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Readers dish on best, worst and weirdest dates

By: Sarah Wojcik | C&G Newspapers | Published February 11, 2020

 Pierre and Marina Marcelin, of Grosse Pointe Shores, met while they were both working in Washington, D.C., after both missing their bus. They have a 15-month-old son named Elias.

Pierre and Marina Marcelin, of Grosse Pointe Shores, met while they were both working in Washington, D.C., after both missing their bus. They have a 15-month-old son named Elias.

Photo provided by Marina Marcelin

 Sue Fancett, left, and Dania Mial-Fancett, right, take a photo at Arch Rock on Mackinac Island in 2017.

Sue Fancett, left, and Dania Mial-Fancett, right, take a photo at Arch Rock on Mackinac Island in 2017.

Photo provided by Dania Mial-Fancett

 Rita and Phillip Belfiori, of Shelby Township, make a pit stop at White Castle after their  wedding in 1985.

Rita and Phillip Belfiori, of Shelby Township, make a pit stop at White Castle after their wedding in 1985.

Photo provided by Rita Belfiori

 Rita Belfiori dons a White Castle hamburger Halloween costume designed and created by her husband, Phillip.

Rita Belfiori dons a White Castle hamburger Halloween costume designed and created by her husband, Phillip.

Photo provided by Rita Belfiori

  Donna and Ron Carloni, of Grosse Pointe Farms, have been married for 46 years, and for the last 50 years have celebrated both Valentine’s Day and their first  date anniversary a week later.

Donna and Ron Carloni, of Grosse Pointe Farms, have been married for 46 years, and for the last 50 years have celebrated both Valentine’s Day and their first date anniversary a week later.

Photo provided by Donna Carloni

 Donna and Ron Carloni, of Grosse Pointe Farms, pose for a photo while they were dating around 1972.

Donna and Ron Carloni, of Grosse Pointe Farms, pose for a photo while they were dating around 1972.

Photo provided by Donna Carloni

 Cindy Shortt and Jim Simons, of Macomb Township, recently announced their engagement after their dogs brought them together at the condominium complex where they both reside.

Cindy Shortt and Jim Simons, of Macomb Township, recently announced their engagement after their dogs brought them together at the condominium complex where they both reside.

Photo provided by Cindy Shortt

 Jared and Jenelle Dellario, of Grosse Pointe Woods, pose for a photo when they reconnected. At the time, Jared was living in Kalamazoo and Jenelle was living in St. Clair Shores.

Jared and Jenelle Dellario, of Grosse Pointe Woods, pose for a photo when they reconnected. At the time, Jared was living in Kalamazoo and Jenelle was living in St. Clair Shores.

Photo provided by Jenelle Dellario

METRO DETROIT — Valentine’s Day is on the horizon, and with it a tidal wave of nuanced emotion and expectation. While some dismiss Feb. 14 as another Hallmark holiday, others pine for the perfect surprise.

C & G Newspapers asked its readers to submit their stories about love, specifically their best, worst or weirdest dates. We received the gamut of responses and compiled them below.


Missed the bus, but met the man
Marina and Pierre Marcelin, of Grosse Pointe Shores, would likely never have spoken if they hadn’t both missed the bus they were supposed to catch in Washington, D.C.

Marina had just left work at CNN and was going to meet her girlfriend for a drink, and Pierre, a wine broker from Bordeaux, France, was heading to a date with a different woman. After Marina saw the bus pull away and chased after it, she noticed a handsome man in a three-piece suit who also missed the bus mutter in French.

The pair began chatting and Marina offered to share her cab with Pierre. They exchanged numbers and Marina, on a whim, told Pierre to call her if the date didn’t work out. He ended up texting her from the bathroom of his date and they made plans to go to a park.

Their four-hour first date included wine and cheese, and they were married less than a year later. They relocated to Michigan, where Marina’s family lives, and have a 15-month-old son named Elias, who has already made two trips to France with his parents to visit Pierre’s family.


