A Classic Love Story: Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward

Just one more day to submit your love story for the chance to win dinner for two at Pazo and a bottle of Roederer Estate “Special Cuvée” Brut NV from Bin 604 in our “How I Met My Honey” contest! Read the moving story, below, about a courageous cancer survivor finding true love when she least expected it.

Love at the Cat’s Eye Pub

I had a better chance of being struck by lightning or being attacked by terrorists than I did of meeting a guy in 2010. I was a divorced, middle-aged woman who was bald and missing a body part that made my sweaters look decidedly uneven. Thank you, mastectomy and chemo.

I was also puffy. My oncologist even admonished me about the weight gain. But it was a side effect of my job, not the drugs. I have to eat a lot as the food editor for Baltimore magazine.

But, amazingly, I did connect with someone that year in a most unlikely place—a Fells Point dive bar. My friends convinced me that listening to the afternoon blues bands on Saturdays at the Cat’s Eye Pub would lift my spirits. It was worth a try.

It did help distract me until that summer when I went through another surgery for reconstruction. Trust me. We’re not talking body beautiful. We’re talking just feeling whole again.

Soon, I was back at the Cat’s Eye. This time, looking like a deranged poodle as my hair grew out in a weird corkscrew style. People were polite about it. I tried to ignore my new look.

That was when I met the bass player for the band Nothin’ But Trouble. He was from Delaware. I used to live in Delaware.

We soon became Greg from Magnolia and Suzanne, formerly from Old New Castle. It was a greeting we shared with a smile during the band’s once-a-month gigs. But we were ships passing in the night. He had someone in his life. I was still trying to recover.

One evening, much later, fate intervened. We ended up sitting next to each other at the bar before the band played. The reporter in me kicked in: “So what’s your story?” I asked.

And he told me. He wasn’t just a musician. He was a special-ed teacher, a dad, a son, a brother, and a really fascinating guy. And he was unattached.

We went on our first date to a food-truck rally in June 2012. By mid-afternoon, we were holding hands and discovering we both love the early illustrators Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth as well as lobster rolls and vichyssoise. Later, we kissed in my kitchen.

There was no turning back that blissful summer. By fall, we were spending every weekend together and mourning the days between Sunday afternoon and Friday evening when we wouldn’t see each other. Greg was still in Delaware. I was in Towson.

Then, I got sick again. Not cancer this time, though a previous surgery could have caused it. I had a twisted small intestine and arrived in the emergency room full of toxins and near death. I was rushed to surgery. Greg was by my side.

Three months ago, we were again holding hands, this time as we said our marriage vows at the county courthouse. Now, our story continues—in sickness and in health.

Love in the Time of Cholera

Originally published February 11, 2014 –In the fall of 2010, Haiti was in the midst of a raging cholera epidemic.  I was packed up and ready to help with my first mission for the international humanitarian aid organization, Doctors Without Borders. I arrived nervous and green — I spoke barely 10 words of French and, even though I’d been to Haiti twice, I felt way out of my league with all of these seasoned veterans of the aid game. I spent the night in Port-au-Prince and traveled the next day to Saint Marc where my “partner” was waiting for me. Our job as a team (one water & sanitation expert — him , and one nurse — me) was to go into the outlying communities, sometimes hiking miles into the mountains, and search for cholera cases. We brought supplies and information, educating people about how to recognize, treat, and, hopefully, prevent cholera. We spent hours together in the car and walking, and I asked him a million and one questions. I had a crush on him immediately because it seemed like he knew so much and he was totally no-nonsense. I felt like I came across as a kid sister! He was only there for two weeks and then he left for another mission, but we kept in touch and about a year later he visited in me in Vermont. About five months after that, we made our interest in each other known.

We haven’t looked back and now we’re planning our wedding !

And that’s how I met my sweetie. <3

Chuck T’s in Love

Originally published on February 10, 2014 – The only reason to come to the late Sunday afternoon meetings of the University of Baltimore’s largely ignored student newspaper, the UB Post, was the pizza. Free pizza. For struggling grad students getting paid $5 an article it was not only a reason to show up, it was a reason to bring Tupperware.

