Whenever I walk through Central Park, I think about all the serendipitous meetings that have happened there over the years. Of friends and lovers, alike. Especially on that glorious first day of spring — where the world spills into the park, searching for sunshine and love. I think about the side glances that happen here, followed by a coy smile. The flipping of pages through a book that you're no longer paying attention to because "they" walked by. The sweet promise of a stranger catching your eye, a meet-cute in the making, as you both happen to read the same park bench plaque. Admittedly, I'm not single, but that doesn't mean I don't love being around the promise of love for others. If this is their opening scene in a movie that isn't actually being filmed, I do adore the idea of being an extra in it. Perhaps my ending credit will be "Woman in park with dramatic hat # 3" and my one line will be directed at our heroine, asking "Excuse me, but do you happen to know how to get to Strawberry Fields from here?" But she won't hear me. She'll have locked eyes with him well before I uttered the word "strawberry."
Call me crazy, but for as much as we love praising and bemoaning dating apps, I have this sneaky suspicion that meet cutes might be on the rise this summer as we slowly re-enter the world.
For the indoctrinated, let's define a meet-cute shall we? Ahem...
Meet-cute: noun; a cute, charming, or amusing first encounter between romantic partners as in a movie (but for the sake of today's post, let's assume platonic meet cutes are fair game too!). Notable cinematic moments include Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant in his travel book store in Notting Hill. Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the elevator in 500 Days of Summer. Eva Mendes and Will Smith in a failed pickup attempt at the bar in Hitch.
While they're usually among the most contrived moments in movies, they typically never fail in cueing the warm and fuzzies. And judging by the stories below, I think they also prove that sometimes, the best first encounters, are far better than scripted fiction. Without further adieu, here are your meet cutes you so graciously shared with me...
1. "We were both at the same party and the house we were in only had one bathroom. There was definitely some drinking involved in this story. Anyway, I noticed the guy since I first got to the party and we exchanged a few glances. I went to use the bathroom at one point, as one does. So I'm in there, I hear someone knock but I locked the door so I say, "Just a minute!" Before I can do anything else, the guy I was exchanging glances with earlier BARGES INTO THE BATHROOM, breaking the lock and part of the door itself. He notices me, says "Sorry, I really gotta go!" and then proceeds to relieve himself in the bathtub across from me. Turned away from me, thankfully.
He then introduces himself while I'm washing my hands, laughing my butt off. I introduce myself as well and then I left. We didn't hang out again for maybe five years, but now we live together and have been going strong for almost 2.5 years and he still makes me laugh every day."
2. "Back in 2012, I was working in a brew pub behind the bar. At lunch time, this guy sat at the bar and ordered a beer. He drank up, took his jacket and left without paying. I ran after him, demanding he must pay. He looked at me surprised and explained that he was the new kitchen chef. That meant, he was allowed to have a drink on the house after work. I waved him off and told him in a stern voice, "You may leave then." Rounding up a couple of years later, in 2017, we were married and last year during our first lockdown, our sweet Baby Benjamin was born. To top it off, at our wedding, we had four couples attending (partially married and with kids) who had also met at the same bar. I guess some places give off extra love vibes."
3. "I was working and studying in Florence, Italy at the time (so we got the setting), it was FIFA summer and I was sat out at a sports bar drinking 5 Euro beer waiting for some friends. Sat at the next table was a woman on vacation from NYC. We started a conversation and hit it off right away! She's like THE person I want to be when I grow up. Fast forward a couple of days, it was my birthday and she suggested drinks at one of the fancy lounge bars in town. It was the most beautiful bar in an old palazzo. While we were drinking the rosé, one of the managerrs came and asked us how we were doing, then lingered to chat. He was so charming and the whole situation just seemed so scripted I was totally enchanted. We exchanged numbers and dated for a while ... but it turns out it wasn't meant to be. However, my cool, hip NYC friend who started multiple businesses by herself and I are still going strong."
