sure you have the same goals in the end, that you want to strive for the same things," says Scarlett. And most important, she says, "Have fun together. Remember that you're going to be a couple way after the kids are grown and gone. You gotta like spending time with the person."