But I was the exception. I didn’t come for the free pizza. I came for my future husband, Matt, who came for the free pizza. I had moved to Baltimore just a few months before, and I joined the paper to meet people. By the time the first newspaper event was over it was clear I joined the paper to meet Matt. He was perfect with his long wavy hair, his gangly arms, his Bob Dylan t-shirt, his slightly aloof air, and his interest in all things music and writing.

But those were not the reasons that at our second newspaper meeting I sat across from him eavesdropping on his every word. Young and silly and searching for signs in everything around me, it was his shoes that caught and held my attention. His masterfully worn-out-beat-up-torn-to-pieces-threadbare-road-weary pair of Chuck Taylor Converse All-Star high tops. They told me everything I needed to know because I was sitting there with an even more beat-up-six-mile-walk-to-school-everyday-five-year-old-blessed-three-times-by-the-Pope-pair in red. It was meant to be. As he casually talked to the student next to him about his extensive collection of Chuck Taylors, I knew. It was meant to be. But I was shy and Matt was, and is, slow on the uptake. I tied and untied my shoes. First the left and then the right. I extended my foot out in front of me for a list of absurd reasons. I adjusted the tongue. I tugged at the laces. I scratched imaginary itches. Look at my shoes. Look at my shoes, Matt. We will fall in love. We will walk around Baltimore with our beat-up shoes and drink beer at dive bars and watch old movies at the Senator and grill burgers in the back alley behind my apartment and buy clothes from Goodwill and records by the pound and spend our evenings circling Druid Hill Park Reservoir watching the cars zoom by below on 83. If you just look at my shoes.

Look at my shoes, Matt, and we will fall in love driving in your car to pumpkin patches and coffee shops and Target. You will write, and I will read, and we will survive summers of one hundred degrees on the third floor of a row home walk-up. We will get married on the most unseasonably beautiful day in March, and we will from time to time laugh that it was the simplest, most ordinary thing that brought us together. We will laugh and we will save those shoes, each pair, lovingly in a box under the bed. We will. If you just look at my shoes.

And so he did. And so we did.

Love, Baltimore Style

Originally published on February 7, 2014 – My husband and I like to tell the story of how we met as the quintessential Baltimore love story, except it wasn’t actually out at a bar.  We happened to be neighbors living next door to each other in Federal Hill.  One sunny and unseasonably warm day in April, my roommate and I were on our rooftop deck enjoying the sun and sights of the ‘Jesus Saves’ sign (can be seen from roof top decks in fed hill).  Coincidentally, my now husband and his roommate happened to be on their roof top decks enjoying the same!  We did the introductions and played seven degrees of Baltimore separation.  Come to find out, my husband and I grew up only a few miles apart, went to rival high schools in Baltimore County AND went to Towson University (he is a year older).  In all of those coincidences, we had never met until then.

A few weeks later we all happened to be enjoying some beverages on the decks again and he and his friends were heading out to the bars to celebrate his birthday.  He asked if I wanted to join them and the rest, as they say, is history…we have been dating since and continued our Baltimore-themed love story when he proposed to me at the top of Federal Hill on the park bench (June 2012). We had our engagement party at Little Havanas (one of our favorite spots)  in September 2012, and were married at Pier 5 Hotel on 12.31.12, enjoying the background of the city and the fireworks to ring in the new year and start life together.

We come back to the city often to enjoy dinner, drinks and other fun events (we live about 20 minutes outside of the city in AA county).  And I work in McHenry Row, close to where it all began.  We were both born and raised in Baltimore County and we can’t wait to raise our children in such a fun and exciting city where our story began.

A Fluid Moment

Originally published on February 6, 2014 – I joined fluid movement on a whim after seeing their wacky performances and crazy costumes at the local pool. For two years I splashed around with them, practicing my sculling and my egg-beater floatation tricks. I poured so much glitter on that even now, years later, I find it in my house.

