Girlfriend 28 Years Younger
In 1960 I was an unemployed sign-painter with a new wife and her two young children (who were fathered by a deadbeat dad). Elaine and I decided to look for some freelance sign work by passing out business cards to some local merchants.
My approach was to look for a new business being started or find an old business with outdated, faded signs. Elaine's approach was to go door-to-door and hand a card to everyone she encountered.
But when she suggested soliciting Longs Drug Store (the town's largest) I said, "Why bother? They have signs all over the place. It's obvious they already know a sign-painter."
Well, guess what happened.
Elaine walked in and asked to see the Manager. He came out of his office and asked what he could do for her.
"My husband is a sign-painter," she said, "and would like to give you a quote on making the signs you need."
"Well," replied the manager with a smile, "I'm glad you came in. The fellow who's been doing our work lives out of town and has become increasingly unreliable about delivering our orders on time. Have your husband stop by and we'll see what we can do."
So that's basically how our business got started. I was a good sign-painter, but an embarrassingly shy salesman. Elaine didn't know anything about signs – but had the tenacity to keep calling on businesses and handing out cards. And our shop eventually expanded to a workforce of over 30 employees.
40 years later we sold the business to an Ohio corporation who wanted to expand into California. Sadly, Elaine passed away that same year.
In the meantime, computers had come along and I had found an AOL forum that invited users to submit original stories and poems. Each week a "topic" would be suggested that writers should use as a basis for their submissions.
One week the topic was "WRITING A PERSONALS AD" such as those written by persons hoping to encounter a romantic adventure.
This surprised me because the Forum Rules clearly stated that 'trolling for romance' was strictly against TOS (Terms of Service) and that a violation would cause a writer's AOL account to be immediately terminated.
But since "A Personals Ad" was the official "Topic of the Week" I decided to go ahead and write one. As a joke, though, I wrote "Your Dream Hunk is Here, Ladies" and went on to describe myself in the most obnoxious terms possible (rarely bathed, loved smelly cigars, but hated kids and pets, ad infinitum).
Well, I got a lot of funny replies to the "ad" but one reply was intriguingly different. A lady wrote, "Who do you think you are, Jack Benny or George Burns or Shecky Greene or Henny Youngman?"
Most of the forum contributors were some 20-30 years younger than I, so it appeared that Mary Janese must be close to my age (mid-60s) to know about the comedians she mentioned. However, her age turned out to be 28 years younger than mine – and we happened to live just a few miles away from each other.
Her familiarity with the vintage comedians she named came from the long-term caring-giving for her terminally ill stay-at-home parents, who enjoyed old-time radio and TV shows.
As it happened, Mary and I had a number of other things in common, so I ended up moving in with her in 2001. And we still enjoy vintage comedy whenever we can find it.