WHEN PEOPLE ASK ME how I met my wife I usually respond with a question: "Do you want the story we told our parents or the true story?" Or, if I am in a hurry, I say "On a tennis court" (which is true – and is the short version of what we told our parents). You, my loyal readers, deserve better: the unexpurgated, the unadulterated, the unabridged, and only slightly edited story of our romance.
We did meet on a tennis court. This is true. The first time I ever saw Sandra was in the parking lot of Cedar Falls Park on the way to the tennis courts – for a match with her. Saying "we met on a tennis court," of course, does not explain how we both came to be there.
This is the part that we weren't so sure our parents would understand, so we kindly left out. (Now that they are all over 80 years of age, we think they can handle it. I guess shortly we will find out if we are right.) The true story is we met through a personal ad.
Do understand that personal ads weren't quite as sleazy in 1994 as they are now. Normal people could meet normal people through an Independent classified then. I would like to say it was through the ad that I ran – but she never responded to mine. (I am not sure which part of my ad may have dissuaded her from contacting me: "Looking for a Cindy Crawford/Mother Teresa mix," or the reference implying I enjoyed listening to Barry Manilow, or the final "No navel rings!" line – or perhaps it was because she never read it at all.) But the truth of the matter is we met when I responded to her ad.
This is shocking, isn't it? Shocking that I would have to stoop to reading personal ads to find a mate. Shocking that my lovely and talented wife would have to stoop to running a personal ad to get a date. Shocking that the ad was a fraud.
I wish I could find the original ad so I could quote it verbatim. I tore it out of the paper and kept it for a long time – and I remember it pretty well. Here are some of the key phrases: "Uptown girl looking for a downtown guy" and "Over-educated white female" and "Not fat, not skinny" and "Is willing to lower her standards, this once, just because she needs a tennis partner." She sounded perfect to me.
I fell for the person who wrote that ad – and here’s the fraud – she didn't write it. She didn't even submit it to the Independent. Her good buddy Bill – her regular tennis and squash opponent – who was a professional single (he once ran a dating service, probably to get dates), and a con man extraordinaire, "helped her write it" and "ran it for her."
But after a while – that is, the first moment I saw her smile as she greeted me in the Cedar Falls parking lot – I was falling for her, too.
Need some proof? Here are some song lyrics (which are still looking for music after all these years) that I wrote just days after we first met.
Perfect For Me
My eyes are open. I'm looking too.
I'm still falling in love with you.
I can see flaws, imperfections and lots of scars,
And I feel I know a lot about who you are.
I'm not looking at perfection. I still like what I see.
You're not perfect. You're just perfect for me.
(Written May 8, 1994.)
But, of course, over time things change. Just the other day, I wrote in one of my ubiquitous little notebooks, this sentence: "When I met my wife, she was perfect – but since then she's gotten better." It wasn't a joke.
Gary D. Gaddy lost 6-0 and 6-0 to his future wife on their first-date tennis match, and is still looking for proper tennis revenge.
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday September 17, 2010.
Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy
Special addendum for my on-line readers
Following my post, my California friend Jerry Meadors commented on Facebook:
Such a charming story -- and then you brought her to Richmond and came through the front door of my house and introduced Sandy to me from a great height -- that was because I was up on a ladder in my living room. And I was thrilled to meet her and certain she was a perfect mate for the likes of you. Of course, your referring to yourself in the personal ads article as "normal" still has me thinking! Sorry, you are far too eccentric to be reduced to "normal."
Then Florida friend Jan Wilhelm added:
lol....would have to agree with Jerry. Has anyone ever called Gary normal?
These multiple comments seemed to require that I defend myself thusly:
Sorry if I implied that I was normal. Not in this lifetime. After Richmond we went to Sandra's 20th Sweet Briar reunion. I wrote "Gary Gaddy" on my name tag. Underneath my name I put "Acme Dating Service." I spent most the night I apologizing for it, saying, "Sorry, but I had to, it's company policy." As I said, "Not in this lifetime."
Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy