Growing up, I had a different view from most of my peers – most of society, really – regarding sexual relationships. Our society today accepts, even encourages male sexual promiscuity, especially when approaching adulthood. I never agreed with that view. I always viewed sex as a very personal, intimate, and emotional part of a relationship. To me, sex without an emotional bond was wrong, and to use someone for my sexual pleasure without considering their emotions was equally wrong. This view most likely derived from a history of being emotionally teased and physically bullied in elementary and middle school – a situation that fortunately improved as I entered high school. Consequently, I had became hypersensitive to the emotions of others, which I think overall, was a good thing. On the downside however, I kept my own feelings buried most of the time through my adolescence and early adulthood. I was so afraid of making myself vulnerable and being hurt that I didn’t date at all the way through high school as well as the first half of my four years in the Army.
When I finally did meet and open myself up to who I thought was that special someone for me, and things didn’t work out between us, it was pretty devastating to me, but in time I got over it. Initially, the last thing I wanted to do was start seeing someone else right away and fall into a rebound relationship, so true to my nature, I took things to the extreme, burying myself between college and work, taking all the overtime I could at General Motors, taking full time classes, and signing up with the Army Reserves which tied me up for an additional weekend a month and 2 weeks in the summer. I literally had time for nothing else, except sleep, and even that was at a minimum. Quite often I would only take cat-naps in my car, in between classes. It wasn’t until I wrecked my car when I fell asleep behind the wheel while driving to work that I realized I needed to back things off a bit. I started turning down the non-mandatory overtime at work, and cut back by one class the next semester at college. Even then, I kept myself extremely busy.
When I did eventually start dating again, I had a somewhat rough start. I asked a couple girls I had enjoyed talking to regularly in my college classes if they’d want to go out sometime , but each one respectively turned me down, and it seemed after that, they stopped even talking to me as much. I then decided to try the club scene, hitting the bars on Saturday nights, providing I wasn’t exhausted from my work and school schedule. It seemed to be almost the polar opposite there. I don’t recall ever being turned down when asking any girl out that I met at the bar, although there were a couple false phone numbers given to me. The problem was, the girls from the clubs seemed to want to have sex way too early; usually on the first or second date. I wanted to take things slower, and they always stopped wanting to see me after I said I didn’t want to have sex with them yet. I even had one girl ask me if I was gay. “No. Not even close”. I knew I had to come up with some other plan. At some point, I came up with the idea using the want ads. Many local papers had started to put “Personal” sections in their classified ads and I figured “what the hell, it’s worth a shot”. I responded to an ad in the Metro Times, a free, arts and entertainment rag that I read periodically, but after getting no reply back, decided to write and place my own ad.
When my friends and family found out I was going to use the personal section of the want ads to meet someone, they thought it was a little weird. I have to admit, at first I thought it was too. There was a sort of social stigma, an air of desperation about it. But after I thought about it more, I figured it wasn’t really any different than going out on a blind date, in some ways it was better. You place a brief ad about yourself in the paper and respondents mail their replies to your account at the paper. The paper then forwards all the replies to you once a week. You read the replies and choose whether to pursue things further. If you don’t, you remain anonymous to them and no feelings are hurt. If you like their letter, you contact them back and things move forward from there. You don’t get to know a blind date nearly to that extent before going out with them. Besides, nobody was setting me up with any blind dates. When you think about it, it’s really not much different than meeting someone on the Internet today; just a lot slower. Snail mail slow.
