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Love is blind: Northland couples share their blind date success stories

Blind dates often get a bad rap, but nearly all the readers who wrote in about their blind dates in honor of Valentine's Day on Thursday had good experiences. Many of them have fond memories of meeting their spouse that way.

Blind dates often get a bad rap, but nearly all the readers who wrote in about their blind dates in honor of Valentine's Day on Thursday had good experiences. Many of them have fond memories of meeting their spouse that way.

It could be that those who've had bad experiences with blind dates have tried to wipe them from their memory. Or else they don't want to complain publicly about someone else. Here are just a few of the nearly two dozen responses we received.

Fellow Finn found

by Gladys Salmela

Being of Finnish decent, my husband, David, and I went to listen to a Finnish string band at Amazing Grace Bakery one night in September 2007. My husband, an architect, usually doesn't take much interest in our children's love lives, although he's always happy when they find the right one. He's usually too busy thinking about architecture.

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After the concert, I heard my husband asking a beautiful young blonde who was of Finnish decent if she was single. She answered that she was and my husband replied, "I have a son you have to meet." I was so embarrassed that he was interfering in Chad's life and gave him a sound scolding when we got to the car.

(Our 36-year-old son, Chad, is a retired U.S. National Team biathlete and has traveled widely and dated women from many different countries.)

A week later, Chad called to ask if we knew anyone named Mimmu Turunen, who had been e-mailing him to ask him to become involved in Finn Fest, a festival planned for Duluth this summer. He'd been dragging his feet on replying because he thought someone with a name like Mimmu Turunen had to be at least 65 years old. (My children grew up in a very Finnish-American household where most Finnish names have been attached to older people.)

A few days later, Chad called to tell us he had looked up Mimmu on Facebook.com and found out that she was not old at all, but very young and very "HOT" and they were having lunch the next day.

On Feb. 2, nearly five months after they met, they got married. Mimmu has slipped into our family as if she belongs there. We have never seen Chad so calmly happy.

It turns out that Chad and Mimmu have led parallel lives. They competed in Ostersund, Sweden, in the 1997 World Championships: he in biathlon for the U.S., she in bandy (a type of field hockey played on ice) for Finland. They both also worked at the Salt Lake City Olympics, as well as the Torino Olympics -- she at the hockey venue, he at the biathlon venue. Their paths never crossed until David intervened.

Mimmu told me that she has had many people trying to fix her up with sons, nephews and cousins, but she has never acted on any of them. I asked her why she acted on my husband's suggestion and she said, "Because he seemed so sure that I had to meet his son." Father knows best!

The Salmelas live in Duluth.

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Rummaging for a date

by Diana Machones

I was busy doing a rummage sale for my dad last summer, when his next-door neighbor's son came over and introduced himself as Jeff. The next day Jeff's dog came to the sale. I picked up the dog and walked across the yard and told him I had something that belonged to him -- his dog.

We started to talk and, during our conversation, Jeff found out I was a widow and immediately asked me if I would go on a blind date with his friend and co-worker, a really nice guy and a widower. I instantly said, "No, I don't do well on blind dates."

After chatting a while longer, I told him, "Why not, what do I have to lose? Maybe I'll make a new friend. Yes, I'll go out with your friend. Call him and if he's interested tell him to call me."

Jeff immediately called Joe and told him he must go out with me. Joe hesitated at the idea, but eventually gave in to pacify Jeff, who was very persistent. Joe called me that day. We talked a while and agreed to meet for lunch two days later. After the initial introductions and awkwardness, we ended up talking for nearly three hours. We left Grandma's restaurant and agreed to see one another again.

Over the next few months we discovered that we had a lot in common. We found that our ideas, thoughts, dreams and feelings were similar on everything. As the summer flew by we found ourselves falling in love.

Joe and I married on Nov. 17, 2007 -- five months from the day we met. And as fairy tales go, we are living happily ever after with two daughters and four dogs in a home that's filled with life, laughter and love.

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Joe and Diana Machones live in Proctor.

The similarities just keep coming

by Dan D'allaird

I was 29 and living in New York. A favorite co-worker of mine met a woman at a party, a friend of a friend, and left a phone message that I HAD to meet this woman that night, immediately, RIGHT NOW. I was out that night and laughed it off, especially as this friend had just described my recent dating decisions as "definitely very ... interesting."

