When Susan Met Anthony …
Susan and Anthony Nolan
Playing Cupid gave me opportunity to talk with him outside work
Newly single in her late 30s, my friend Lisa lamented the absence of single men. “How does anyone find someone?”
Then it happened. She had met someone, and he was kind, funny, smart and handsome.
“How did you meet?” I wondered, after all her disappointment.
“Penitentiary pen-pal program,” she answered.
Stunned into silence, I did not want to know more.
But the question stayed with me.
IF I were looking for love, where would I find it?
My mother suggested church. “Single men do not go to church,” I told her — “unless they live with their mothers.”
Another relative had a bold idea. “You go downtown to that Senate Office Building and introduce yourself to Lindsey Graham. He’s single and he’s a South Carolinian.” I rolled my eyes, remembering Gerald O’Hara telling Scarlett, “It matters not who you marry, daughter. Just as long as he is a southerner and thinks like you.”
My friend Melissa pulled dating websites up on her computer. “See? See? Hundreds of thousands of available men looking for someone. You can’t tell me you wouldn’t be compatible with at least one of them.”
I was asking, but I wasn’t looking. I enjoyed being single.
Yet friends and co-workers kept trying to set me up. Happily married colleague Ed whispered, “Our new assistant division chief is single.”
“I am never, ever dating anyone I meet at work. That’s just so inappropriate,” I told him.
“You have so many other appropriate ways to meet men?”
I changed the subject. I was getting good at that.
Cathy, my supervisor, also told me about our new division chief. She came back from a meeting singing his praises. “Anthony’s a good listener. Don’t you find that an unusual and appealing quality in a man?”
Finally, to prove I would “never, ever date anyone I meet at work,” I plotted to find him another woman.
Mary seemed a likely candidate. Like Anthony, she was in her 40s, never married, Roman Catholic, with a large extended family including many adored nieces and nephews. They both enjoyed travel and the outdoors. I could introduce them at the art gallery she managed.
He agreed. Mary agreed and offered the bonus of inviting a single guy for me to meet. “There’s less pressure in a larger group,” she said.
It went off beautifully. Everybody liked everybody. But there wasn’t any chemistry.
I continued my efforts to find a match for our assistant division chief. Playing Cupid gave me opportunity to talk with him outside work. Our friendship grew. But no matter whom I introduced, Anthony was uninterested.
Eventually, he explained why.
One evening after a workshop together, I found the following message on my answering machine:
“I want you to know I am an intelligent person. I’m well-educated. I’m well-read. I’m well-traveled. Yet when I am in your presence, I am speechless. Why is that?”
I swooned, realizing I would never find a suitable match for this man because he was smitten with me. It could have been a scene from a Jane Austen novel — had Emma Woodhouse an answering machine.
Our courtship was brief. We married a few months later. We’ve shared 11 action-packed years in which we have treated the traditional wedding vows of for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health like a to-do list, checking off each item a dozen times over. Our failures and successes have brought us closer together and more in love.
Friends and family still rib me about how I swore I would “never, ever date someone I meet at work,” and I laugh at how close-minded I once was. Now, I say yes to love wherever you find it — be it at church, a bar, the Senate or an online dating app.
As for Lisa and the guy she found via the penitentiary pen-pal program, she was right. He is kind, funny, smart handsome and — fortunately — reformed. They, too, will be celebrating their 12th wedding anniversary this year.
When Elisavietta Met Clyde …
Elisavietta Ritchie and Clyde Farnsworth
The wooing of a brilliant loner
Dissident Russian artists was my topic toward an M.A. at American University, so when Norton Dodge, professor of Russian economics and collector of Russian dissidents’ paintings, held a conference at his Cremona estate, where several émigré artists and their canvases would be present, I was delighted.
Guests included New York Times journalist Clyde Farnsworth, recently back from Paris. Guessing that Clyde had surely met the existentialist novelist Albert Camus, I settled next to him. Conversation revealed that Camus’ The Exile and the Kingdom reflected Clyde’s situation as a brilliant loner.
