Courtship tales from our readers

We asked readers to share how they wooed their sweethearts.

Venus meets Mars

My husband and I met through an ad I had placed in a local, daily newspaper. A friend had met and married her husband through this section of the paper, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. My future husband responded to my ad titled "Sci-fi Fan" because I was the only "non-smoker and non-drinker with a good heart and morals" he'd ever seen.

What a courtship! He "wined and dined" me with Pepsi and Sprite, and sent me flowers, balloons, and funny cards "from your favorite Martian." I was hooked! We married two-and-a-half years later with my "Sci-fi Fan ad" printed on a shower invitation. Not so bad for a woman from Venus, eh?

Leslie and Alan Holmberg

Belle Plaine, MN

Lovers get with the program

I first met the love of my life while we were enrolled in a computer class in high school. According to her, she knew I was the one for her the minute I walked in the door. I, however, had no such premonition and was only interested in becoming part of the decoration at the back of the class. I was shy to the extreme.

However, it appears as though fate, the universe, or whatever, was working for me this time - and working very hard at that.

When I realized that I had already taken the same class, I went to cancel. Instead, I wound up becoming the teacher's aide. As the class progressed, there was one girl who always seemed to have more problems with her programs than anyone else. I would find her mistakes and help her correct them. I had no idea that I was being quietly manipulated - she was only pretending that she couldn't program.

Once, we accidentally met in the hall between classes and she said "Hi, Kyle" to me. I looked at her, then looked around me to see whom she was talking to. When I looked back at her I found that she was still looking at me and smiling. I decided that it was best if I just put my head down, kept walking, and pretended the whole thing never happened.

The prom was our first real "date" together. Before that, our relationship survived on being together before or after school. Her grandparents, whom she was living with during this time, refused to let her out on a regular date, so she would call me when she went out to a movie or the park with her friends and I would find a way to meet her there.

Today, despite the myriad obstacles thrown in our path, we are happily married and cherish every available moment we can spend together.

Kyle Ginney

Las Vegas, NV

Nepalese mistletoe

I was a trek guide, she was a client - in fact it was the last commercial trek I ever led. We spent 28 days walking across western Nepal, and spent a lot of time talking on the trail. I had an old-fashioned rule - after seeing some disasters - that I would not dally with clients. So we joined in the life of a dozen Americans and three dozen Nepali's walking across the Himalaya.

I have always claimed it was the aphrodisiac properties of a rare Himalayan insect that grows on the bottoms of rhododendron leaves up on Jaljala Pass that prompted me to kiss her the first time. Shortly after we came upon the creatures we kissed. We are both certain that we got to know more about one another in those 28 days of walking than most people learn in a year of dates.

Sixty days after meeting on the trek she gave up her job in Santa Rosa and moved to Kathmandu. Eleven years later we are still married and still amuse strangers with the tale of how we first met.

Thomas Laird

Kathmandu, Nepal

Committing in a time of war

This story isn't actually about me, but my grandparents. They were high school sweethearts, graduates of the class of 1936. The school's "prettiest" and most popular took turns threatening my grandmother how they'd steal Al away. My grandmother, in pure confidence, simply responded "If you can get him, he's all yours." I don't think my grandfather's head was ever turned elsewhere.

Both families were behind my grandfather when he first proposed. But, my grandmother responded, "Why ruin a perfectly good friendship?" My grandfather continued to propose for the following seven years, almost always met with the exact same response.

He joined the Army Air Corps in the days following Pearl Harbor. Close to the end of the war, my grandfather was given a two-week leave to come home. He spent the first week convincing her to marry him. She agreed. Without hesitation, they jumped in the car and "eloped" (with both families' knowledge). After a very short honeymoon, he went back to the war.

He didn't return until September 1945. We have the actual telegram he sent announcing his return: "September 2 1945 DARLING HOLD MAIL AND BREATH LEAVING FOR DIX AND DISCHARGE TOMORROW NO MISTAKE THIS TIME WILL CALL SOON AFTER ARRIVAL ALL MY LOVE AL."

Kirsten J. Blalock

Arlington, VA

Pushing the right button

I met my sweetheart at a vending machine. I'm afraid that I rather "hit on" him. During graduate school class breaks, he would stand in front of the vending machine hemming and hawing, shifting weight from one leg to the other, trying to make a choice. I observed this behavior on many occasions and finally said, "You're never going to find what you want in that machine." He smiled. We went for a hike two months later. But it was his smile that drew me to him in the graduate classes. Such a smile!

Lynn M. Helfrich

Scottsdale, AZ.

Door prize opens love's surprise

He was already a good bridge player, and I was learning the game. We met at the YMCA in Toledo, Ohio, and became acquainted over the bridge table. He asked several times to take me home, finally succeeding. At a big card party sponsored by the YMCA, we were partners. I won some relatively insignificant door prize, and in all innocence, left it in his car. Of course, he had no alternative but to return the prize. One thing led to another, and we were married that same year, 1947.

Betty E. Whitehead

Melbourne, FL

Can't touch this

I was a senior at the University of Missouri and she was a sophomore. I worked for the police department and she was an usher at the events center. We met at an MC Hammer concert (me working security and she ushering) to the song "Can't touch this."

She moved to Spain and I moved to Dallas that summer. When she returned she asked if she could date someone else. I said yes. Fortunately things did not work out.

The next Thanksgiving, I proposed to her just after the ice storm of the decade. We now have a beautiful daughter, and I'll be heartbroken if she pulls a stunt like her mother did with me.

James D'Entremont

Westford, MA

Taking that big first step

We met at the University of Illinois quite by accident while at a local student religious organization on campus. The group had just gone through a new building program and there was an open house where students could tour the site.

The tour included a stop on the roof, which could only be accessed through a doorway about 30 inches off the ground. A box was being used as a makeshift step beneath the opening. For the women, especially in the era of tight skirts, getting up to the roof required little effort. Getting down, however, was another matter. The step was so high that the women would have needed to hike up their skirts up well above mid-thigh.

Several of them were standing around trying to determine how best to negotiate the step. Was it better to appear ungraceful and back down the step, or put on a leg show? No woman wants to ever enter a room posterior first, no matter what she is wearing. A couple of girlfriends I knew were in the same predicament, and I was standing in the hallway at the bottom of the step. Because we were all friends, I grabbed each of them in turn by the waist and gently picked them off the roof and set them in the hallway. All except one. There was this new girl, and I looked deeply into her blue eyes and something clicked.

Now, after almost 35 years of marriage and two children, there's still something which clicks.

Dave Russell


Opportunity knocks twice

I met my wife Casey twice in the same pub in Germany - a year between each meeting.

The first time I met her she was actually dating a guy in my Army unit. I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the place - on the continent, for that matter . My friend wasn't there that night - he was probably out with another girl. Nonetheless, I didn't try and capitalize on his absence. Instead, I got to know my future wife without a thought of betraying my friend. I only saw her that one night and then she went back to Philadelphia, and I was sent to Bosnia for the better part of a year. During the deployment, I asked my friend about the incredible girl from Philly. He said they broke it off when she went back to the States, he had other fish in the sea to fry or something equally stupid. I told him he had let the best one go.

I returned to Germany after my Bosnian tour, planning only to stay for a month and a half and get discharged. My second night back, I saw her again in the same pub. We spoke. She remembered me. I thanked God. A few weeks later I had the biggest test of our new relationship in the form of her German grandmother Minna. I got the Minna stamp of approval and we were married two years later.

Robert Connor

Omaha, NE

Growing up together

My husband doesn't remember the day we first met, but I do. We were 8 or 9 years old, and it was the day I showed up as a visitor in his Sunday school class. There were two boys in the class that day, and I like to remind my husband that even though he doesn't remember me, I remember those two little boys very well -- the handsome one with the piercing blue eyes caught my eye right away. The other was him!

Our paths crossed again in our teenage years when we became part of the same circle of friends. When he first asked me out on a date, it was only because the girl he originally wanted to go with was suddenly unavailable. Several more dates soon followed. One afternoon he came over to my house and we sat talking for several hours. He asked me what I thought might be in store for us in the future. Would we ever get married? And wouldn't it be funny if it was to each other? Even as I dismissed the notion to myself, I remember being very surprised by an inner voice that said, "Hey, don't be so quick to throw that idea out!"

Jo Ann Gerber

Natick, MA

Never too late for romance

When you're a 44-year-old woman, you figure you have a better chance of

being struck by lightning than finding the love of your life. But that's what happened to me. I had just finished a career in the US Navy, and was beginning a second career as a tech writer. I reported to work, only to find I was the only professional woman on a staff of about 20 men. Not that that was anything new; more like "Here I go again."

On a business trip, a group was scheduled to go to dinner one night; Bob and I were the only two who showed up. Since he had been there before and knew the area, he agreed that we should go on our own. It was over a steak dinner that we discovered how much we had in common. We were both English majors, went to small Catholic colleges, and thought Edinburgh, Scotland, was the most romantic place.

Nothing more developed until 6 months later, when we were sent on another trip. I approached Bob and told him that I had enjoyed our first dinner so much, I hoped we could do it again. He readily agreed. After our first kiss, I knew he was the one for me.

Carol Bachmann

Springfield, VA

Recruiting talent

I was sent to California as a recruiter for a Christian college in Ohio when I first met Bob. My hosts had arranged him to drive me to the prayer meeting where I was to say a few words about the college. When Bob arrived, it was "love at first sight." Bob was wearing dark green, my favorite color, and was driving a white foreign-make car. As we drove, I was stunned by a huge orange ball in the sky directly in front of us. I wondered why a Sunoco sign was in our way. Of course I blushed a bit when I realized it was simply the full moon lazily rising in the Sacramento sky!