Since I answered an ad in the Metro Times, I figured that was the best place to place my own. Plus, I felt its demographics were geared more towards my age and interests. I only received a few replies, the majority of which I immediately decided not to respond back to – they were just too extreme. Some had naked or pornographic pictures and others had racist spews or religious rants. I guess the demographics for the Metro Times weren’t what I thought they primarily were. This only left a few letters that I wanted to respond to. But that was okay; a handful was better than none. The phone conversations went great with all of them, but when we met, I found most of the them had lied about themselves, sending a picture that wasn’t actually them, or saying they didn’t have any picture of themselves to send and describing their appearance very inaccurately (digital photography and selfies didn’t exist back then – this was the era of film). I don’t want to come across as being stuck solely on physical appearances, I’m not. But I will admit I prefer to feel at least an initial level of physical attraction for a girl I am considering dating, just as I would hope she finds me at least somewhat attractive. However, physical appearance has never been a high ranking quality in my book. I will take an average looking, kind-hearted girl I trusted over a drop-dead gorgeous, conceited or uncaring liar any day of the week. Trust on the other hand, is huge to me; and I’m sorry, but if you’re going to lie to me about yourself before we’ve even met…sorry, game over. I’d be nice to them on the first date, but there was never a second one. Looking back now, I probably should have told them why I wouldn’t go out with them again, so they wouldn’t make the same mistake with someone else, but I didn’t think of it then. I just never asked them out again. Hopefully, they figured it out. Unfortunately, that only left a couple girls that I even considered going out with more than once. I thought one of them was really nice, but she said she wasn’t interested in going out with me a second time. Come to think of it, she never gave me a reason why. Another one got back with her previous boyfriend after we went out a few times, and one other stopped seeing me after she tried to move things along physically and I told her I wasn’t ready to go there yet. Even though, when all was said and done, nothing had worked out with any of them, I still felt that overall, the experience was worth it, and decided to do a second round, with a few tweaks.
For personal ad round two, I figured that a more traditional newspaper might be a better fit for who I was hoping to meet. That meant either the Detroit News or the Detroit Free Press. For whatever reason, I decided on the Detroit News. It was a good call. I received about the same number of replies as with the Metro Times, but the letters seemed more intelligently written, down to earth, or at a minimum, less bizarre. Almost all of the replies sent a picture that actually was of themself. I really seemed to hit it off well with this one girl who had grown up in Algonac, a small town about fifty miles north of Detroit. One of the challenges we faced early on was that she was deathly afraid of Detroit, and I loved going there. Greektown, Mexican Village, the areas around Wayne State University, Hart Plaza, The Renaissance Center, to me it was all great. It took me forever to convince her Detroit was safe as long as you stayed in the good areas. Shortly after things started getting serious between us, she finally agreed to go out to eat at a restaurant in the Greektown. We didn’t get fifty feet from my car when we heard a commotion behind us and turned around to see a cop frisking a guy. And of course, he chose to have the guy spread eagle on my car when he was frisking him. And of course, he cuffed and arrested him after he was finished frisking him. No matter how hard I tried to convince her that I had never seen this happen before, all she would say to me from that point on was “Just take me home.” We never made it to the restaurant that night and she never went out with me again.
Although I did go out on a lot of other nice dates and did a lot of interesting things I would have never done on my own, nothing seemed to click with anyone else. After a while, the pool of replies was dwindling and I was debating whether to run the ad again or take a break. But that decision, I would soon discover had already been made for me.
Shortly after the girl from Algonac and I went out for the first time, I had received a call from a reporter at the Detroit News. They were planning to do an article in an upcoming edition of the Michigan magazine included in the Detroit News Sunday paper. The article was going to focus on people who had recently placed personal ads; inquiring who they were, why they placed the ad, and what their experience was with it. They liked the ad I had placed and wanted to know if I would like to have a reporter and photographer come to my apartment to interview and take some pictures of me for the project. Well, sure. Why wouldn’t I? When published a few months later, the article told the stories of five people who had placed personal ads along with one of the pictures the photographer took and a cutout of their original personal ad. After I saw the article I couldn’t help but wonder if the paper was still set up to receive and forward replies to my ad should anyone decide to reply to the copy of it that appeared in the article even though my original ad was placed several months earlier. About a week later, I had my answer when I discovered my mailbox stuffed full of envelopes when I got home from work and school.
