Ain't love grand?

This week in Table Talk, members of Salon's reader community share stories of romance.

Published March 9, 2007 11:52AM (EST)

Private Life

Happy Love

Simone -- 08:43 am Pacific Time -- Mar 2, 2007 -- #62 of 81

Here's my grandparents' story ... they met at a USO dance in San Francisco during WWII. Grandpa was an Iowa boy who had joined the Navy. (He had never even seen the ocean, but given what had happened to the Army boys in WWI, he thought Navy was a better bet. After his ship got hit by a kamikaze pilot, he was no longer so sure.) Grandma was from West Virginia, and had fled home to lead her own life (her father was pretty oppressive). Grandpa only knew one vaguely popular dance (the Lindy Hop), so he had to wait for an appropriate song to go ask out that pretty redhead across the room. When it was time for Grandpa to ship off again, he and my grandma wrote each other constantly. In fact, my grandma was such a great letter writer, she even started writing my grandpa's mother. We have a couple of big binders full of the letters they exchanged while waiting for Grandpa to come home.

Because of restrictions on talking about troop movements, my grandparents had a special signal arranged so that they could meet up if my grandfather found himself back in San Francisco. My grandmother was working for a company that was a sort of forerunner to the modern jukebox ... various clubs in town would have the jukebox machines, and when someone selected a song on the jukebox, a signal would go off in a central room where my grandma worked. The girls in there would then put the selected record on the turntable dedicated to that particular club, and the song would play there. When my grandpa landed, he would go to a particular club, and select a particular (and very unpopular) song on its jukebox. When Grandma saw the instructions to put that record on for that club, she knew he was there. On one of these trips to San Francisco, Grandpa proposed, and they decided to marry right away. Grandma borrowed a friend's dress, and they threw the whole thing together in a matter of days before Grandpa shipped out again. Grandpa made it through the war OK, and together they had four kids and a successful business and a wonderful time together. When they celebrated their 50th anniversary, total strangers wrote to them after seeing their picture in the paper, just to tell them that it was so refreshing to see a couple celebrating 50 years together who still looked so HAPPY. Apparently, a lot of the couples in the pictures don't manage to look so thrilled ... Grandma died several years ago, and even though Grandpa is remarried now, I know he still misses her dearly.

Calamity Jeanne - 08:39 pm Pacific Time -- Mar 2, 2007 -- #74 of 81

The one where I met Steve was called the Bedrock Bar. It was just a few blocks from the apartment I lived in at the time. I was on my way home from a job interview and had just stopped in for a beer before collecting A from her day care. I got into a conversation with Jake, a retired sailor and old friend, and this tall, distinguished-looking silver-haired dude I'd never seen there before.

"Jeopardy" was on TV, and one of the categories was "World War I." Alex Trebek read the question and I immediately blurted out, "Who was Winston Churchill." It was a really obscure, little-known fact about Churchill. Silver-Haired Dude, it turned out, knew the answer too, and the fact that I knew it caused him to look at me with a somewhat different slant.

For a month or so we met two or three afternoons a week at the Bedrock for a beer or two and some quiet conversation. Then I invited him over on the following Saturday. "You can meet my daughter, and I'll fix us some supper."

Adrienne, who was then not-quite-3, was all over him from the moment I said, "A, this is Mama's friend Steve." They adored one another from the first moment. I didn't get her to bed until midnight because she insisted that she wanted to stay up and "talk to you friend Steve." When I finally got her down he and I made out on the couch for a couple of hours. But he did go back to his place that night. In the morning A came toddling into my room demanding, "Mama! Where you friend Steve?"

