In less than a week, it will be the 15-year anniversary of the day I met my wife. So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the entity that made such a beshert possible … drum roll please … this newspaper!
No, we didn’t meet as co-workers, nor was she someone I interviewed for an article. Back in 1994, I didn’t even work for j. — then the Jewish Bulletin — but I did happen to be a subscriber.
Not by choice, mind you, but out of panic (my mother’s).
The Bulletin in those days had a full page of singles ads, as well as a large listing of Jewish singles events. Jewish! Singles! My mailing label didn’t have to read “30-year-old sportswriter who’d rather stay in his apartment watching the Giants and eating Banquet chicken nuggets than try to meet someone” to figure out what Mom was up to.
And if her objective in ordering a subscription for me wasn’t quite transparent enough, her follow-up phone calls nudging me along — “Why not go to just one event?” “Why not just look at the ads?” — ripped apart any notion of this being a covert operation.
Her tactics worked, eventually. At some point, I went on a Jewish singles hike around a reservoir, attended two Blue Monday singles mixers, and then, much to my own amazement, even began responding to a few women-seeking-men ads.
One weekend was quite a bonanza for me. I had a Friday night date with a Jewish social worker who “mainstreamed” graffiti artists; a Saturday daytime date with a Jewish raver with black fingernails who went to all-night dance clubs almost every night; and a Sunday afternoon date with a recent Hebrew Union College grad who worked at the Berkeley-Richmond JCC.
The Sunday date — the one that turned out to be magical — came out of the blue. I was in my apartment, probably watching a ballgame, when the phone rang. It turned out to be someone whose print ad I didn’t respond to. This was it:
“Looking for road warrior with good car stereo. Has read ‘Reinventing Government’ while listening to Led Zeppelin. Has been spotted at Bay to Breakers, the Warfield Theater and friends’ homes for Shabbat dinner. SJF, 5-foot-8, 28, left-handed with long, lanky legs, high energy and silly wit. Let’s share lunch or a light dinner and argue hockey and the merits of SNL.”
The Bulletin deemed it “Ad of the Week” — deservedly so — but none of her items were me. I didn’t’ really dig Zeppelin, most of my nonfiction reading was the Hockey News, mid-1990s SNL sucked and, as a reporter covering the San Jose Sharks home and away, I didn’t really want to spend my down time talking puck with some ga-ga hockey fan.
But if I didn’t respond, why was she calling? Turns out, while perusing some Bulletin voice ads a few days earlier, I liked hers (it was much different than her print ad) and left a reply.
On the phone, Stacey and I quickly clicked, and decided to get together straight off — in like 30 minutes! And there we were, a few hours later, dancing together (a fast dance) at the old Festival at the Lake in Oakland … and then kissing.
We parted that afternoon, and the next day I walked about four miles from my place in Oakland to the JCC in Berkeley — and discreetly dropped off a bouquet for her at the front desk.
Twenty months later, Stacey had become the S.F. State Hillel director, and I proposed to her (surprise!) as she was leading a workshop at Hillel’s West Coast Kallah in Simi Valley. In front of everyone. Our engagement notice was in the Bulletin (of course).
Three years after our 1996 wedding, I took a job at the Bulletin as a reporter. I haven’t been here all the time since then, having gone back to the sports pages for a while, but I did return to j. last spring.
My beshert and two stints of employment. And an engagement notice. And about 200 articles and columns, including a 1999 story about our homemade, five-poled chuppah, and a 2008 column about legally changing our last names to Altman-Ohr and Roberts-Ohr.
My history with this newspaper runs deep.
Andy Altman-Ohr lives in Oakland. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.