They got caught in the single-parent trap
“I was early to pick my son up from yet another Saturday detention. It was sunny out, so I plopped on the hood of my car with my coffee and US Weekly. That’s when I overheard Garrett on his cell phone: ‘She got caught smoking in the bathroom — again!’ When he hung up, I couldn’t help myself and said: ‘Mine too, but he was caught with beer on the football field after a game.’ Garrett came over and we talked about our unruly teens, and about our own glory days, too — kinda hard to be mad at our kids when we were guilty of similar behavior at their age. When we noticed a string of kids flooding the main gate, Garrett turned to me and said: ‘I think we both could use a drink of our own!’ We met up that weekend at a wine bar and talked about our high-school days. So, it was definitely even harder to reprimand my son — he scored me a great date!”
– Carrie Rillo, 45, Amherst, OH

Their love sprang to life at the... pet cemetery?
“Every now and again when I’m in the neighborhood and feeling particularly stressed out, I stop at the pet cemetery and visit my cat Patty’s grave. It’s one of those things that makes me feel good — instantly. This one time, I noticed her little stone was covered in mud, and since I didn’t have a shovel or gloves, I used my foot to scrape away the dirt as best I could. Paul approached with a watering can and paper towels — he’d just buried his dog — and helped me to clean the grave. To thank him and also console him, I took him around the corner for a coffee. Three years later, we’re married — with a new cat and dog of our own. A baby is next.”
– Jolene Van Meyer, 34, Pompton Lakes, NJ
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She found his tasteless approach delightful
“The weight-loss center in my area is somewhere I like to go solo. I wear sweats and a baseball cap low over my brow. I’m not embarrassed, I’m just working through the last stubborn 10 pounds on my own, you know? As I waited for a weigh-in, I heard this guy behind me joking that he felt like we were cattle getting weighed before the big slaughter. I pretended not to hear him, but he started making mooing noises! I burst out laughing and that’s when he approached me and said, ‘Come here often? Or only when your bathroom scale is MIA?’ After the meeting, we went to an organic café and had a late lunch — salads and green tea. It was tasteless, but he was a delight!”
– Jill Spicer, 35, New York City

They shared a hit-and-run romance
“Crash, crunch, beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! was all I heard before the airbags ballooned. Next thing I knew, a handsome young cop was knocking on the window, yelling: ‘Are you okay?’ The car that hit me fled. The officer, Rich, helped me out and began to take down a report, but that’s when I felt incredibly woozy. He called an ambulance and said he could finish the report later and he needed my number to do so. I fumbled for my card. Twenty minutes later, I was sitting in an overcrowded ER with an ice pack resting on my collarbone when Rich walked in. He actually sat with me for an hour, got me water and kept me company. When I finally heard my name called to see a doctor, we hadn’t even finished the report. ‘No problem,’ he said, ‘it can wait until tomorrow.’ I went to station the next day and we finished the report... and we also had dinner together that very night!”
– Simone Steer, 34, Berne, IN

Seeing the upside of unemployment has its perks
“After I got laid off, I found myself at an overwhelmingly huge job fair. I didn’t want to be there, but after sending a million resumes out and getting no bites, I figured I had better go! I collected packet after packet from recruiters and shook a lot of hands — one in particular stood out, though. He was an HR director for a pharmaceutical company and I don’t even know why I wandered over to his table. (My background is a mix of fashion and editorial jobs.) Needless to say, I didn’t get the job, but I got the guy. We’ve been dating for seven months and counting, and, hey, I even found a job!”
– Renee Masters, 29, New York City

A derailed trip put them both on the marriage track
I decided to pay a surprise visit to my family in New York City — I hadn’t seen them much since I took a job on Capitol Hill. I bought a train ticket and planned on sleeping the five-hour ride away. Well, about 45 minutes into the trip, I noticed how warm the car I was in had become. Moments later, it smelled like burnt rubber and — the train crawled to a stand-still. Engine trouble? Great! After a half-hour of feeling no movement, I made my way to the café car for a beer and managed to score a cold one. A cute woman tried to get one as well, but apparently, they’d just sold out. I offered her mine — and refused when she offered to pay for it. Turns out that we went to rival high schools and both now worked in D.C. Hours and hours later when the trained chugged into New York City, we exchanged numbers. We had our first date that weekend... and now, we’re engaged. Sometimes engine trouble has a silver lining!”
– Christian Davids, 29, Long Island, NY

Another’s passing brought their love to life
“My boss’s mother passed away and I attended the service. I didn’t really know anyone there, except for a couple of the guys in the I.T. department. I felt funny signing the condolence book, but figured I ought to. The woman ahead of me turned and handed me the pen. She said: ‘I hate signing in to these kinds of things… I don’t know what to say about my ex’s great aunt.’ I smiled and said, ‘I don’t know what to say either — she was my boss’s mom.’ Later, after talking with my boss, I saw that woman again off in the corner, alone. I said something really corny like, ‘Come here often?’ and we both stifled a laugh. We ended up talking among the lily plants afterward. We’re still together, and sometimes we joke that our first date was actually a funeral — it can’t get worse than that!”
— Peter Smithers, 39, Pittsburgh, PA

Her friends secretly found a better man for her online
“I was dating a guy that my friends hated. You know the story: ‘He’s not good enough for you, you’re too kind-hearted for such a jerk,’ etc. So without telling me, they posted a profile on a dating site for me just to prove a point — that there was someone better out there for me, and they were going to find him. They totally went behind my back — I mean, I was in a relationship! All the incoming emails showed up as spam in my inbox (which I immediately deleted). Somehow, though, one message got through from a guy named Rich. For some reason, his email fascinated me, so I agreed to meet him for a casual cup of coffee. That day, everything just clicked — we knew from day one that we were meant to be together forever. We talked and laughed together, and I think by the end of the date we were even finishing each other’s sentences. We’re married now, and I couldn’t be happier. I guess my friends were right — my ex wasn’t good enough for me!”
— Sara Govatos, 30, Weehawken, NJ

Christine M. Coppa is a contributing columnist for

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