We met in the olden days; in early 1996. It was at the tail-end of the bar scene and blind dates, but before the internet, which was still about three years from popular and extended use. The arena for introductions at that time was the widespread use of personal ads in the print media.
In order to get out of the hospital in mid December, I promised the doctor I would stay home with an elevated foot and ice bags. That’s another story and only minimally related to this one. As you can imagine, staying home with an elevated foot gets boring pretty quickly and there’s only so much daytime TV you can tolerate. To pass the time I started reading the Los Angeles Times, cover to cover, and discovered, with great surprise, several pages of personal ads.
The way this worked was each ad had a phone box number. After calling the main number, you punched in the specific box number. The ad writer left a message amplifying their ad or just invited you to leave a message.
After a week or so I said, “What have I got to lose”? I answered a few ads and got some responses. One response seemed worth following up. We met for a cup of coffee. A glass of wine was the only other alternative. We each drove to our meeting so we had our own escape. Dinner would take too long if it wasn’t working out.
The first meet-up was okay, so we arranged a date after Christmas for dinner and then followed up with another date to see the “Waiting to Exhale” movie and dinner.
That seemed about as far as it needed to go.
Knowing that answering ads was a numbers game, I kept reading and considering which ads to follow up with. In mid January, this ad appeared and stood out like a flashing red light at K-Mart.
It was a pretty standard ad in many ways, but what popped out for me was her inclusion of the word “INTELLIGENT.” That is not a description you see in many personal ads, particularly from the distaff gender.
I had to find out more. I called her box number and her greeting amplified her ad description to tell me, among other things, she liked ballet and opera.
By the way, my name is Art and I was fast approaching age 65. The she is Gabriele.
Now it was my turn. I told her I was a little over her age requirement, did not like ballet or opera and was not sure how financially secure I was; however, I was interested in the rest of her description and left my phone number.
She did call and we ended up exchanging a number of messages and calls. She worked downtown and I worked in West L.A. so we had some difficulty finding a time we could get together for coffee.
We knew we would be violating one of the basic rules of personal ad introductions, but the calls were interesting enough, so we said, “What the hey, let’s have dinner.”
We met at a local restaurant in the Marina. It was like no other introductory meeting I ever had. Usually at these introductions I had to carry and nurture the conversation with questions to draw my “date” out.
Not this time. Gabriele gave me the third degree for over two hours. It was hard for me to get a question in. This was new and different, so I said to myself, “Let see where this goes.”
She asked me about everything in my life. We talked about my background, my business, my priorities, what I was looking for. It was an interrogation; almost like a verbal Rorschach Test.
We found a lot similarities and common areas in our resume and business experience. We were able to click on a number of different levels.
When dinner was over, we both obviously enjoyed the encounter. We exchanged a hug in the parking lot and agreed we wanted to see each other again.
Gabriele claims she called her daughter that night and said, “I found the guy. He was very honest in answering my ad, which doesn’t always happen, and he could be the one.”
Going through a nasty divorce, I was a lot more cautious. I’m not sure I felt as strongly as Gabriele, but I certainly wanted to explore this further…and explore we did. A year later, we bought a condo, somewhat later got married, and have visited 80 countries and all seven continents. It has been an adventure; a truly successful adventure.
This wasn’t our first movie. So based on past experience, we were able to communicate very openly right from the start and although we were both controlling personalities, we ceded authority alternately on major relationship responsibilities.
It’s never too late…but you need to take it one step at a time.
I’m Gabriele and I approve this message.