He scribbled his phone number on a matchbook. A month later I called: On my own after 24 years of a mostly good marriage, I didn’t suffer for lack of diversion. Nor did Clyde.
I could bring an escort to dinner at my father’s friend Dr. George Mishtowt’s. An evening of brilliant conversation and Russian songs, and Clyde was a baritone. He also practiced his violin daily …
Our respective children asked, “Why don’t you two get married?”
My answer: “He hasn’t asked me.”
Summer 1992, on the cusp of his transfer to Canada (I assumed another romance over), I drove him to a knee operation. Afterward I settled him in our guest bed while I slept on the couch, at midnight back to the ER, then home again to his bed of pain.
Suddenly at 2am he asked, “Why don’t we mosey down to the Prince Frederick courthouse tomorrow and pick up a license?”
I phoned Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, my doctor daughter, then a captain at a military hospital in South Korea. Her answer zoomed across the Pacific: “Do so quickly before the anesthesia wears off!”
Around the world and all these years later, we still have a cottage at Broomes Island and are settling in at Asbury Solomons.
When Amanda Met John …
Amanda Bowen and John Barnett
It was a time in my life where I was in this phase of do I go to college? Do I stick with the job I have?
A friend talks me into going with him to hunter safety classes at Meyers Station Nature Park in Odenton.
In class he leans over and says sorry that I don’t see any guys you would like here. I was a little confused because I didn’t know I was there to pick up a guy. Little did I know I would.
Night two, in the middle of discussing safety precautions in hunting turkey, I scan the room. In the back are two younger guys, arms folded, sitting low in their chairs.
Day three, we are out practicing loading our firearms and shooting at targets. That was my chance to approach the men, who I figured were brothers. Instead, the taller brother introduces himself to me. I’m not going to lie; as we talked, my eyes are elsewhere. Especially because as we talked, he is steadily texting an ex, who, he says, won’t leave him be.
Ummmmm thanks for the honesty … moving on from Jeremiah.
That evening, we’re invited to their house for a bonfire. The shorter brother, John Barnett, is off sitting by himself. I pull up a chair — and the rest is history.
Nine years and two beautiful babies later, at 27 we live in Galesville and are still having bonfires and enjoying the few chances we get to hunt together.
When Blair Met Jay …
Blair Dawson and Jay Weaver
The sandwich that stole my heart
We have been together ever since he posted a picture of a sandwich on Facebook three years ago.
In 2014, I lost my parents and decided I was going to live for me for once. I had gastric sleeve surgery, lost a lot of weight, started to go to the gym and enjoy myself. Well, he posted the picture of that sandwich, and I just had to comment on it. We met three days later, and we’ve been together ever since.
The sandwich is called a Wedgy, and it’s from a little place in Knox, Pennsylvania. We’ve gone and had it three times. It’s one of my favorite things.
I am 35, and Jay is 51 and we have been together three years and are now engaged.
When Diana Met Gary …
Diana and Gary Dinsick
Sure that our romance was over, I wrote him a formal goodbye
We met at a college dance at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Student Union. Our reasons for being there were as divergent as our personalities. He was an outgoing and focused sophomore preparing for an Army career. I was a starry-eyed 17-year-old, uncertain what I wanted in life but knowing I wanted to share it with someone.
At first glance upon meeting him, I saw only brownness. Jeans, sweater, shoes, eyes, hair — everything was brown. Framing his sun-bronzed face were the worst eyeglasses I’d ever seen. Later on, once we knew each other better, he told me he’d hated the pantsuit I was wearing that night.
From the beginning, ours was a push-pull relationship. I was the student, the introvert; he thrived on running with the guys. Three years later, after his graduation, he was commissioned a lieutenant in the Army and left for a three-year assignment in Germany. Sure that our romance was over, I even wrote him a formal goodbye.
It was a lonely time, my senior year without him. I got down. Even my sociology professor remarked on the change in me. When I confided my situation, my prof informed me that my soldier would find someone else.
I know, I whispered back.