I hit it off really well with one of the girls from those letters. I really liked her and I after we had been seeing each other for a while, I started thinking that things might start to get more serious between us. Unfortunately, she eventually found out she was pregnant from her previous boyfriend whom she had broken up with shortly before she replied to my ad. I really liked her, and didn’t want to stop seeing her because of it, so we still went out for a little while afterwards anyway. But when her old boyfriend found out she was pregnant with his child he wanted to get back together with her to be dad. I felt obligated to step aside. She ended up setting me up with one of her friends. Her friend and I had what I thought was a great first date together, but whenever I asked her out afterwards, she always seemed to have an excuse why she couldn’t go out with me, so eventually, I stopped calling her.
Shortly after that ended, I had to make a trip up to Camp Grayling, for my two week summer training in the Army Reserves. While there, I would make what was the biggest mistake I have ever made in my life, and one that would cause me to not go out with any other women who had replied to my personal ad. On one of my last days at Camp Grayling, for whatever reason, I decided to throw my morals aside and just one time, go out and just get laid. Have a one night stand. No dating. No strings. Lie to her if you need to. Be pond scum. Be charming and say what you need to get her to fuck, and then get the fuck out of there. I got the first part of that plan down perfectly; I failed miserably at the second. First of all, I gave her my real phone number, back home. Of course she called me, wanting to drive down to see me. Although I should have, I couldn’t tell her that I just used her that night. That I was a total shit. But I didn’t want to admit to myself that I was that guy, even once in my life, so I tried to make it work. We ended up living together for nine or ten months afterwards. I never even really liked her and I let her move in with me! How the hell does that even happen? The only thing that made things tolerable was she was really good in bed. But I knew that wouldn’t be enough to keep us together; and it wasn’t. I eventually caught her cheating on me and kicked her out the apartment. After it was over, realizing that I really suck at one night stands, I vowed to never, ever attempt one again. I never have.
After that fiasco ended, I thought about the stack of replies I had received after the Detroit News Sunday article ran. By this time, it had been over a year since I received the last batch of replies. After some thought, I decided it had probably been too long to try and contact any of them now. Licking my wounds, I tossed the remaining letters in the trash I thought about writing another ad again, but decided to read some first to see if maybe there was one I wanted to reply to instead. There was one that seemed to jump out at me. I don’t remember exactly what it said, but I do remember it was something along the lines of being really busy with school and work and not meeting anyone to go out with. It reminded me a lot of my situation when I placed my ad. I wrote a reply and mailed it off, wondering if I would ever hear anything back.
About two weeks after I mailed out my reply I got a phone call. Her name was Helen. We talked for about an hour on the phone getting to know each other, deciding at the end of the conversation that we should meet in person. Since she lived in Southwest Detroit, and I was an east-sider, we chose to meet at Hella’s, a restaurant in the Greektown neighborhood of downtown Detroit. I was still waiting for a table when she got there. She gave me a good description on the phone, so I recognized her as soon as she walked in. By the time dinner was over, I knew I wanted to see her again. I hoped she felt the same. She did. She didn’t mind taking things slower in the beginning. Eventually, as we got to know each other better, things got more serious.
Shortly before Helen and I met, I had quit General Motors to chase a dream of working in radio and TV broadcasting. Probably the craziest career move I have ever done. I went form earning top dollar to making barely above poverty wage starting out in broadcasting, I took a job at a radio station in Bad Axe and moved up there It put about three hours between us in order to see each other, which put a strain on our relationship early on, but I knew by then there was something special about her, I asked her to move in with me. It would mean she would need to leave her job at the hospital in Detroit, were she made a lot more than I was making starting out in broadcasting. When she said she wanted to take that chance with me, I knew we’d make it together forever. I proposed to her two years after that, after painfully and meticulously concealing her wedding ring inside the prize packet in a box of Cracker Jack. I still laugh when I think back to her reaction after tearing open the prize packet and seeing the ring. “THIS LOOKS REAL!” We were married less than a year after that, where she surprised me by showing me the inscription she had done with both our initials on the inside of my wedding band. Along with our wedding date, it reads: “Wanted: SP 4 HW”.
Copyright © 2014 Mr. Flying Pig