"I was thrilled, nervous, and thought, 'Please don't let it be a fund-raising call!'" Hanover tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith. "You have to realize, he dumped me in college."
The reason? "I think I was just too young to know what I had, and I was feeling tied down and so forth," Oster says. "I like to think I got kicked in the head by a mule. I made a big mistake."
They married about a year after getting reacquainted. And the book, "My Boyfriend's Back," tells their story.
"I wrote the book because there are a lot of people who are alone and sad," Hanover says. "We just passed Valentine's Day, and my hope is they'll try to take the advice and by next Valentine's Day or sooner, they'll write into the Web site, myboyfriendsback.com, and tell me they, too, had a chance to reunite. It offers so much happiness and so much possibility."
Hanover's experience compelled her to explore the phenomenon of reuniting: why it happens, how often, and what it means for people of all ages.
"We felt what a lot of reunited couples feel, which is an instantaneous chemistry," Hanover says. "The fact that you have the shared background, the paper drives at school and all that sort of stuff, it really does bond you and draw you together."
Oster adds, "It's a wonderful combination that is exciting on the one hand and familiar on the other, and what is so essential for any relationship, especially one as important as this, you have that trust early on. And we felt that right away."
It's what some experts are calling a "twenty-first century" trend in relationships, which includes Carol Channing, who recently married her junior high school love; actors Suzanne Pleshette and Tom Poston, both veterans of "Bob Newhart" TV shows; and Liza Huber, star of TV's "Passions," who married the boy who sat behind her in second grade.
Here's an excerpt from Chapter 1:
He Doesn't See My Cellulite
Ed Oster may have been my high school sweetheart, but he was also my adversary. At weekend debate tournaments our schools were traditional rivals. My team, Fremont High in Sunnyvale, California, was a perennial powerhouse. Ed led the team for Bellarmine College Preparatory, a Catholic boys' school in San Jose that treated debate like a varsity sport, expecting cogent arguments and intense competitive spirit. I remember thinking that Ed was a smart and persuasive debater with a deep voice and a strong intellect.
I also thought he was pretty darn cute.
Fast forward to August 2002. Having finalized my divorce a month before, I was adapting to a new life. And I was about to have coffee with Ed, who broke up with me during our freshman year at Stanford. It was more than 30 years since our young romance had ended.
I was nervous. I was happy. I considered canceling.
This wasn't exactly a date, I told myself. It was more like getting together with an old friend to catch up. I studied my face in the mirror. A few more wrinkles, I guess. Okay, a couple more pounds. The page-boy haircut from my past was gone (thank goodness), but at least I was still blond. I'll admit it: I spent lots of extra time fussing with my hair and makeup that day. I wanted Ed to think that I had been naturally gorgeous 34 years ago and that I was still naturally gorgeous today, no matter how much work it took!
I confronted my closet, looking for something that would suddenly make me tall and slim and glamorous, but the "lose-10-pounds-overnight" fairy had not stopped by. I settled on a gray silk suit and black high heels—after all, if you can't be tall, you can at least think tall.
I was so glad that Ed hadn't suggested going to the beach—no bathing suit, no cellulite on display! However this meeting turned out, I wanted to look my best. (And it is possible that I wanted him to eat his heart out since he broke mine so many years before!)
I was happy he hadn't seen me during some of my past phases—trying to lose weight gained during pregnancies or growing out a disastrous hairstyle. Launching into an internal pep talk, I reminded myself that I wasn't the only one who had gotten older. And if I was this eager to see the man I had once loved and who had loved me, he might be feeling the same way. Maybe his formal tone on the phone came from the same nervous excitement I was feeling.
We had agreed to meet in Ed's hotel lobby. Of course, I was ready way too early. I passed the time straightening photographs in the living room: my children, now teenagers, playing with Legos when they were little; Andrew in his football uniform; and Caroline at six, missing her front teeth, hugging my dad and a stuffed Minnie Mouse doll. My mother looked so proud holding her new grandson on the day we brought him home from the hospital. In a later picture Andrew appeared angelic as he hugged his little sister, when he actually had her in a headlock.
In another shot, I played evangelist Ruth Carter Stapleton in Milos Forman's film The People vs. Larry Flynt, actor Woody Harrelson posed with us. We looked pretty angelic as a group that day in our white robes for a scene where I baptized him in a lake. Next to that was a photo from my early reporter days interviewing Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw in Pittsburgh. Then several screaming roller-coaster shots and a collection of Christmas card pictures of the kids over the years, stretching from the backyard of Gracie Mansion to the Eiffel Tower to the Golden Gate Bridge.
In the car heading toward midtown I wondered what to tell Ed. How do you catch someone up on 30 years of your life? (Should I pick the 10 best to start with? Would we feel comfortable? What if he didn't notice I was thinking tall?)
I arrived, called him on the house phone, and practiced my Lamaze breathing. Finally he answered and said in a professional tone, "I'll be down in a few minutes. I'm just finishing a business call." But when he stepped out of the elevator, he looked so freshly showered that I couldn't help but kid him.
"There wasn't really a business call, was there?"
Busted! He gave me exactly the same mischievous grin I remembered from school and admitted he might have taken a little extra time to look good for me. We both felt instantly at ease.
"When I was getting ready to see Donna," Ed later told some of his friends, "I couldn't help but wonder if time and circumstances had taken their toll, but she looked absolutely great! It was her glow and, as corny as it may sound, the light in her eyes that transported me back. It was as if nothing had changed. She exuded so much energy and magnetism, I immediately felt comfortable. And attracted. It was as if time had stood still." (A girl can't hear too much of this stuff. I sometimes ask him to repeat it.)
Ed was wearing a classic blue blazer and gray slacks. His hair was the same luminous brown I remembered. It took about two seconds for me to notice that he was in terrific shape—slim, muscular, and agile. He had been quite the athlete in his youth, a pitcher with a no-hitter under his belt and a quarterback who could throw a spiral right on the numbers. It was obvious that he still worked out. And then there was that handsome face! Friends have kidded me that I'm lucky; he is a definite "10." But I would have been equally attracted even if he weren't so smashingly gorgeous. There was an immediate chemistry between us just as there had been when we were kids.
This was going to be fun.
Reprinted by arrangement with Hudson Street Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from "My Boyfriend's Back by Donna Hanover. Copyright © 2005 by Donna Hanover