His reply: “Why don’t you find a man and spend your life making him happy?”
Still, my erstwhile beau kept writing. Nine months later, I married him in beautiful Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Forty-three years, three children and a long Army career later, we’re still together. He’s still my Valentine.
When Amy Met Michael …
Amy Stielper and Michael Malone
We met when I took his job
During the early 1990s, Michael Malone clerked for a judge in Leonardtown. At the end of the one-year position, the judge hired me, and Michael spent the next few weeks training me.
The odds were against us, as he was returning home to Anne Arundel County to practice law, and we both were seeing other people.
But after two weeks together, poring over law books and dissecting trials, Michael asked me out.
“No, I’m going shopping with my mother,” I answered — but followed up that lame but true excuse with “I’m free the next night.”
We married a year later. Now I joke that Michael learned early that his chocolate is mine, his bedcovers are mine and his job was mine.
The irony? I now work for Michael in his law practice. He is also a delegate representing central Anne Arundel County.
When Esperison Met Gladys …
Marty and Gladys Martinez
He had pawned his watch so he could pay for a cab that night
My grandparents, Esperison “Marty” Martinez and Gladys Bradley, met a few weeks before Valentine’s Day on a bitter January night in 1952. At 18 years old, he was a newly capped seaman duce sailor, stationed at Quonset Point Naval Air Station. She was a much more mature 20-year-old, living in a little house with her parents and two younger sisters and working a steady job for an insurance company.
Their meeting should have been highly unlikely given that his base was some 20 miles away, he was without a car, and he had very little cash. But that Saturday night brought them together at a Polish community dance hall, a popular spot for locals to dance the polka.
She was there with six other girls, sitting at a table having drinks, when he and his friend showed up. He got up the nerve to approach and ask one of the girls for a dance. She said no. Never the type to be easily defeated, he moved on to the next girl, my grandmother. She was also a hard sell; she looked him up and down and said, Well, okay.
On the dance floor they swayed to Eddie Fisher’s Anytime, and ended up talking late into the night.
When it was time to leave, he offered to take her home. Earlier he had pawned his watch for the evening’s cash so he had enough to pay for a cab. It must have impressed my grandmother, for they arranged for a second date, which evolved into many more slow dances and a dinner to meet her folks, all before a church wedding on October 11 of that same year.
Some said their marriage would never last due to the mere nine months of dating, but two kids, four grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and 65 years of marriage later, the Annapolitans have given up on the time clock and now do “Whatever it is that may move us to contentment.”
When Ariel Met Pat …
Ariel Martinez-Brumbaugh and Patrick Beall
At my recommendation, we got friendlier
We were friends of friends first, then just friends and then friends who sometimes kissed under a starry sky when we got caught up in the moment. Then, one June day in 2006, we made plans to go kayaking with friends, but only Pat and I showed up. We paddled across Herring Bay and then back into a marsh. Sensing that tension in the air that only comes with new romance, we opted for a bit of adventure and tied our boats to a tree in favor of marsh mucking. We picked around submerged logs and sank up to our knees. We emerged on the shore muddy and laughing. I remember stretching out on a bed of marsh grasses and talking until the sun began to set.
A few weeks later, at my recommendation, we went on our first date. In the following years, we endured international separations, moved in and out of apartments together, traveled with friends and have since settled into a world of “I have to work late tonight” and “Whose turn is it to take out the trash?”
Eleven years after that June day, at my recommendation, Pat proposed.
When Brad Met Linda …
Brad Wells and Linda Eversfield Wells
We shared a room before we fell in love
We met in the Tampa airport in June of 2005. We were both going to a mutual friend’s wedding and the younger sibling Jane convinced us to all share the same room to save money for partying. Everything was PG, and we had a great time.
Leaving Tampa was pretty awkward because we both knew the situation was a long shot. The only thing I could think to do was mock her dimples by poking my inflated cheeks and twisting my fingers into them, saying “Bye, Dimples.” Game on point!
She claims that she fell for me because I’m a dork.
We remained friends for three years while talking long-distance every day.
