Miami Herald asked locals to share their best love story. We recevied many stories of how South Floridians met their significant other. Below are more experiences, which were edited for length and clarity.
The Fireman Started The Spark
One cold night in December of 2005, a girlfriend and I decided to go to Gatsby's, a former bar in Kendall for Wednesday's ladies night. After long chats and a few drinks, we hit the dance floor. Then, I saw him. He walked into the bar and he was tall with piercing light eyes and light skin. He was wearing a NASCAR jacket and a baseball cap. My heart stopped and I discreetly pointed at him as I whispered to my friend. Soon thereafter, a bulky guy who had long been watching us dance, approached us to talk to [my friend] Marcela. But to be polite he addressed us both, "I see you girls are dancing and don't want to be bothered. But don't worry, I'll protect you. I'm a fireman." My girlfriend answered, "Thanks, just make sure you don't protect my friend from that guy there, she pointed at my lust interest. Right away, the fireman began to walk toward him. My temperature changed. I panicked. I could see the fireman talking into his ear and then they both began to walk toward us. The effect of all the drinks disappeared. I became sober. I became nervous. We introduced ourselves, and he asked about the fireman.
Isnt that your friend? he said.
Um, no? I thought he was your friend?
We both laughed. At that moment, it didnt matter. We continued to have conversation throughout the night until the lights came on. This March will be our third wedding anniversary.
- Lauren Lessa, Miami Beach
The Wedding Singer
In the late summer of 1984 I worked part time as a wedding singer and instrumentalist. One of my colleagues scheduled a job for his niece's wedding, and as a result I was invited to the reception as well. I knew my colleague's extended family was quite large, and all evening long I was introduced to one family member after another. One of them, Tom, stayed at my table to chat, and I was charmed by this quiet, thin, bearded man who admittedly told bad jokes. I sensed an innate sense of humor and kindness. The hours went by quickly, and soon it was time to leave. We were so exhausted from laughing and dancing that neither one of us asked for a phone number.
I called my colleague and inquired where I could locate Tom, made a phone call, and, as the saying goes, the rest is history. After a seven month, long-distance courtship, we married, and I relocated from Chicago to South Florida. Tom later told me that he knew that first night that I was the woman he would marry. This spring we will celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary.
- Irene Lathrop, Dania Beach
Youve Got Mail
It was September of 1983, and my close friend Eric and I moved into an apartment near Dadeland Mall. I was a first-year law student at UM; he was a first year medical student. We had gone through college together. One day, I heard a knock at the front door, and when I opened it, a young woman with ice blue eyes was there flustered. "Can I help you?" I asked. "Oh, no -- I wasn't knocking -- my stupid mailbox door was stuck." I introduced myself and shook her hand, something she said had never happened to her before. That weekend I was at the pool with a big law book, and I saw her again. I asked her to dinner -- at Raffles -- a cheap but classy place in the mall. She said yes. This all seems a short time ago, but somehow three decades have passed. We married and have two amazing girls.
- David Auslander, Miami
I Still Regret This
I fell in love with my first wife when she worked at Royal Castle back in 1973. She was short and lovely. We got married with only her best friend and her parents. Our rear neighbors gave us a weekend at Holiday Inn on Ft. Lauderdale Beach. I just wish I had been smarter than I was because I screwed that love up. We got divorced in 1978. Now, 36 years later, I still regret this more than anything. She was such a loving, deserving woman. I am just so glad she gave me that much time to straighten up but, like an idiot, I thought I could keep her and not straighten up. What a total fool I was.
- Dempsey Coleman, Miami
When In Barcelona ...
I was waiting for a Peace Corp. assignment to the South Pacific. I decided to do my waiting while backpacking in Europe. I was on a train from France to Spain on my way to Madrid, but there was a strike, so I got off the train close to Barcelona. I met up with some other backpackers, and we met a man in a bar. He had just told his friends when they tried to coax him to come and sit at a table full of Americans that he wasn't interested in tourists, and that it was time to find a nice Spanish girl and bring her home to meet his mom. Well, he did sit with us and he thought I looked like a young Chris Evert -- he loved tennis and thought it was a sign. We danced until 5 a.m. and then I left. He ran to the train station trying to find me but didn't. I then traveled to Rome and met the pope. I thought this was a sign from God, so I called him and took a train from Rome to Barcelona. I continued to travel for several months making Alex and the city of Barcelona my base. Needless to say, there is more to the story but I have been with him for 20 years -- 10 of them in Miami.
- Stephanie Seemann, Miami Beach
Years Later, Another First Date
I met my first love at a high school junior varsity football game. We dated for two years in high school and a year and a half in college then broke up and went our own ways. 19, count 'em, 19 years later I was teaching high school and coaching tennis. I had made friends with a coach from another high school and one day I mentioned this old girlfriend by name. The coach reacted to her name and said she had taught with my old girlfriend at that high school and was friends with her. So we eventually talked on the phone (until 3 a.m. the first night!) and days later went on a "new" first date. I knew that night I would marry her. We did marry a year later and been married for 14 years and have a beautiful 9-year-old daughter.
