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A Valentine's Day bouquet of romance origin stories

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On this Valentine's Day, Brittany Luse of the NPR podcast It's Been A Minute is here with a Valentine's Day bouquet of romance origin stories.

BRITTANY LUSE, BYLINE: Mark Redant (ph) was rebuilding his life in the late 1980s. Divorced with a young son and facing eviction from his apartment, the 37-year-old was making ends meet selling Chryslers in Olathe, Kan.

MARK REDANT: I was a single guy, and I just thought, well, let's see if I can sell a car.

LUSE: Then LaDonna (ph) arrived.

LADONNA: I certainly wasn't looking for a date or a future partner.

LUSE: LaDonna bought herself a red and silver Plymouth Sundance as a graduation present.

REDANT: When she picked it up, I put a big ribbon around it and made a card, and everybody in the dealership signed it because she was just so cute.

LUSE: The pair eventually married and moved to Kansas City. The car stayed with them for years, during which it was stolen three separate times.

REDANT: The third time was somebody stole that car and they drove it through a stone wall at a high school and set the car on fire.

LADONNA: I mean, it was sad because obviously, this was kind of the physical object that our whole relationship started around.

LUSE: The couple did keep one memento from the beginning of their relationship - a card from the dealership LaDonna used to rate Mark's customer service.

LADONNA: I commented that I think he was looking for a date more than he was looking to, you know, make sure that, you know, I had the undercoating.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LUSE: A singles party for gay men sparked a love story, but not for who you might think. Karen Morris (ph) was in her early 20s, a graduate student at Stanford. She didn't even feel like going out that night, but she was at the party for her friend, who told her he needed a wing woman.

KAREN MORRIS: I thought I was the only woman there, and there was probably, like, I don't know, 60 men.

LUSE: Partygoers left notes on a bulletin board to make it easier to meet each other. And among all the notes the men had written to each other, one stood out.

MORRIS: Somebody at some point came over and was like, Karen, there's a note for you. And I'm like, what?

LUSE: And that was when she spotted one other woman at the party.

MORRIS: And so I found Christina (ph) and we went outside.

LUSE: Karen discovered that Christina was there as a wing woman for her guy friend, too.

MORRIS: From then on, we just started hanging out. And then finally, one of my really good friends said I think you really like her. And I'm like, huh, I think I do. And that's been over 25 years now.

LUSE: Since that Stanford party, Karen and Christina moved around the world together, had two kids, two dogs and a cat and got married.

MORRIS: It's been kind of a long journey for us. And so I look back on it, and so I think it makes me really happy. It makes me really proud.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LUSE: When he was a teenager, Michael Boyd (ph), from Dumfries, Va., was in a car accident that left him paralyzed on his left side and affected his short-term memory.

MICHAEL BOYD: You know, I did nothing. I had no friends or anything. So my dad was like, you know what? Why don't you get on the internet and maybe find somebody? And I'm like, oh, yeah, right. Whatever.

LUSE: This was 1996, the days of dial-up internet. His dad suggests he hop into an online chatroom. Remember those? Michael logs on, and before long, he's chatting with internet strangers.

(SOUNDBITE OF COMPUTER NOTIFICATION)

LUSE: He keeps seeing a screen name pop up in the chat room - Tammy.

TAMMY: I was in college at the time, writing papers in the computer lab. I didn't know what a chatroom was.

LUSE: Michael gets the courage to message Tammy.

(SOUNDBITE OF COMPUTER NOTIFICATION)

LUSE: They're around the same age. Michael is 22. Tammy is 21.

(SOUNDBITE OF COMPUTER NOTIFICATION)

LUSE: He learns that she lives 800 miles away in Palmyra, Wis.

(SOUNDBITE OF COMPUTER NOTIFICATION)

LUSE: They chat together about life, Michael's accident, their interests. Sometimes they chat all night.

TAMMY: We racked up $200 phone bills.

LUSE: Over a year later, they decide to meet in person.

TAMMY: Our families were kind of like, are you sure?

LUSE: By their second in-person meeting, Michael proposed to Tammy. Last August, Tammy and Michael celebrated their 25th anniversary.

TAMMY: Brooke (ph), our youngest, she said she tells everybody our story 'cause they didn't even think the internet was around back then.

(SOUNDBITE OF COMPUTER NOTIFICATION)

TAMMY: (Laughter).

INSKEEP: A few love stories from Brittany Luse of the NPR podcast It's Been A Minute. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Brittany Luse
Brittany Luse is an award-winning journalist, on-air host, and cultural critic. She is the host of It's Been a Minute and For Colored Nerds. Previously Luse hosted The Nod and Sampler podcasts, and co-hosted and executive produced The Nod with Brittany and Eric, a daily streaming show. She's written for Vulture and Harper's Bazaar, among others, and edited for the podcasts Planet Money and Not Past It. Luse and her work have been profiled by publications like The New York Times, The New Yorker, Vulture, and Teen Vogue.
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