Eventually I decided she was never leaving Maryland so decided to pull up my roots from Kentucky and replant on the Bay. Those roots have now grown into a six-year marriage and two beautiful children.
When Michelle Met Leisha …
Michelle Farley and Leisha Suggs
Coffee with a hint
When I moved to College Park in the fall of 2006 to start graduate school, I quickly fell into a habit of getting coffee at the student union coffee shop on my way to class. One of the baristas always remembered my drink, and we started chatting for a few minutes when it wasn’t too busy.
In early November, after I had been gone for a week for a conference, the barista handed me a folded piece of receipt tape with my drink. She had written her social media contact in the giant black crayon they used to mark the cups.
The first time we hung out, I was swamped with coursework, and she offered to come with me to photograph my assigned site for a paper. That led to more hanging out.
We’ve now been together for over 11 years, married for almost five. We married the day the law changed in Minnesota, where we moved after I graduated in 2008.
Leisha was born and raised in Saint Mary’s County, where most of her Suggs family still lives. She taught me the importance of Old Bay seasoning, stuffed ham, and how to properly pick a blue crab. She now works as a therapist to homeless youth and receives a lot of compliments on her Maryland Terrapins lanyard.
When Jessica Met Steve …
Jessica and Steve Grzybowski
At senior week, I fell for the person who drove me absolutely crazy in high school
Our story starts in first grade at Lothian Elementary, where we went to school together and had numerous classes with one another. Those classes continued through middle and high school. Though we went to the same school, we never really noticed each other. I was a spirited cheerleader, and Steve was an old country boy who couldn’t have cared less about school.
Our senior year, our good mutual friend’s mom worked in the office, and I was her assistant for one of my classes. Her son and Steve came in to bother me every day, but there was no romance between us. I used to tell her I felt sorry for whatever girl married either one of them.
After graduation I headed to Ocean City for a week with my girls, while Steve headed to Florida with a buddy. They arrived just before a hurricane, so turned around and drove to Ocean City. As we had mutual friends, Steve ended up at our condo for parties and sorts.
Back home, I asked a mutual friend for his number because we had had a pretty good time at the beach. After two weeks of him blowing me off, we have been together ever since. We tied the knot on May 16, 2009, at the young ages of 21 and 20.
We have three beautiful children and will be married for nine years on our anniversary and together 12 years total in July. We both are South County-born and raised and now raising our own family in South County as well.
Never thought I would go to senior week and find a husband let alone one I’d known all my life.
When Julia Met Robbo …
Julia and Robert Howes
I loved his truck
I knew Robbo through our dads, who both were into classic cars. I had seen him a few times here and there, thought he was cute, but never really considered him like that. In 2012, my mom and I were at 7-Eleven in Deale when he pulled in. He was driving his lifted 1984 Chevy Scottsdale, and I loved the truck. I said hi to him, and we had small talk. I asked him about the two girls in his truck (who turned out to be his cousin and her friend), and he said if I went out with him, he would leave them there. I gave him my number but didn’t go with him.
Less than a month later we were dating. He was 18, and I was 15. Everyone said we were too young, but we got married anyway and have been married for 121⁄2 years now. We have a beautiful seven-year-old daughter, bought the house he grew up in and his parents built, both work in South County and own a commercial crabbing business.
When Pam Met Billy …
Pamela and Bill Krug
A glimpse into the future
We grew up seven houses apart and have been best friends since fourth grade. We became official when we were 19 years old.
When we were little, I was on a bike ride with my dad, and little Billy Krug came peddling up the street and said to my dad, “You know what, Mr. Gunnell? I love your daughter, and I’m going to marry her one day,” and then pedaled off. I was nine or 10 and remember being so embarrassed.
We are now 37 and have been married for 13 years but have been together forever. We have three children, ages 14, 11 and 8.
When Paula Met Ernest …
Paula Taylor Tillich and Ernest Willoughby
And vice versa
“Professor Willoughby would swipe the breakfast sweet roll I’d put on the far side of my desk in the corridor of the building where he had his office,” Paula recalls. “I was a graduate student in biology at Syracuse University where he was a biology professor.”