Love without borders
Dania Mial-Fancett, of Eastpointe, prides herself on not basing her life around who others thought she should be with. She said she was married to a “great guy” for years, had a boyfriend for years, and then met her wife, Sue Fancett.

Their relationship budded in 2007 when they both managed group homes for developmentally disabled adults. A close friendship blossomed into a romance when Dania kissed Sue at their boss’s retirement party.

While Dania said her family happily welcomed their relationship in a more progressive era, Sue endured years of discrimination and fear because of her sexual orientation. Dania’s grandmother shared with her stories of how her family shunned her for marrying a black man in the 1950s.

“I have always cheered for the underdog … from the sidelines (even before I became one),” Dania said in an email. “The fight for acceptance will end soon enough as the younger generation sees no issue with the LGBTQ community and are very accepting.”
    

White Castle or bust
White Castle was the go-to place for dates for Rita and Phillip Belfiori, of Shelby Township, while they were dating in the early ’80s and trying to save for a wedding and a house in East Detroit, now Eastpointe. Phillip even insisted Rita dress as a White Castle hamburger for Halloween one year, and he designed and created the costume.

When their wedding day came in 1985, the newlyweds naturally stopped for a snack after the ceremony at White Castle. Rita’s job took the couple out of Michigan for 25 years, but they made sure to return to White Castle whenever they visited family, and they introduced their sons to the “delicacy.”

Now retired, the couple is living back home in Michigan, and White Castle burgers are never far away.

    
From ‘hello’ to ‘I do’
Carl and Teresa Jasina, of Clawson, have a whirlwind “how we met” story.

Both of them were newly divorced and happened to be at the same bar in Clawson. Carl said he spotted Teresa, thought she was “beautiful as heck” and asked her to dance. He said he got lucky, because she agreed and the pair danced and talked all night.

Neither wanted the night to end, so they grabbed breakfast and coffee at Denny’s on Hall Road. Teresa gave Carl her number, and he decided to call her when he got home, around 7 a.m. She was awake, and the pair made plans to have dinner that evening.

After dinner, Carl went with Teresa back to her place and never moved out. He also asked her to marry him, within 36 hours of first meeting.    

The couple has been married for 32 years and has two children and four grandchildren. Their marriage stayed strong through Carl’s nine-month deployment in the U.S. Army during the Gulf War and Teresa’s battle with cancer — she is now a cancer survivor.

        
Canoe-robatics
Madelyn and Thomas Le Page, of Warren, still laugh about their first and last canoe trip 35 years ago, about one year before they were married.

The pair decided to take a long, leisurely canoe trip down the Au Sable River for a summer date. Madelyn said the former use of the river for logging operations resulted in dangerous collections of sunken logs in some areas.

Madelyn sat in front while Thomas manned the back. The inexperienced paddlers found synchronizing their strokes difficult and directing the canoe where they wanted it to go nearly impossible.

Their struggles came to a head when they approached a narrow area of the river and were moving straight toward a large pile of logs and downed trees. Unable to change direction, they hit the debris and capsized.

Madelyn tumbled into the cold, dark water — a scary experience. When she finally resurfaced for air, disoriented, she was utterly flummoxed to observe Thomas sitting in the canoe, completely dry.

He began to laugh hysterically and explained that he spotted an overhead tree branch, grabbed onto it as the canoe capsized, and slowly lowered himself back onto the canoe when it righted itself.


Double celebration
Donna and Ron Carloni, of Grosse Pointe Farms, first met at Ron’s homecoming party when he returned from Vietnam. Donna said he was “a bag of bones” and weighed 120 pounds, down from over 200, so she did not like that he weighed less than she did.

However, she said he quickly gained 20 pounds thanks to his Italian mother’s cooking, and she began to take an interest, which was heightened when he bought a “shiny blue 1970 Camaro with pinstriping.”

Donna said she waited for Ron to ask her out, but Valentine’s Day came and went. She was bummed, but he asked her out the next week for a night of dancing. He even bought new clothes to look sharp for the occasion.