I was a single person who went out with guys for fun, challenge, excitement and, occasionally for sex but I was ill equipped for romantic relationships.  I tried now and then but found that letting anyone too close made me squirm like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs so I never let it get too deep.

For the most part, I kept my dates and my friends separate to avoid uncomfortable experiences like the one that manifested two summers ago.  One of my friends took a shine to one of the folks I was briefly, and casually, dating.  Her enthusiasm over-rode her common sense (as enthusiasm often does) and she impulsively invited him to join her for a summer frolic in the pool. She saw it as the beginning of a wonderful relationship. I saw it as breach of the friend code.

As a result, my summer camp for grown-ups was tainted with the oppressive, in-your-face happiness of two folks in the beginning stages of love while I sucked my thumb over hurt feelings and bruises to my ego. I thought it might be best if I withdrew from Fluid Movement.  I decided to go to one final practice and then tell the director that I can’t make the commitment. We lined up around the parameter of the pool and prepared to synchronize an entrance when a tall, thin man with piercing blue eyes took the place in line beside me.

During the course of the practice I learned that he had recently moved back to Baltimore to be closer to his family. He joined Fluid Movement because his profession was pretty dry and he wanted to have some creative outlets. He admitted to feeling a bit strange about wearing tights and glitter on his fingernails but he was completely game to give it a go.

He was gentle, articulate, intelligent and real.

“This is the kind of man I should be with.” I thought.

Suddenly, quitting seemed less interesting to me.  I didn’t know at the time that he had come to practice that day with the intention of quitting, too, but decided to wait and see what came of it.

There was a lot of splashing and floating and saving each other from sinking before it became clear to us that we might be onto something.  I worried that I might be using him as a buffer against the difficult feelings that I was struggling with. I told him so because I didn’t want to mislead him.

“I can be your buffer for a while.” He said and I knew right then and there that I wanted him to be my buffer for a long, long time.

In July of 2012 we went on our first official date. We literally saw fireworks.  In December of 2013 we decided to dive in to a life together and, somehow, with him beside me, I am no longer afraid of the deep end.

Contest: Tell Us How You Met Your Honey, Win Bubbly and Dinner for Two

By B. Boyd

Originally posted on February 5, 2014 – Sure, it’s sort of sweet to hear how Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen met and melted on a blind date, and how Jada Pinkett Smith met Will Smith ages ago at an audition for “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” — but didn’t court till years later when Smith had “become a responsible young man” — and it’s freaky intriguing to read how TomKat sealed their first-date fate in her press agent’s office. But here at Baltimore Fishbowl, we’re more interested in the quirky, human, non-celeb stories of meeting and making promises to each other (whether you’re married or not). In honor of Valentine’s Day, tell us how you met and you could win a free romantic dinner for two at Pazo.  

Tell us your story in the comments, or send it to editor@baltimorefishbowl. If it’s our favorite, you’ll win the prize of dinner for two at Pazo in Harbor East. We’ll announce the winner on Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14.  (Sorry, you can’t redeem the dinner until after Valentine’s Day weekend — but we’ll give you a gift certificate for a bottle of sparkling wine from Bin 604 so you can still celebrate over the weekend.) Deadline for submissions is midnight on Feb. 13.

Come on, it’s quick and painless — and fun — to skip down your own Lovers’ Lane.

As a sample example, here’s my Meet Cute micro story.

My husband, Michael, and I first met at a friend’s Christmas office party several years ago. He wore a huge winter coat with the color flipped up, a la Steve Winwood 1989, and didn’t take it off the whole time. I told my friend, “No, I don’t think so.” But that doesn’t count, because we met again a few months later in the spring at a fiction reading at the Minás Gallery in Hampden, where we happened to sit beside each other in the back of the room, not that we had much so say. When my eccentric and emotionally up-and-down ex-boyfriend, who happened to be in attendance in the front of the space, glanced back and spotted us together, he assumed we were just that, together. Without delay he began to give Michael the evil eye, like somebody in a comic strip; he turned around in his chair and practically snarled for the length of one endless-feeling short story. Michael shifted in his seat while my face burned burgundy. Suddenly we had something pressing to discuss.

