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Neither Impeachment Nor An ER Page Could Keep Them Apart

Nina Totenberg and David Reines at their wedding in 2000.
Courtesy of Nina Totenberg
Nina Totenberg and David Reines at their wedding in 2000.

Friday is the National Day of Listening, a chance to sit down with a loved one, turn on an audio recorder and ask that person about his or her life. NPR's Nina Totenberg chose to talk with her husband about how they first met — and then found one another again years later.

You can find tips on how to record your conversation at nationaldayoflistening.org.

When Nina Totenberg and David Reines first met, both were married to other people, and Totenberg's mother was serving as Reines' real estate broker.

The pair wouldn't see each other again for another six years, when Totenberg's father, the famous concert violinist Roman Totenberg, was performing in Boston. Reines was also there, and he caught a glimpse of Totenberg during intermission.

"And I walked over — because I was star-struck — and I said, 'Hi, how are you?' And you sort of looked at me with a blank expression."

"That's not true!" Totenberg laughs.

"And I said, 'How's Floyd?' — your late husband."

"And I said, 'Floyd died,' " Totenberg recalls. "And then I said, 'How's Gayle?' "

" 'She just died,' " Reines responded. "And there was this moment where we sort of looked at each other and we went, 'Ah!' "

But there were a couple of stumbling blocks ahead. Reines began calling Totenberg, he says, but then she "got all caught up in impeachment" — covering President Bill Clinton's, that is.

Eventually the pair went to a concert together, but Reines, a surgeon, got called away on an emergency.

Despite her date's early departure, "I suddenly realized I'd had a really great time, and that I'd been — oh, my God — flirting with you!" Totenberg tells Reines. "This was a moment I really didn't anticipate."

"Do you remember what you said to me when ... we were first really falling in love, and I said to you, 'Do you think we're just lucky?' " Totenberg asks.

"I said, it was — it was kismet," Reines replies. "Gayle was up in heaven, and your mother was up in heaven, and they thought it was great. And they went to Floyd, and he said, 'Eh, OK.' So all three of them signed off on it, we figured."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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