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Married for close to 20 years, Laura and Harry Slatkin are home fragrance luminaries. Here, how their love bloomed—and why it almost didn’t.
Laura Slatkin: He was dating a friend of mine. I thought she was wasting her time.
Harry Slatkin: I couldn’t stand Laura when I first met her.
L.S.: Two years later, I was chairing a charity event and we needed an additional chair…someone suggested Harry. For the sake of the charity, I agreed to meet him for drinks. I remember that night like it was yesterday. He looked so handsome…so gentlemanly…I remember saying to myself, “hmmm…”.
H.S.: We became best friends. We did everything together. We went out to dinner…we went to the movies. In the summertime, we drove back and forth to the Hamptons together. I called her every night; we became very, very close. I was a popular bachelor at the time—I still had all my hair. And after every blind date, I raced home to talk to Laura.
L.S.: I developed a huge crush on Harry but never said anything for an entire year. I waited for Harry to express an interest. But nothing ever happened. One day Harry asked me if I wanted to go to Atlantic City for the weekend. I thought, “This is very serious, he’s asked me to go away with him for the weekend.” So I went shopping—I bought a beautiful new dress and a very sexy silk negligee. I got a manicure… pedicure…I had my hair done. I was all set. Nothing happened. I was very upset. I vowed I would get Harry out of my head. It was time to self-protect.
H.S.: That year I was honored at the Bachelors’ Ball. Laura was my date. We had a great time. The next morning, a good friend called and said, “Harry, I was going to set you up with my friend but I can’t. I saw you dancing with Laura and I can tell by the way she looks at you….Laura is in love with you.” I hung up the phone and I said to myself, “Wow! I’m in love with Laura.” I decided right then I wanted to change the relationship so I asked Laura if she wanted to go to Atlantic City for the weekend.
L.S.: I was happy to go because I wasn’t doing anything that weekend anyway. I worked on Wall Street at the time and we just brought public Sam & Libby Shoes and the company gave everyone a Sam & Libby T-shirt with pictures of shoes all over it. I tossed that into my suitcase. I was good to go!
H.S.: We gambled, but I had no interest. At 9 p.m. I said, “Let’s go back to our rooms, get into something more comfortable and watch a movie together.”
L.S.: Get into something comfortable? All I had was my Sam & Libby T-shirt. Harry knocked at my door, and there he stood: monogrammed pajamas, a Sulka robe, velvet slippers and a waft of cologne trailing behind him.
H.S.: Out of the bathroom came Laura in her T-shirt. I thought to myself, “I need to work on her lingerie.” A trip to Montenapoleone and La Perla was added to my list.
L.S.: We watched Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. We lay down, and Harry put his arm around me. From that moment on we stayed frozen. Neither of us moved an inch all night.
H.S.: On the way home, we stopped for coffee and there was a blind man selling heart-shaped key chains that said “I Love You.” I bought one and leaned over and kissed Laura. She smiled.
L.S.: That following Friday I invited Harry over for a romantic dinner. Three months later we were engaged.
H.S.: That amazing foundation of friendship has enabled us to work together, overcome challenges and keep us happily married for 19 years.
L.S.: For Valentine’s Day this year I gave Harry a heart-shaped box from Tiffany and inside was the key chain. I still have it after all these years. The “I Love You” has faded a bit, but not in our relationship.