Randall - 03:59 am Pacific Time -- Mar 3, 2007 -- #75

I met DW 20 years before we went on our first date; she was 19 and I was 25. At the time I was working at a public radio station. Several of my jobs there were interesting: I hosted a talk show, and a '60s psychedelic music program, plus some management functions. However, it was answering phones for a comedy call-in show that got all the attention. One Sunday night a young lady popped in and we kind of hit it off, but she was en route to moving across the country. Three months later she came back with a friend in tow for support. The move hadn't worked out so well and she had developed a quick crush on me. The show ended at 11 p.m., a couple of my friends stuck around for a while, and the conversation went on for hours. By 1, it's down to my crush, her friend and my best friend. Ms. Crush is talking to me, with very little room for me to answer. My friend is talking to her friend with much the same results. I remember wondering what would happen if we swapped places, but didn't have much time to think about it. This went on until 3 a.m. Ms. Crush wanted to cuddle, but that was her limit. She and I went out a few times over the next few weeks, but it was the sort of relationship that was all about talking. We didn't seem to have any physical interest in each other, but we stayed good friends. On the other hand, her friend L and my friend D were in a relationship for eight years.

D and I worked together at the station, shared the hosting of the overnight psychedelic program, and hung out a lot as well. L seemed like the perfect girlfriend, but she didn't talk much. In fact, she barely spoke at all. At parties, she'd sit next to D, talk to him, and ignore the rest of us. I moved out of town. Somewhere along the line, D came to visit, bringing L. I wondered what it was going to be like having a woman who didn't speak in my house for a week. Needn't have worried; she'd come out of her shy stage and didn't shut up all week. As I mentioned, their relationship lasted eight years, and kind of just petered out, with them still close friends. On my rare visits back to town, I'd usually stay with D and perhaps L would stop over for lunch.

Then comes the Internet. L got a computer in 1995 and didn't know anyone else with e-mail. I was an early adopter, so D gave her my e-mail address and we wrote each other daily. She was a good e-mail correspondent, and I found myself checking the computer nonstop. At first, we just wrote each other jokes (some of those are probably still being recycled by my family who can't stop forwarding such things to each other). Then we talked travel. We both had major trips in the planning stage. She spent 12 weeks driving back roads and visiting Americana sites, taking pictures of the world's largest hand-dug well and such. I bicycled across France. Both were solo trips and nobody else seemed to understand the draw of solo travel, so we shared the excitement with each other.

Shortly after I got back, I was trying to plan another bike trek, but instead stumbled across a great deal from Cathay Pacific Airlines. They offered something called the All Asia Pass, where for a flat $1,000, you could fly all month, going anywhere that the airline served. I'd never been to Asia and this was an incredible deal for someone who likes to travel (the deal is still available, by the way). But I didn't want to do this trip alone. I solicited my friends, but it's hard to find people who have both a free month and $1,000. L was the only taker.

A month-long foreign excursion sounds like a clear setup for a fling, but neither of us thought of it that way. We'd known each other forever, there'd never been any chemistry, and she was my best friend's ex. There was no reason for us to be anything more than friends. But L's sister didn't see it that way and offered some suggestions that I'm still not privy to.

I don't know exactly what happened. We each say the other made the first move. It may have just been the Sri Lankan heat, or the exhaustion from 48 hours of flying, or maybe it was because everyone just assumed we were a couple, but we were in each other's arms the first day. She said no sex in the first country (I think it felt like saying no sex on the first date), but we were together nonstop, I was horny and she was easy. We spent a week in Sri Lanka, a week in Thailand, three days in Singapore, a week in Bali and several nights in Hong Kong making flight connections. Each place was more romantic than the last (except Hong Kong). People assumed we were on our honeymoon. We were clearly hot for each other, but I was 45, she was 39, we had been around and we knew that this was a fling. We lived almost 1,000 miles apart and neither of us had any interest in relocating.

The trip ended well. After a month away from work, she blew off another couple of weeks to spend with me. After that we had to deal with long-distance dating. We flew back and forth every month and would get one good weekend, but no more. We talked about where we could live, but there were all these obstacles. Her mother was ailing and needed her and I was self-employed with a thriving business that wouldn't relocate well. Finally, I took the plunge and moved to Kentucky. I loved living in New England and loved the work I was doing, but I love her more. The business didn't work out here and now I'm a cube rat at half what I was earning 10 years ago, Kentucky is awful boring compared with Boston, and this is the Bible Belt. She is absolutely worth it.

By Salon Staff

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