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Some sixteen years ago Laurel placed a personals ad in Willamette Week. This was in the ancient pre-online days, so I read about this 40 y.o. aware, fit, well-educated, independent, successful, attractive, blonde, long-haired SWF as I was thumbing through a Willamette Week copy that I had picked up at the state Capitol. This enticing and absolutely accurate description got me to write a letter to Box 601 that evening.
As of today we’ve been married fifteen years. Thank you, Willamette Week. By the way, karmically speaking it was interesting that a personals ad in a Portland publication brought together a Salem man and a woman who lived fairly close, outside of Silverton. Even more (play Twilight Zone music in your head now), we both were Isuzu Trooper owners!
Last year I wrote about how we got married just eight months after we met. I broke, no I smashed to smithereens, the ridiculous relationship rule that you hear repeated so often: “When you get divorced, don’t make any serious personal decisions for at least a year.” That may be good advice for some people. But not for others. When you know that someone is right for you, why wait to make a commitment?
It wouldn’t have taken us even eight months to get married if there hadn’t been a several week communication hitch after I wrote my first letter to Laurel. The two and a half page single-spaced description of my marvelous qualities (I could have gone on for quite a bit longer, but wanted to project at least a veneer of humility) piqued Laurel’s interest. She phoned the home number I had given her and my daughter, Celeste, answered.
“Is Brian available?” “No, can I take a message?” “That’s all right; I’ll call back.” Experienced in the perils and pitfalls of dating, Laurel thought that Celeste might be my wife. She had skipped over a line at the bottom of page 2: “I have a 17 year-old daughter who is living with me.”
Laurel kept on calling. Celeste kept on answering. And I kept on getting frustrated when I’d come home and hear my daughter say, “That woman called again but she wouldn’t leave a message.” Thankfully, we finally connected. First by phone and then at a Salem Mexican restaurant where, foreshadowing the past fifteen years, I had to sit and wait for fifteen minutes while Laurel took her sweet time showing up for our first date.
She was worth the wait then. Much more so now. Tonight we’re planning to go out for a vegetarian dinner at our favorite place to eat, the Marco Polo Global Restaurant. If Laurel isn’t ready to go when I am, which is a near-certainty, I’ll spend the time mentally singing the praises of the Willamette Week personals—which are now available online.
Looking over them just now I notice that a few things have changed since Laurel and I met. The quick menu options are divided into “personals” and “no strings attached.” A count of several categories revealed that the “personals” are evenly divided between the number of women seeking men (51) and men seeking women (47). But in the “no strings attached” category, there was just 1 woman wanting a man, but 13 men wanting a woman (apparently no-stringers “want,” while personals “seek”).
For fifteen years I’ve been happy to be strung to Laurel. I was a seeker back in 1989, as was Laurel. Her ad said that she “seeks a mate to share the mysteries and pleasures of life.” She found one.
At the time I fulfilled all of her listed personal ad criteria except for the “values dogs” item. I ended my first letter to Laurel with, “By the way, I should admit that dogs are not my favorite creatures in life. I had dogs when I was growing up, but only cats since then. Yet it seemed that this difference paled in comparison to all the other things we appeared to have in common.”
After Laurel’s psychotic German Shepherd, Tasha, died and we got the gentle Wonder Dog, Serena, I was pleased that Laurel could now cross that final criterion off of her “man has to be…” list.
Bottom line: It pays to advertise. Someone out there has, or is, just what you’re looking for.