They moved through the chaos of the National Night Out Against Crime observance at Quiet Waters Park with shoulders touching and slight smiles that spoke of a love shared.
But it was the ankle-to-knee tattoos that confirmed their couple-ness.
His is Disney’s “Nightmare Before Christmas,” and hers is Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland.” Each consisted of 11 figures spiraling 18 inches around the lower leg — his right leg, her left — creating a symphony of color and design as they walked.
The tattoos were no small commitment. Each cost about $1,300 and took artist Chris Slota of Rock-A-Billy Tattoos in Sunrise about 35 hours.
That meant five trips from Coral Springs to Sunrise per tattoo, but Seth and Danielle Marks were ready for this public declaration of a private commitment.
“I was a single bachelor having fun, and she was a single mother with three kids, and we ended up moving in with all the craziness and making it work,” said Seth, 34.
What they shared was uncommon courage. Danielle was 9 when she decided she was meant for the military at her grandfather’s funeral.
“They played taps,” she said, recalling the American flag covering the casket of the navy veteran, and “from that point on, I was going to be in the military.”
Fourteen years later, Danielle found herself in the U.S. Air Force, in charge of 63 male and four female cadets. When the men refused to come to attention, she said, she memorized the roster. A day later, she called every name from memory, demanding a response one name at a time.
“I had to prove to these guys I was one of them,” she said.
She could do 110 push-ups — weight on her feet, not the knees — and 225 sit-ups in two minutes. If her men dismantled a gun in 32 seconds, she did it in 30.
When her husband of six years deserted her and their three children after her discharge, she drove home to her parents in Coral Springs and got a job working the graveyard shift as a police dispatcher in Plantation.
One night in 2009, she stopped at her sister’s party in Tamarac and met Seth, who asked for her phone number.
“Dude, if you remember my name in the morning, call me,” she responded. “I’ve got three kids. You are a fast flirt. Just run in the other direction.”
Seth remembers that exchange differently: “She told me about her ex-husband and her three kids, and thought it would sway me. I fell in love with her. I saw something in her — her personality, her smarts, her positivity.”
Two months later, he said, he asked her to move into his house in Coral Springs. The tattoos, he said, were an engagement present.
They married in 2012 on St. Patrick’s Day at Maggiano’s in Boca Raton. Drinks were free, courtesy of the happy couple, and 200 people showed up.
Soon after, Seth voiced his long-postponed desire to join the U.S. Army. “If this is something you really want to do,” she said, “I will back you on it.”
On Nov. 8, 2013, Seth left for Afghanistan to clear military routes of bombs and Improvised Explosive Devices. On Aug. 6, he shipped out again for a month-long deployment, with no idea where he would be.
It will be like that until he’s discharged in 2017, moving through the chaos of separate lives joined by love and those tattoos.
“You know how couples go out and get a heart or a star, something symbolic?” he said. “We wanted to get a couples’ tattoo — but something no one else had ever done.”
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