Why are there so many single people in center cities? The lure of Seinfeld? Singles need little room so are well matched with small, old apartments offered in these amenity filled areas relative to living in boring, big McMansion Suburbia? Another answer is option value. By this, I mean what can happen in a uncertain world when millions of people live in close proximity. This type of story below is less likely to take place in Westchester. The velocity of the Center City causes more random permutations that makes this happy story actually have a happy ending. I want to know how many of you angry economists actually smiled after reading this article. The guy could have been you! Maybe Columbia and NYU aren't such bad jobs?
April 12, 2009
Dixie Feldman and Jeffrey Laite
By ABBY ELLIN
AS a setting for romance, the rolling thunder of a subway car, careening through the depths of Manhattan, is not high on the lists of most New Yorkers. But that’s where love found Sarah Feldman and Jeffrey Laite one morning in January 2007.
Ms. Feldman, known as Dixie, was in the middle of a heartbreak-induced depression when she left her Midtown apartment and took a downtown R train. Having just ended a 23-year exclusive relationship, she was determined to show the universe that true love hadn’t eluded her. So she set aside the mountains of self-help, philosophy and metaphysics tomes she had collected and headed to SoHo to buy lingerie at Agent Provocateur.
“It was an act of faith, spending lots of money on fancy lingerie that I was sure no one would ever see,” said Ms. Feldman, who is 46 and works in New York as the senior editorial director for The N, a digital cable network aimed at preteenagers.
As she entered the train, she noticed a man standing and reading “History of Philosophy, Volume IX.” That impressed her.
“I infer that people who read philosophy are people who think about life and wonder about it and just don’t take everything at face value,” she said. “I like that in a person.”
After silently willing him to look her way (he did not), she finally gathered the courage to ask him about the book. Mr. Laite, now 48, and she began chatting about whether reading philosophy had actually changed their lives. (She said yes; he was unsure). When he noted that there was a Monty Python ditty, “The Philosophers’ Song,” she sang it aloud.
Soon her stop came, and she suddenly faced a problem: should she stay and chat, or exit the train? She chose the latter, but just as the doors snapped shut she called out her e-mail address and said, “If you have any more book recommendations, let me know.”
She bought lingerie, but spent the rest of the day kicking herself for her hasty exit.
The redheaded Ms. Feldman equally intrigued Mr. Laite, a confirmed bachelor who said he had not been in a serious relationship “since the first Gulf War.” When they met, Mr. Laite, a freelance project coordinator for the banking industry, was heading home to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and was not thinking about romance. He was not unhappy being single; he simply figured this was how it was going to be and filled his days working, reading, going to movies and concerts and seeing friends.
Still, he Googled her that night and found a photograph of her holding one of her birds (she lives with four parrots and two dogs in her one-bedroom apartment). “I wanted to continue the conversation,” he said, and e-mailed her the names of his favorite books, including “Mere Christianity” by C. S. Lewis and “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” by Shunryu Suzuki.
They struck up a correspondence and discovered their shared affinity for swing music. In one exchange, Ms. Feldman mentioned that she was listening to a recording of Gene Krupa’s and Buddy Rich’s famous 1952 drum battle, adding, “Buddy so wins!”
“That might have been the first time I thought we would have more than a friendship,” Mr. Laite said. Still, he did not ask her out. “I wanted to be sure this was serious,” he said. “At my age, you don’t want to waste your time or anyone else’s.”
Dana Laite confirmed his brother’s caution: “My father asked me if I thought Jeff was dating, and I said, ‘He’s just conserving his energy until he meets the right one.’ ”
Soon, Ms. Feldman’s and Mr. Laite’s e-mail exchanges became flirtatious. At one point she told him of a bad work experience she’d had and, “I immediately wanted to reach out and make her feel better,” he recalled. “The relationship was becoming important to me.”
In late February he asked her out for pancakes. In agreeing to meet him, Ms. Feldman listed some of her harrowing potential deal-breakers: “I can’t drive, I can’t cook, I have four parrots, and upon opening a box of Pop-Tarts I will always eat them all, immediately.”
Each was nervous. Ms. Feldman thought of canceling a hundred times (her friends would not let her), and Mr. Laite showed up at 10 a.m. bearing not flowers but a stress ball. But the ease with which they fell in with each other surprised them both — so much so that Ms. Feldman found herself putting her head on his shoulder as they strolled along the street.
At the end of their breakfast date — 24 hours later — Ms. Feldman asked Mr. Laite what state, other than New York, he would he want to live in. “Well, what state are you in?” he replied.
The depth of their feelings tickled each of them, because on the surface they are opposites. Mr. Laite lives his life largely in books and movies and has a “spartan routine that would put a Samurai to shame,” said Ms. Feldman, whose apartment is the color of Pepto-Bismol, with a pink chandelier shaped like a giant octopus, expensive art commingled with paint-by-numbers paintings and a vast array of vintage memorabilia.
They dated for about three weeks before the word “love” popped up. Three months later they took a trip to Las Vegas. On the plane Mr. Laite looked at her and realized that they would be married. “Not planned, or hoped or wished for, but realized as a fact,” he said. “She’s smart, she’s funny, she puts up with my nonsense. She puts me at ease more than anyone else I’ve known. She makes me feel that I’m good for her.”
It took him a year to propose, which he did on his birthday the following June.
Still, their marriage will be decidedly nontraditional since the economy thwarted their plans to buy a two-bedroom co-op.
“I am a big believer in the man-cave, and my one-bedroom apartment is like Liberace and Carol Channing had a baby,” she said. “Jeff’s been a bachelor for 25 years or so — to be married is already kind of jarring.” They will maintain separate residences and spend weekends together.
They were married March 29 at Providence, a restaurant in Midtown Manhattan, which was decorated with all sorts of kitschy memorabilia, most of it culled from the bride’s private collection. The wedding had a “party like it’s 1929” theme, Ms. Feldman said. “A soulful era of contrasts: innocence and sin, optimism and cynicism, soft hearts and hard times.” The approximately 90 guests, were encouraged to dress in period costume and they posed for mug shots. Then, a 1930’s-style fedora perched on his head, Mr. Laite stood with his bride before Jen Laskey, a Universal Life minister, and recited his vows in gangster-ese: “You make me smile with my heart.”
Commenting on the bride — her tattoos winking out from her vintage-style wedding gown, her hair piled high like Lucille Ball — Lisa Beebe, a colleague of Ms. Feldman’s, said, “She has a look that’s very brash, but she’s the sweetest, gentlest person.”
“I see beyond the nerd in him, he sees beneath the gaudy in me,” the bride said. “For the first time in my life, Jeff makes me feel fully seen, fully accepted, fully loved.”