“Do you have any idea why that man appears to be bent on killing me?”

“Um, who?” I said.

“This man staring us down.”

“Oh, him.”

“Yes, the snarling one,” he said politely.

“I think he’s still working through some anger…over our breakup.”

As the reading continued, my ex calmed down and eventually turned himself around, but Michael and I didn’t want to stop talking. I noticed such a kindness in his eyes — he felt sorry for my awkward predicament — and he liked my lopsided haircut and heard me when I spoke. We commented on and critiqued the literary material, even as it was being recited; we discussed trips we’d taken and pets we’d taken in; at the intermission, he asked for my number. I felt like I’d known him years.

“Of course,” I said.

But my ex scurried over to “greet” us and I never had a chance to jot it down. Later, Michael emailed our mutual female friend for my digits, but he felt shy (and apprehensive about the angry guy) and didn’t call me up. Instead, after waiting a while, I emailed him: “Would you like to grab a drink?” “Yes!” he replied, within minutes. And the rest is our history–to be continued (see continued stories about B. Boyd and Michael at Sperm Donor #4282: A Love Story and Fear of Injection).

See, easy as peanut butter pie with two forks.

How’d your meet your honey? Tell us in the comments.

7 replies on “Contest Update: Love at the Cat’s Eye Pub”

    1. No. No word limit. There is no space limitation on the internet so feel free to use as many words as you need to tell your story. We have had 50 word posts and 2,050 word posts and both have had plenty of readers.

  1. When people ask us how we met, we smile and respond “in a bar!” But there was quite a bit more to it than your usual bar pick up in NYC.

    I was fighting a cold and not feeling up to going out but gave in to my friends’ repeated requests to join them at our hang out. Jake was visiting from Baltimore for a friend’s wedding and staying with another friend, Chris, for the weekend. Also not feeling well, he agreed to be Chris’ wing-man to come and get “this girl’s number.” (“This girl” was me.) We spent the next few hours talking, more like me being grilled by Jake because he found my answers to his questions very intriguing. They both left with my number as Chris was going out of town the next day and Jake wasn’t sure what he was going to be doing after the wedding. We decided to meet up back at the bar that night.

    As coincidence would have it, I was traveling to Maryland the following weekend for the Carolina – Maryland football game and happened to have an extra ticket. I invited Jake to join me but had to warn him that the others in our group included my parents, my best friend since high school and her boyfriend of 5 years. Not having gone to a school with major sports teams like that, he agreed to meet us.

    That was over 16 years and two children ago. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  2. I met my guy on, what else, a date. It’s always a little sad that it was a such a generic venue, but in my experiences I met some cool, very non-generic people, so I call it a success =).

    I don’t remember him particularly standing out to me on the site. In fact, when he responded to my initial contact, I sifted through his account wondering what in fact had drawn me in? It must have been a late night “Why not cast the net wide?” moment. He was tall (score!) and active (who actually would admit they aren’t?) but, on paper seemed rather boring, so I must have “winked” in a spirit of hopefulness.

    We met in Fell’s Point, both after extensive, secret Googling of each other, and now both saddled with slightly negative perceptions from our Google findings. For me, the meet was overshadowed by his uncanny resemblance to my stereotypical frat boy soon-to-be ex-roommate, something I had somehow overlooked in my online perusing. Just perch a backward baseball cap on that blond head attached to the tanned body in the preppy clothes and he was a dead-ringer. Ever a traditional fella, he was reeling from the fact that my nose stud was still in, despite my non-teenager, non-Indian status. Over burgers at Cooper’s Tavern he talked incessantly and hyperly, making me cautiously recall a coworker’s blind date with what turned out to be a cocaine addict. I wondered if I would end up with a drug user online dating tale. I remained optimistic—either way it was a good story. Later in the evening, over a beer at the now shuttered Shuckers, he shared an entirely unrelatable, ridiculous theory about how sneezing is such a vulnerable moment you shouldn’t acknowledge it with a “Bless you.” But, at some point I realized maybe the motor mouth was nerves and indeed, there might be a supremely interesting, dare I say, highly nerdy person in the incorrect body and correct social skill set. He had thought a lot more about tithing more than the average 27-year-old. He was actually active, maybe loving the sea as much as I did the mountains. And, I laughed. Constantly. At his self-conscious jokes, his college experience, his attachment to his flip flops long past their prime, and the way his face contorted when he realized he was talking too much or got excited that he was.