Ernest’s retelling of that time at St. Mary’s College is a little different. “She ate a sweet roll every morning for breakfast and began leaving a fresh one on the edge of her desk, knowing I would pass every morning on my way to my office.”
This mute communication continued until one day …
Forty-five years later they are retired, having raised three children, living at Asbury Solomons.
When Jessica Met Michael …
Jessica and Michael Hickman
He rolled down the window and hollered … then Love Story
We met at the stoplight in Edgewater on Solomons Island Road by Lee Airport.
I was 17, and he was 22. I was in my truck, and he was in his.
I was sitting at the red light with my hair down and window down, looking all fabulous in my big truck and jamming out. He was turning in by Ledo’s to go to the gas station.
As he pulled up to the pump, I decided to show off and rolled down my other window as I pulled in after him. He ran up and asked for my number. Thank God I gave him the right one.
That was September 2009. We’ve been married for over four years now and have two kiddos and a house in South County.
When Heather Met Bobby …
Heather and Bobby Lamb
Some said we’d never last, and some may not have wanted us to
I was good friends with his sister, and he would be at the house when I would hang out there.
One night the three of us were supposed to go to the movies, but she backed out. I wasn’t sure about it but we decided to still go. Glad we did.
Things moved kind of fast. He eventually moved in with me, and not long after I became pregnant with our son. There were some that said we’d never last, and some that may not have wanted us to. Now he is 47, I am 46, and we celebrated 21 years of marriage in November. We live in Galesville with our son Justin, 21, and daughter Emily, 19.
Tricia and James Huffman
Workplace romance works out
My husband was one of our contractors at work. We’d had friendly conversation and joked around, but he was super shy. One day he insulted me by saying all I do is sit there and look pretty. It went from there.
I am 30, James is 35. We have been married four years and have four kids.
When Leigh Met Nick …
Leigh Glenn and Nick Beschen
A decade of gentle nudges
We met in January of 2008 through his older brother, a cheeky fellow, to whom I free-cycled a couple of gardening books and women’s overalls for his wife.
Older brother and younger drove together to a niece’s wedding in Florida in May 2008 and got to talking women. Nick had not been in a relationship for a while and his brother told him he knew “this woman” but wasn’t sure how to connect us. “You can just give me her number,” Nick said.
We spoke by phone. I loved his voice (Bay Weekly readers who have frequented community theaters may know that voice, too, as Nick has been in many productions over the years).
Our first date, he drove to Tysons, and we walked to Clyde’s. The second date, a week later, I drove to Annapolis. We were fortunate that, despite a storm, the power came back on in time to prepare and enjoy scallops, rice and broccoli before heading to Rams Head to hear Last Train Home. After the concert, we talked. All. Night. (Not since college had I stayed up all night talking with anyone.)
It’s nearly a decade later, and I love him more than ever.
When Tracy Met Chris …
Tracy and Chris Roy
We found each other on CB radio — twice
We didn’t have internet back in the day. I stole my dad’s CB radio because it fascinated me (and to be in touch with a boyfriend). In my travels and meeting new people on the radio, I hit it off as friends with one guy who was then engaged.
After his marriage didn’t work out, he came looking for me just as my CB radio fad was coming to a close. We met back up and started hanging out together, and one thing led to another.
Thirty-two years later we are still friends, married for 25 years this September.
When Kim Met BJ …
Kim and BJ Welch
A match made in a music-lovers chat room
We met in 2004 in a chat room on AOL. He was a musician looking for local support for his band. I was a newly graduated 18-year-old ready to leave my home in Baltimore.
We officially started dating on July 2, 2004, and quickly got pregnant (whoops!). We married October 22, 2005, and now have five children. Four boys: Corey, Josh, Billy and Austin. Then our miracle girl Dixie who was born April 2016, at just 27 weeks, weighing one pound. Almost 14 years later, this young marriage is still going strong.