How did you meet your better half? Did you fall for them in high school? Did you run into a friend a few years after an absence from them and an interest sparked? Did a mutual friend set you up? My story is a twist on the latter. Most couples will share their story and fall into one of the above categories. However, the way that my husband and I met is not your usual story, but it’s a fun story. Usually when I share my story I get asked questions. Lots of questions.
Circa the mid 1990’s, Bill Clinton is President of the United States, the OJ Simpson trial is making headlines, and Justin Bieber, born on March 1st, 1994, is just a twinkle in his daddy’s eye. It’s 1993 and the internet is still a few years off. A young lady in her twenties is searching for the man of her dreams. One who will raise her children and buy her a house and take walks along the beach with her. Wait, this isn’t the Bachelor. This is reality. None-the-less, she wishes there was a place to go where she could flip through a brochure and pick and choose her Prince Charming. He’ll have reddish hair and good looks and strong shoulders and a good sense of humor. He’ll have a place for God in his life and yet be a little rebellious all at the same time. Ah, a girl can dream, can’t she?
Back to the real world of working all day, sleeping as late as possible on the weekends and going out with friends on Saturday night. All the good guys from high school seem to be taken. The college guys I met while away at college are now back in their home towns working and trying to become somebody. There doesn’t seem to be a good guy around. The guys I meet at clubs are all in it for the one night stand, and I’m really not that kind of girl. I’m praying to God for a miracle. Just let me run into a guy who has a few of the qualities I’m seeking. If not, I may as well join the convent and be a nun the rest of my life. This is how I felt. Desperate and yet, waiting for something I didn’t know at the time would change my life.
Every now and then, I receive junk mail for a dating company called Great Expectations. It comes again and it’s not the first time. I think they send out this stuff every six months. It asks you to take a survey and mail it back and they’ll try to match you up with somebody else with the same likes and dislikes. Are you serious? I’ll be the laughing stock of my family, meeting a guy through a dating service. I throw the junk mail away again. How do they even know I’m single? I’ll meet my guy the normal way. My friend sets me up with a guy who wants to take me home to see his gun collection. I tell him I really need to get home to take care of my sick grandma. I hope God forgives me for telling a little white lie.
I get a letter in the mail. It’s from Laura Mitchell. Who is Laura Mitchell? I open the letter and read the pages inside. This letter is inviting me to go to a local dating service center and find out more about getting to know guys who live in the area. The company is named Laura Mitchell. I look up to the heavens and ask God if this is a sign from Him. I threw out all the other Great Expectations and now I get this mail piece about trying out a very local dating service. The letter sits on my desk for a few days. I pick it up later and re-read the invitation. Laura Mitchell. What do I have to lose? I look up the address in the phone book and head over to the place which is about 15 minutes from my apartment. I gingerly walk inside and am greeted by a vibrant lady who must get the same approach by all who enter. Once inside I realize I made a terrible mistake and I want to leave. It’s too late and as she has me in sight, she extends out her hand and welcomes me with zest and zeal.
She shows me around and takes me back into a small room. She asks questions and we talk about my intentions. She thinks I should complete one of their surveys. Oh no, not the survey, my anxiety is returning. What are your likes and dislikes? What are you looking for in a relationship? I reluctantly complete it. As I look around I see stacks of binders on shelves against the far walls. They are in alphabetical order. She catches my glance and explains that the binders on the left are for the guys who want to flip through and see and read up on prospective girls. The binders stacked on the right are for the girls who want to flip through and read about the prospective guys. How personal and yet so impersonal. She sees my blank stare and takes a binder off the shelf. She flips open to a random page to a random guy. She lets me see his profile. His picture is of a guy with sandy blond hair. He has tons of acne, but if you looked beyond that he seems like a nice guy. He likes classic cars and swimming. He’s looking for a short term relationship and no kids. Hm-mm. Not for me, but I could get used to this searching and looking without having to play all the dating games. The friendly lady continues to show me the process. If you see a guy you are interested in, you go over here and pull his video. You can watch a 15 minute video of him answering questions and then you’ll get a glimpse of his character and his demeanor. She continues telling me, if you think you want to meet him, then we can contact him and tell him to come on in. He will read your profile and watch your video to see if he is interested in you. If it is a mutual feeling, then we give you his number and you contact him and get to know him and proceed from there, she concludes. I thought it was a good way to work myself into a relationship without the hassles.
I sign up that night and come back a few days later on my day off and begin the search for the man of my dreams. Several hours later I am tired, dazed and confused. I have three prospects chosen out of hundreds I viewed. This is going to take forever. I hand the three prospects to the attendant, it’s a different lady from the other day, but this one is just as bubbly. You can tell she was a match maker in another life. She says she’ll contact the guys. I’ll hear from them soon, she reassures me. I start to feel like I felt when I handed my number to a guy at a club. He promises to call so you just sit and wait by the phone at home. Remember it’s 1993 and there is no Facebook, no other social networking, no e-mail, and very little use of cell phones. Only the elite have cell phones in 1993, besides, they weigh a ton.
Two out of the three guys call and after talking with one for a little over an hour I realize he is not my type. He tells me he would like to talk again and I hang up knowing it’s not going to happen. The second guy is not looking too good either. He is into things I can’t mention here and I quickly tell me I have to go someone is at the door. Another white lie to get me out of a conversation headed south. Back to the drawing board. I wait a few days and head back in for another shot at Mr. Right. The fee for six months for this open book searching is a small fortune for a girl in her twenties with her own apartment and a car payment. Deep inside I know it’s a small price to pay if Mr. Right is nestled between the covers of those binders. This time I’m a little more careful and yet I broaden my scope to include guys who are not similar to guys from my past. The first time I was specifically looking for a certain type, like guys who were similar to guys I liked in high school and college. This time I look beyond their looks and beyond their likes and I carefully watch a few videos. I particularly like this red headed guy who eventually wants a long term relationship. He is two years older than me and he has cute little freckles in and around his face. He wants kids just like I do and he is not Christian, but wants to meet up with somebody who is so he can pursue his belief in God. I like this guy on paper. I take his info and add it to another prospect and call it a day. I’m tired and I’ll come back in a few days to continue down the alphabet.
I got home and in just a few hours I get a call from this guy. He says his name and he’s the red head who was my favorite. We talk for a few minutes, then it turns into an hour. I can tell he is kind and has a good heart, just by how he talks and responds to the questions I have for him. He asks me a few questions and I know this guy is special. I feel it even though I have not yet met him in person. Our busy schedules keep us from meeting for the first time, but we continue to talk on the phone for the next week or so. We get to the point where we feel like we’ve known each other all our lives. The next Saturday he plans to take me out. The dating center suggest that the location of the first meeting should be in a popular location, during the day, where others are around for safety reasons. He tells me he is going to pick me up and we are going on a train ride down the coast to San Diego. I agree to it.
The day turned out to be the best day of my life as we hit it off from the start and never looked back. We took the train, walked the boardwalk, had fish and chips for lunch, over looking the bay. We went on a tour of a museum pirate ship and there was a point where there were steep steps leading down into the bottom level of the ship. He took my hand and helped me down and never let it go until we were almost home hours later. We had dinner on Balboa Island over-looking the water. The San Diego skyline glowed with a neon outline among the downtown buildings and created a very romantic setting as we headed back on the small ferry that took us to the mainland where we took the last train back home.
We are happily married going on 18 years of marriage. We have four wonderful children. A few years ago we took the family down to San Diego on the train and rekindled many fond memories. I’ll never forget our good friend Laura Mitchell, who brought us together in a most unusual way.