Later that summer, my friend again told me I HAD to meet this funny, cute, engaging, all-around-fabulous woman before she met some other lucky guy. I said "sure" to dinner for six, with little faith that it would come to anything.

The night of the dinner I forgot the bottle of wine I had intended to bring, so I bought some Ben & Jerry's ice cream on the way to avoid coming empty-handed. As soon as I met Kristina, I regretted the ice cream purchase. She looked really fit and I feared she would divine my budding addiction to all things artificially sweetened.

It turned out she loved the ice cream. She thought my goofy answers during the game Taboo were endearing. We discovered another mutual friend we both liked a lot. Our religious views were uncannily compatible. She thought bald was beautiful.

And it turned out that her many loving references that weekend to her hometown of Duluth -- some windswept place in Canada, I assumed -- was my introduction to this great town, an introduction that has led us to five-plus years here as the happy parents of two children who will hopefully one day enjoy their own blissful blind dates.

Dan and Kristina D'Allaird live in Duluth. Kristina's parents, Bob and Angelica Fryberger of Duluth, also meton a blind date.

Good thing she agreed to the blind date

by Jill Hoffman

It was spring 1970, I was a junior at Michigan State University, and I had sworn I would NEVER go on another blind date. Although I had only gone out on one, it was a disaster.

My friend, Sue, who lived in the rooming house with me, had a boyfriend, Dale, and he was over all the time pressuring me to go out with his friend, Rick. I refused for five months, then just to shut him up, I agreed to go out on the condition that it was a double date. Dale said we'd go to a movie and that Rick insisted on paying for my ticket. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Dale told Rick that I WOULD PAY FOR MY TICKET!

At the movie, Dale and Sue paid for their tickets and then it came time for Rick and me to pay. Neither of us made a move. I remember crossing my arms and thinking, "What a cheapskate. Does he expect me to pay, since I was doing him a favor by going out with him?" And he was thinking, "I'll wait until she starts to get the money out of her purse, and I'll gallantly pull my wallet out and insist on paying!" I just kept my arms crossed (since I didn't want to go out on the date anyway and there was a principle involved here).

After what seemed like an eternity, Rick finally paid for our tickets. Later in the evening we talked about what Dale had told each of us and laughed and laughed. Our children love the story so much that they insisted I write this story. Rick and I have been married for 37 wonderful years, and so, yes, some blind dates really work out.

The Hoffmans live in Duluth.

'Deaf date'

by Sherry Seglem

The only blind date I ever went on was in 1983 and was jokingly called a "deaf" date. As a hearing-impaired person, I need to read lips to communicate, which can be a problem on nighttime dates.

Mutual friends set up the double date and even picked us up and drove us to the restaurant. It was an extremely foggy night with low visibility and I was a little nervous about the half-hour ride to the restaurant, expecting it to be awkward and quiet.

I needn't have worried. Our friend kept the interior lights on in the car so we could see each other to communicate, and communicate we did! We talked nonstop all the way to the restaurant, during dinner and all the way home again. Our only worry became our friend's driving in the fog, with the interior lights further reducing visibility.

Communication never proved to be a problem on that date and, 25 years later, it still is going strong. Scott and I were married just five months after that blind date in a ceremony close to Valentine's Day.

Sherry and Scott Seglem live in Wrenshall.

Play Mr. Cool

by Rod Lubiani

I met my wife, Lori, on a blind date in Denver. It's one thing I told myself I'd never do.

My buddy met two women and asked me if I wanted to go on a blind date with one of them, and I refused. He begged me and told me she was good-looking and if I didn't help him out, her girlfriend would not go out with him. I gave in, but I told him if she was skuzzy, I was gone.

When we arrived at their apartment, he walked in first and I came in after him. I was dressed fit to kill, with shined shoes, nice clothes and a suede jacket. She was beautiful, with long legs, a beautiful smile, perfect hair and beautiful blue eyes. I was hooked.

As I was being introduced to her, a Siamese cat they owned ran across the room and landed on the back of my neck. It was the biggest cat I'd ever seen. I reached back and threw the cat clean across the room, then was back to Mr. Cool in a flash.

Three months later we were married. We've been married for 41 years -- the best 41 years of my life. I thank God every day for the gift God has given me. She is the love of my life. She's beautiful and sexy. She's my wife, my love, a good mother and my very best friend. I could not live without her.

The Lubianis live in Duluth.

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