How They Met: Late-Blooming Love

It took each of them 50-plus years, but John and Paula finally found each other.
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A Potential "Mr. Right"

I was sitting on my patio in Margate, Florida, reading the Sunday paper. Same old, same old, I thought, and flipped to the personals. I was still looking for Mr. Right, even though, at 50, I'd had enough fix-ups and coffee-after-work blind dates to open my own Starbucks. It's not that my standards were unreasonably high; I just wasn't willing to compromise. Even so, I firmly believed that my bashert, a Yiddish word meaning "fated to be," was out there somewhere.

Then, among the requests for buxom blondes and offers of long walks on the beach, an ad caught my eye: HARRY SEEKING SALLY. Financially secure former New Yorker, 52, seeks refined Jewish female, without kids, for a long-term relationship. It was like reading a description of myself. The word "refined" told me this man was looking for substance. I was less taken with the "former New Yorker" part. I hailed from the Big Apple, too, but 20 years of dating urban men had pretty much convinced me there were none I'd find compatible.

I clipped the ad, tucking it away to give myself time to mull it over. A few weeks later, when a friend's offer to fix me up fell through (I was "geographically undesirable," the man said), I dug the ad out and dialed the number.

An Instant Connection

I liked the way John sounded on the message -- friendly and smart. He called back the next day and we chatted for quite a while, filling each other in on biographical basics. John was relatively new to Florida, a retired real-estate developer who was now in consulting. I told him I worked from my home office for a Massachusetts-based software company. I asked if he'd placed many ads before and he said this was his first since moving to the area a year ago. By the time he said he'd like to meet, I was thinking the same thing.

Since I was about to head off for a 10-day vacation, we decided to wait until I returned to get together. In the meantime, we had two or three phone conversations. With each one, I was struck by John's kindness and sensitivity and by the similarity in our tastes.

But I'm as realistic as I am optimistic. Until we met in person, I knew, all bets were off. We set a date to meet, but I woke up that morning with a raging sore throat. When I called to cancel, I worried that John would think I was blowing him off. His answer reassured me. "Don't say 'cancel,'" he said. "Say 'postpone.'" We set a new date for the following week.

John and Paula's Great First Date

Oddly, we'd been so caught up in our conversations that neither of us had even asked what the other looked like. So when the bell rang that Wednesday evening and I opened the door to a handsome guy with a great smile, I thought wow. And the pleased look on his face told me, "Same to you!" Chemistry was not going to be a problem.

That evening, we talked and talked, sharing some of our comic misadventures in dating. Like me, he'd always assumed he'd marry but had never met the right person. He told me he'd become a full-time Floridian after his parents died and there was no longer anything tying him to New York and the cold winters he hated (me, too!). Lest I feel too smug, he also mentioned that I wasn't the first person he'd called. (I loved that he felt comfortable enough to admit that.) He joked about one woman who'd said, "I don't have kids -- they're in New York." Amazingly, we even talked about that. We felt the same way: We both thought we'd have been terrific parents but that, in our 50s, children were not in the cards.

By the end of the meal, which lasted for hours, I was seriously in like. When he brought me home and volunteered to come with me while I walked my dog, Max, I knew he was a keeper. As he said good night, John brushed my lips with his, saying he'd had a wonderful evening and would call me.

Continued on page 2:  Meant to Be?


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