After that evening, I had no idea whether I would see him again. Fortunately, the following day I saw a professional colleague who encouraged me to ask my hostess to call Bob to see if he would take me to see Old Sacramento. She did, and Bob agreed.

What followed was a courtship that spanned two coasts and two years. Bob stayed in California for several more months and eventually my California hosts convinced him to transfer to the college where I was working to at least "check out" the relationship. Bob finally agreed and did move east to Ohio. Evidently my recruitment trip succeeded on two counts - the college gained a student and I gained a sweetheart who lived closer!

Bob and Karin Treiber

Minneapolis, MN

Within a week!

I met my husband, Kirk, on Valentine's Day in 1970. We met through our roommates; they were dating and they thought that we'd be great together. Kirk was stationed at Beale AFB in Marysville, CA, and I attended Yuba College there.

We went on a picnic in the afternoon. It was a beautiful spot near a waterfall, above Beale Air Force Base. We hit it off and really enjoyed the day, so we decided to go out that night. We felt as though we had known each other before.

Kirk proposed to me within a week, and we were married seven months later.

Thirty-two years, five children, and one grandchild later, we're still together. And I'm still delighted with my Valentine!

Linda Draper

Oroville, CA

A priceless kiss

I was on my break at Burger King, talking with Jess and some friends. We all knew that I was interested in Jess and vice versa. Too timid, neither of us did anything to directly confront the issue.

A friend decided the coy flirtation was too much for him. As I was about to go in, Jess and I were staring each other down very intently, too frozen to do anything but wonder. He jokingly stated, "Hey, Phil, I'll give you two dollars if you kiss her."

We laughed, but that was enough to push me over the brink. In what was probably the stiffest and most uneasy kiss ever, our lips met. I believe she was convinced for a short while that I had done it only for the two bucks. But our friend later tried to settle up his debt to me and I refused it; I just needed something to push me over the edge.

We were wed on June 13, 1997, in a stunning affair to which I was late. I thought it was at a different courthouse and left the bride waiting about 30 minutes on the steps. Upon our arrival, with little fanfare or enthusiasm, we filled out the necessary paper work and proceeded into the 'chambers'. The dryness of the event was alleviated by my disconcerted, sarcastic glances and Jess' use of a diamond-shaped lollypop ring as my wedding band. Our overall lack of fondness for rings led us to the decision that we would instead design tattoos for each other.

Phil Champon

Plantation, FL

Love for the land, the Lord, and a woman

When I went to high school, my only love was a farm my parents owned. It was over fifty miles from our town. I went to the farm almost every weekend and had a little over two months of paradise each summer. But I could count on one hand the number of dates I had during high school.

After spending some time at college, I returned to the farm. One day a cousin of mine from the city phoned me and invited me to a bowling party.

It turned out that my bowling partner was a farmer's daughter and was attending the same Sunday school that I had attended. I had never seen her before. We all had a great time. As I was putting my coat on for the fifty-mile journey home, I looked back and my bowling partner was looking at me. We smiled, waved goodbye, and I left. I drove home on "cloud nine." I knew that she was the one I was going to get married to. (I found out a few months later that she had felt the same way.)

I attempted to get dates with her, but something always interfered. She was attending college, she had exams to prepare for, her family was having guests from some distance away, etc. In short, no dates. This did not discourage me in the least. I knew!

Sometimes I could drive in to church on Sunday morning and meet her there if she had been able to stay over. There sure was nothing definite about our meeting anywhere. Finally summer arrived and we did get to date, and in the fall we were married.

Arthur S. Bradley and Carlena Carsten Bradley

Bradenton, FL

A dramatic steak test

I first saw a beautiful blonde blur behind the ticket counter in the foyer of one of our local community theatres. Her reserved smile and obvious class melted me. She looked at me and smiled that Mona Lisa, leave-you-guessing, smile of hers as she finished her discussion with those lucky persons who were working the ticket line.

I found that this lovely lady was the stage manager at the theatre, and circumstances allowed me the opportunity to be at the theatre during the rehearsals and performances of several shows with which she was involved. I occasionally managed to find a fresh drink for her when she ran out and generally tried to untie my tongue and talk to her. My conversational material usually centered on the current play, with queries placed as subtly as I could about her work and family.

Finally, my daring took the form of a note and a rose left at her doorstep. Not long after, I passed "The Steak Test" - requiring me to cook steaks for her and her family to their satisfaction over a charcoal fire. We have been married nearly five years. I haven't failed the steak test yet, so she says she'll keep me!

Bruce Smith

Raleigh, NC

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