    He didn’t seem dangerous and life is short, so I said he could drop me off at my Little Italy home in his huge pickup truck. He parked where unfortunately most of my neighbors were sitting on their porches drinking their wine with a prime seat to witness our next actions. A first-date drop off in a truck is inevitably awkward. Stretch across the canyon between seats for a hug? Primly shake a hand? Smile and sprint? For me, a slight prude, a kiss was out of the question, especially because I hadn’t completely negated the possible drug addict angle. “We should hug,” I said, hopping out of the truck, rounding around the back to… an empty seat in the running vehicle. I headed around the passenger side. Nothing. After a few baffling laps, we finally found each other near the front. “It was fun,” I said warmly. “…You’re weird.” He immediately looked understandably stricken. “No! That’s a good thing… to me,” I rushed to say, leaning in for the hug.

    We’ve been weird together ever since.

  3. This is unheard of in this day and age , but on Feb 15, 1964 , a week after the Beatles debut in America , I was all of 15 yrs old, I went to a CYO (Catholic Youth Organization)dance at our parish in East baltimore–saw a girl of 14 and was immediately love struck and said to myself –I’m going to marry that girl–that was 50 years ago. After 7 years of dating and finishing college, we’re married 43 years. I’d do it all over again

  4. When we are asked how we met, the short answer is “We met at a bar.” But this is the whole story…

    He begins: Our story begins with a date. No, not a brilliantly matched blind date—she was actually out with another guy! We both were at the same, crowded D.C. bar one chilly, January evening. I was there with some friends and, in spite of our grand plans to meet women, we were doing our typical wallflower routine and keeping to ourselves. After we had been there for a while, my friend Eric showed up. Eric had shaken off the bad vibes from a date that ended poorly earlier in the evening and eagerly announced, “Hey guys! I just saw my cousin with some girls – we should go talk to them!”

    She continues: Yes, I was on a date! However, I was not enamored with the guy, and thus was so relieved when I spotted my 2nd cousin Eric, who I hadn’t seen in at least 5 years, across the room (and since this was pre-Facebook, I had no idea what he was up to!). And then I saw his friend, Jeff, and thought, “This guy is really cute.” And then we began talking, and I thought, “And this guy is really interesting and smart too.” But then they left, and since he never asked for my number, I thought, “I guess he wasn’t interested…”

    He continues: Eric introduced me to Stephanie, and right away I was drawn to her. Perhaps it was the flannel shirt. Well, more likely it was that her beauty and beautiful spirit both struck me immediately. We seemed to hit it off, and I got the sense that the feelings were mutual. She seemed to be flirting and I hadn’t the slightest clue that she was on a date with another guy! As the evening drew to a close, I assumed (incorrectly) that Eric had his cousin’s phone number, so I left without asking her. Me: “You don’t have your cousin’s phone number? You’re kidding? Right?” Eric: “No. I’m not kidding. She’s not a close relative.” Me: “@^&*!”

    She continues: Later that week, resigned to the fact that I wouldn’t see Jeff again, I nearly passed out when the phone rang and I heard on the other end, “Hi Stephanie. This is Jeff – the guy you met on Saturday.” It turns out that having a listed number back then was a fabulous thing! Jeff called 411 (remember those days???) and got my number!

    Epilogue: We showed our good judgment when we decided to leave D.C. and settle down in Baltimore, where we were married in July 1999 (with Eric, of course, as best man). Now, fourteen years later, we have 2 wonderful young sons, who we’ll be with on 2/14 (our babysitters have their love lives to tend to!), so a post-Valentine’s Day celebration at Pazo would be a luxurious treat.

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