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A Pandemic Romance Worth the Wait, and the ‘Schlep’

Three months after they were introduced, Dr. Abby Brecher and Gregory Alan Marcus finally met in May 2020 for a walk in Riverside Park in Manhattan.

“I never dated casually,” said Dr. Brecher, 34, a pediatric dentist at Slim Dental Kids in Manhattan. “I wanted to have a lifelong partner. I could have plenty of fun with my girlfriends.”

Dr. Brecher, also a clinical assistant professor at Touro College of Dental Medicine in Hawthorne, N.Y., graduated cum laude from CUNY Hunter and received a dental degree from Columbia.

As far as one of her girlfriends, a periodontist, could tell, Mr. Marcus was also ready to settle down. So at the end of February 2020, with a little help from his father, her friend set them up. (She works with Mr. Marcus’s father, an endodontist, who runs a dental practice in Huntington, N.Y.)

Mr. Marcus, 37, is an associate general counsel at Arbor Realty Trust, a real estate investment trust in Manhattan, and is pursuing an M.B.A. at N.Y.U. He graduated with honors from Northeastern University and received a law degree from Touro Law Center in Central Islip, N.Y.

Days after being set up, he called Dr. Brecher to invite her for a drink after work the next week on the Upper West Side, where she lived.

He then agonized over a cold sore, and not looking his best.“I told her the truth on the phone,” he said, and asked if they could hold off for another week.

Dr. Brecher agreed, but quickly texted friends.

“‘What kind of guy says that,’” she asked, and they all had a good laugh over it.

By the time his cold sore vanished, Covid appeared. They postponed the date again.

“It’s looking wild out there,” said Mr. Marcus, who was then living in Great Neck, N.Y. and recalled thinking, “Is this worth the schlep into the city?”

By mid-May, he was ready to give the date a shot. Seconds after they met at West 66th Street for a walk in Riverside Park they removed their masks, and an hour or so later they waved goodbye by his car.

[Click here to binge read this week’s featured couples.]
Credit…Rachel Koudellou Photography

The next weekend they spoke while riding bicycles side by side around the Central Park loop. During a picnic in Riverside Park the following week, they had a frank conversation about what they were looking for in a relationship. Later, Mr. Marcus asked if he could kiss her.

“Let’s hug instead,” she said.

Ouch.

“I grew up Orthodox Jewish,” said Dr. Brecher, who went to an all-girls Yeshiva with her twin sister.“My mom is Chinese. My dad wanted us to be very modest.”

Mr. Marcus, who moved to the Upper East Side in June 2020, asked a close friend if he should “drop the whole thing.” Dr. Brecher discussed “the hug” with friends, who urged her to call him to explain. She did.

She invited him over for dinner a couple of weeks later, aware of his many allergies, which include peanuts — but luckily not Peanut, her Cocker Spaniel. Later, they had their first kiss.

More quality time together followed. They went on hikes and a rock scramble, and spent Rosh Hashana with each other’s families.

“Each time we hung out I liked him even more,” Dr. Brecher said. “He was so open, vulnerable and patient.”

By March 2021, she told him she wanted to get married by the end of the year.

“I’m always going to be nervous about commitment,” he said, “but I’m confident I could make that work.”

She soon calmed him down. “This is one small step,” he recalled her saying. “There will be a million steps.” In late July, he proposed in her apartment.

The couple were wed on Oct. 10. Rabbi Neil Kurshan officiated before 80 vaccinated guests, in a tent with a carpeted dance floor, where they danced the night away outside the Woodbury, N.Y., house of the groom’s parents.

“Greg’s adjusting very nicely to this change,” Dr. Brecher said. “The tables have turned,” she added with a laugh. “I’m still processing everything.”

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