“I love to dance and I came to love that man,” she said in an email. “However, I never really let go of the fact that I was heartbroken on Valentine’s Day. So to make amends, he celebrates both Valentine’s Day and a week later, our first date anniversary.”

The tradition has continued for 50 years, including the 46 they have been married.


Doggy deal breaker
An evening in an emergency room was a red flag that ultimately led to Harrison Township resident Sharon Soley’s decision to abandon a potential relationship.

Soley met a gentleman through her sister and her sister’s fiancé at the time. The pair shared a great conversation, and he invited her to his home so they could go out. He lived in a quaint home in Royal Oak, and she recalled the lovely summer weather.

However, once she stepped foot inside the house, the man’s Rottweiler charged through two rooms, knocked her off the front porch, wrestled with her in the front yard and clamped his jaws onto her thigh. Her date commanded the dog to retreat, and they went to the local hospital instead of on their date.

While they did end up going to Soley’s sister’s wedding together, Soley said she did not chance returning to the man’s home and she did not see a future that included the man and his beloved dog.


Spinach balls
Jenelle and Jared Dellario, of Grosse Pointe Woods, thought they had seen the last of each other. They met in college in 2000, dated for seven years, lived in Las Vegas together and then broke up because they were career-focused and not yet ready for marriage.

After much personal growth and a few failed relationships, the pair came back together because of one question: “Do you still have that spinach pesto dumpling ball recipe?”

Jenelle was hosting Thanksgiving at her new home for her entire family and she wanted the recipe the couple had made as an appetizer for parties when they were younger. She decided to call Jared out of the blue to ask for the recipe, and timing was on their side.

After seven years apart, they both found themselves newly single, both living back in Michigan and both ready for a second shot. They now have two children and will celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary in April.

And yes, spinach balls were on the menu at their wedding.

    
Bonded through the two B’s
Cindy Shortt and Jim Simons lived side by side in the same condominium community in Macomb Township, but had not seen each other until Simons and his new puppy showed up in front of Cindy’s condo one April evening.

Shortt said she was finally content with her life after being married for over 20 years and divorced for almost 10, free of relationship drama that her friends and family seemed to be going through. Simons, she said, was miserable after a 46-year marriage ended in divorce.

When Simons and his puppy, Bandit, showed up, Shortt said she wondered who was “invading” her space, but her 12-year-old dog, Baby, was eager to become friends with Bandit.

The early morning and evening meetings outside of Shortt’s condo continued for months until she agreed to a dinner invitation without the “two Bs” (Bandit and Baby).

“Little did we both know that our first dinner together, that I called ‘not a date,’ since I was not about to get involved in a relationship again, would turn into a precious blending of two lives,” Shortt said in an email. “Over three years of time together with both families and friends has given us the confidence to move ahead to a life together.”

The pair announced their engagement during family gatherings for Christmas 2019.

“All this was orchestrated because of the ‘two Bs’ guided by the hand of God,” Shortt said.

    
Spark plugs fail to ignite
After dating for about a year, Roseville resident Cheryl Arms said, she was eagerly anticipating her first Valentine’s Day with her boyfriend. She said she made sure to drop hints about how she loved the smell of red roses and how romantic it would be to go to a more upscale restaurant than White Castle or McDonald’s.

When Feb. 14 rolled around, Arms said, her boyfriend showed up in a white T-shirt, so she ruled out the possibility of a fancy restaurant. But he did have a medium-sized package under his arm, so she held out hope for jewelry or perfume.

She said he handed her the package with a “huge, happy smile across his face.” She unwrapped it and stared at it: a full set of spark plugs, neatly lined up. Tears welled up in her eyes, and she uttered, “Spark plugs? Really?”

He took her reaction for happiness and responded, “I’ll even install them for you.”

While Arms said it was a “memorable” Valentine’s Day and the relationship continued for a few years, his love of cars eventually took priority over her.