Sunday, July 21, 2013

He Found Me in the Shopper’s Special

(Names of people and places have been changed because some people mentioned in this piece are sensitive flowers and don’t like me so much anymore. My husband is still pretty fond of me so he appears under his own name.)

My husband and I will celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary tomorrow. That I married at all continues to surprise me. That old cliché about finding someone when you’re not looking turned out to be true.

My friend, Lucy, had been divorced for a while and decided she wanted to start dating again. Years ago the most reliable places to meet men seemed to be churches or bars. Lucy wasn’t religious and she didn’t drink much so she felt her best bet was placing a personal ad. Philadelphia Magazine was filled with ads but placing one cost more than Lucy wanted to spend so she opted for the Shopper’s Special, a publication that folks picked up at the grocery store.

I knew nothing about the details of Lucy’s ad other than it began “Eclectic reader.”

I didn’t think much about this because for some years I had belonged to Single Book Lovers and found that men who read books could be just as boring and thoughtless as anyone else.

Lucy began dating and talked about Bob, a man who had been an archeologist and had spent a lot of time in the Middle East. He spoke several languages and he read a lot. Then there were discussions about Adam who was a helicopter pilot. Lucy ultimately decided that Adam was more interesting to her.

“What about Bob?” I asked.

“Do you want to meet him?”

“Well, I’m really tired of three month relationships. Words cannot describe how much I hate dating.”


“Okay, give him my number.”

I didn’t expect anything to happen. Maybe Bob was devastated that Lucy didn’t want to see him anymore. Bob called two days later.

Bob seemed nice (or at least not an axe murderer) and we agreed to meet at Le Café. I had enjoyed going to Le Café because it was quiet and the service was terrible so one could stay for a long time. It was so dark I once got a free meal because the waitress had put me in a dark corner and forgotten about me entirely. On another occasion, my waiter quit taking my order because another man rushed into the restaurant, hands filled with bills and coins. “We have the money for the phone bill,” he shouted. My waiter joined the money bedecked man in a happy dance around the restaurant. I loved the place. I believed that even if you had a bad date you could have a good meal.

Alas, I had not been at Le Café for a bit and when Bob and I entered the restaurant, I found that it had been tarted up. It was brightly lit and sparkling. The waiters looked like young MBA candidates who could afford to eat on a regular basis and never worried about phone bills.

My fears about the place were realized when our young waiter proved to be attentive. He brought the soup course immediately. The minute I finished it, he came to pick up the empty cup.

“See this man?” I said to the waiter as I pointed at Bob. “I’ve never met him before. This is our first date and we came here in full expectation that the service would be indifferent and we would be left alone for long periods of time.”

I told the waiter that I would nod when he could again approach the table. I went back to the task of assuring Bob that I did not want to marry. He was fine with that.

We had a wonderful first date and many more after that.

I did admit to Bob that I was curious about his dates with Lucy.

“Mostly she spent a lot of time saying, ‘I’m not going to introduce you to my friend, Stephanie. You’ll like her better than me.’”

She was right.

For her good deed Lucy got a bookstore gift certificate, our undying gratitude and a chance to be in the wedding.

Lucy did not attend the wedding, but that is another story.

Stephanie Patterson


  1. This would make a charming one act play... tjstraw

  2. Why, Thelma, that's an idea. Perhaps I should think about that.

  3. Steph--this is adorable! I forgot how much I enjoy your wry sense of humor. and thanks for sending the link--I remain far too challenged and blog-confused to know how to actually FOLLOW a blog, even when I really like the blogger!
    Thanks for a big smile this evening!

  4. and sense they accepted my comment (whover THEY are) can I now say that I am published?!

  5. You are now part of the blogosphere, a chatty group of millions.

  6. And Happy Anniversary to you and Bob. May you celebrate many, many more. Xxxxxpk

  7. Thanks. I have to say it's been fun

  8. I love this story. And the cliff-hanger. Happy anniversary!