- Matthew Larkin, Miami
Middle School Romance
My first real relationship started when I was in seventh grade. We were best friends for more than a year before we admitted we had feelings for each other. Most middle school relationships last a few weeks on average, but Chris and I were together for 11 and a half months. Two weeks before our anniversary, Chris called me to tell me that he wanted to end it. He was afraid that when we went to different high schools we would fizzle out, and he would rather make a clean break than lose hope in young love. I had already bought his anniversary present. Actually, I still have it. [The gift was a set of couple's pillow cases.]
- Anya Contreras, Miami
The Wedding Invite
My love story starts at the age of 16 when I met my soul mate. We spent three years together before we broke up. I moved on, got married and had a baby but I never stopped thinking about him. Move forward three and a half years later. I am divorced with a 2 year old and go out on one date with my old high school boyfriend. The date was nice, but he just wasn't into the kids and never called me back. Move forward four years. My sister is getting married. I am in the wedding party and decide to send an invitation to my high school boyfriend (no reply card enclosed). I was a bit disappointed when I did not see him while entering the church but to my surprise he was there when we came back down the aisle. We had a wonderful night and he promised to call. Well, he called the next day and two days later he asked me to marry him. We have been married for 23 years this April. We have three wonderful girls.
- Amy Nelson, Miami
Love in an Elevator
I met the love of my life in an elevator at the Stephen P. Clark (Govt) Center in Downtown Miami.
It started out as a normal work day. As is routine in the morning, I enter the building's lobby to catch an elevator to my office floor. I wait for an elevator to land. An elevator door opens, I enter and press my floor number. Once the door closes a young lady in the elevator says hello and introduces herself. Caught off guard by this outward introduction I respond in kind. I then realize were the only two people in the elevator. She starts conversing and as the elevator starts approaching my floor she hands me her business card and says to call her; possibly lunch? The elevator door opens, I say goodbye and exit with her business card in hand. Im standing outside the elevator wondering what just happened.
Needless to say, the rest is history. Weve now been married for 23 years.
It turns out my wife came up with this elaborate plan to meet me and thought capturing me in the elevator, one-onone, was a good way to introduce herself. I have to give her credit ... it worked!
- Michael Chaves
Second Times a Charm
It was the summer of 1975, I was 26 years old and I was playing at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) Singles Volleyball on Wednesday nights. I noticed this girl, who had this magical smile on her face. It would not have been that unusual but her smile seemed to open up something inside of me. I was very shy at the time and didn't have the nerve to approach her.
Twenty years later in 1995, I was 46 years old and at a St. John Neuman Catholic Singles Movie and Dinner night. We were all in one big group eating dinner and I noticed this girl with this magical smile. Id developed some confidence over the past 20 years and decided to approach her to introduce myself. It struck me that this was the same girl with the same magical smile 20 years back.
We continued to talk, and she has been my girlfriend these past 14 years. Can you believe it? two Jews meeting at a Catholic function!
I love you, Robin.
- Kenneth Karger, Miami
I met my husband in 2005 through an online dating website. We have been together this entire time and got married in 2008. Last year, my husband developed kidney failure and needed a kidney transplant. His cousin got tested and was not a match, so I said let me try.
I got tested, and we were a match. On July 24th, 2013, my husband got his kidney from me. Its been 6 months and he is doing well.
- Maryann Duva
Saw Him in a Magazine
Walter Sutton was the one of the first black officers hired by Miami Beach police in the late 1970s, and he was tasked with trying to recruit more black officers to the force.
While inquiring about placing an advertisement in Ebony Magazine, he also asked about how to apply to be the magazines most eligible bachelor. He applied, and in 1981, was featured in the magazine.
His mailbox got stuffed with many letters after that, and one from a nurse at Mt. Sinai Medical Center stuck out. Thus, a 12-year romance was born.
- Walter Sutton, Miami
Lost in Her Eyes
It was a Sunday open house in 1950 at the AEPI fraternity house at The Ohio State University. Carol was sitting on a couch with her date ... he walked out so Mort walked in and sat down beside her and started a conversation. Mort asked Carol if she wanted to have an eye examination. He was a student in the College of Optometry, and he needed volunteers for examinations in the clinic. Carol said yes, so this started their 64 year relationship.
The couple will be married 62 years on July 6, and they have three children and three grandchildren.
Dancing and dressing up in jazzy clothes continues to be enjoyable. They have hundreds of outfits for various events ... usually red for Valentine's Day.
- Carol and Mort Schomer, Miami
These comments came through the Public Insight Network, an online community of people who have agreed to share their experiences with the Miami Herald and WLRN. Share what you know to our newsroom at MiamiHerald.com/insight.