The Great Husband Hunt
by Carole G. Vogel
Originally published by GenerationJ.com, Feb. 2001
When I was 21 and fresh out of college and marriage prospects, my mother confided her belief that I would end up an old maid. After all, she had met my father at age 16, and my older sister had wed by the time she reached 20. My two best women friends had already married and my closest male friend announced he was gay and living with a partner.
The isolation that enveloped me reached its zenith a few weeks later when my first true love, a man I had dated for 18 months and for whom I still pined, returned my old love letters. His brief accompanying note said that he was getting married and that my letters were too beautiful to throw out but his fiancé wouldn’t let him keep them. I reread my old love letters along with the letters from him that I had saved, and cried for days.
I didn’t know what else I wanted out of life but of one thing I was certain, I wanted a husband and kids. However, I was teaching elementary school by day, and returning to my parents’ suburban Pittsburgh home at night, a situation not conducive to meeting potential mates. I needed a strategy for finding the perfect man, so I sat down and generated a list of the qualities I was seeking:
1. The ideal mate had to share my religion. (To minimize conflict.)
2. He had to be either a medical student or a graduate student in the sciences. (I had a strong affinity for scientifically inclined men.)
3. He had to be a Democrat. (This was the time of the Nixon-McGovern presidential campaign.)
4. He had to be smarter than me. (I wanted a life-long companion who was intellectually stimulating.)
5. He had to be interested in photography. (My passion at the time.)
6. He absolutely had to have a good sense of humor. (No marriage to me could survive without one.)
7. He had to be great with animals. (I figured that if a man was loving and patient with his pets, these same nurturing traits would carry over to child rearing.)
8. He had to be able to serenade me on the guitar. (My notion of romance.)
9. He had to be at least 5 feet 10 inches tall. (What can I say?)
10. He could not be a drinker, smoker, or drug user, and he had to hate opera and football.
Having generated the list, I then narrowed down the places in which I could find a person with such qualities. I decided that only two locations in Pittsburgh had any potential–the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, and Mudge Graduate Dormitory at Carnegie-Mellon University (CMU). I had no idea how to gain access to med school parties, so I decided to focus my energies on Mudge. Every time I drove past it on my way to work, I was certain that my future husband lived there.
I began to hang out on CMU’s campus. One Friday evening as I was studying in the library, an old friend from high school recognized me. After I explained why I was there, the friend invited me to a party the next night with architect graduate students. At this party I met a man, I’ll call him “Bob,” who lived in MUDGE! Although I knew he was not right for me, we began to date. Like a hunter in search of good hunting grounds, I wanted access to Bob’s dormitory.
One day Bob invited me to his room to meet his roommate, and all three of us got into a loud and animated debate over the presidential candidates. Bob and his roommate were both die-hard Republicans, and I couldn’t believe that any college-educated person in my generation would support Richard Nixon. The door was open and Mark Vogel happened to walk by and overhear me shouting. He liked what he heard, and being friends with Bob, he intruded and took my side of the debate. What attracted me to Mark was that every time I began to lose steam, he picked up my argument and made my point even more brilliantly than I could have. Mark made me look smart.
Bob finally decided to get rid of Mark and the roommate by inviting me to the campus coffee shop for a bagel. The roommate decided to go, too, and Mark, even though he had just bought a carton of milk and a candy bar, announced that he was coming along.
And that was the beginning. Within the first three days of our meeting, I learned that Mark met almost every requirement on my list–he was my religion, he was a Democrat, he was smart, he had a great sense of humor, he was working on a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, and he loved his dog. He even had the same dark room equipment that I had been scrimping for. The two qualifications where he fell short were in height–he was only 5’8″–and he didn’t play the guitar. I was willing to overlook them.
Six weeks later Mark and I announced our engagement, and six months after that we were married. Thirty-five years and two kids later, I am absolutely certain that my husband-hunting scheme was the best plan I ever had. I just hope Bob ended up as lucky.