4. "I was attending my dear friend's wedding. College housemates. Not traditional students. The wedding was in a beach house. August. Hotter than the hinges of Hell. There was an attractive man who helped hold the houpa. Later at her reception, she told me she had planned to 'match' him with either me or another mutual friend at her wedding. (What in the world?!) Well, we never did meet during her reception. But at the end of the after party, he was returning from an ocean swim, came in the house, and I noticed how spotless, devoid of sand, his feet were. We said hello. I know I kept looking at his feet. There might have been some champagne on my part along the way. I went home. Four months later, we made a date for the PMA, a Saturday afternoon. Two years later we were married. And he still comes off the beach with no sand on his toes."
5. "I left my marriage last year after being unhappy for quite sometime. We shared nine years together but more bad outweighed the good. It was a loveless marriage. I was denying myself love because I felt like I didn't deserve it so I thought it was OK to stay unhappily married. Finally left after having the courage to do so. Started dating, hated it. Hated it. Took a break and started again at the end of February at the urging of a friend. Met someone, Tyler. We hit it off right away. The connected was so deep and strong, it blew me away. Both of us. Feelings were developed right away. And that scared me. It scared me how much he wanted to be with me and how much he could care for me. I kept pushing him away and breaking up with him. But he wasn't leaving. I was dealing with so much at the moment. And to be honest, I felt like I didn't deserve love. Who would want to love me after I failed at keeping my marriage together. He broke up with me finally. Last week.
I have never experienced heartbreak. I am 37. I am dying inside. I know this man is meant for me and I pushed him away. I've apologized repeatedly and I know this is my fault. I have never felt a love like this or felt this way about anyone ever. I'm just afraid that something good that could have been great, came to an end without anyone of us knowing what great memories we could have created together. He is my person. He was my heart. I fucked up and don't know what to do. I've consulted a couple of psychics and most of them said he feels the same way, he loves me and wants to be with me but he's afraid I'll break his heart again. And I know I hurt him.
They say give him time, he'll come around. But not sure how long this will last. I've lost 15 pounds in two weeks and my insides are broken. I broke my own heart and it hurts more than you'll ever know."
6. "My husband and I met while working on a production of Spring Awakening. He was a lighting design assitant and I was an intern for a college class. We got along but when the summer was over, I went back to school half a state away. A few months later on New Year's Eve, he asked for my email to send me a few pictures I needed. I sent him my email and he then asked for my number and it was okay to call me sometime. A few days later while I was in still in town, I reached out and he suggested we go get a drink. I was a friend's nearby so I agreed. Here's where the meet cute really happens...I thought we were just grabbing a drink and catching up but instead, I walked into a fancy wine bar in yoga pants and my college sweatshirt (having just been in the area). He's wearing a nice outfit, has a bottle of wine and a cheese plate. My favorite! Embarrassingly, I sit down and he acknowledges that my football team should win the big game in a few days and immediately made me feel more comfortable. We hit it off right away, had another date that Valentine's Day and the rest is history. We finally eloped this past Christmas (during the pandemic) on the day we'd gotten engaged in London a few years prior. We have a real wedding/party planned for next year once everyone is vaxed. He still loves that sweatshirt."
7. "Met my husband at a play mutual friends brought him to. He was fresh out of recovery and totally wrong on paper but I knew he was going to be my husband the first time I laid eyes on him."
8. "My boyfriend is from Michigan, I'm from Rhode Island and we met at a bar in Boston.
I was there for a friend's 21st birthday and he was visiting his brother for the weekend. I approached him at the bar knowing I had seen him somewhere but couldn't place it at first...It turned out that we both went to the same university, had taken a class together and had many mutual friends (even found him in the background of a photo from a party a few years back).
We like to think fate had a little bit to do with it as we had both been spending a lot of time working on ourselves and our goals right before we met. Just felt like we weren't ready to meet until that point but two years later and we are still as cheesy and romantic as when we first started dating."
"I met my boyfriend in our office parking lot. He would manage to come in a half hour before I arrived, we would exchange awkward smiles while getting out of the car. Walk in silence to the elevator and every day his question to me would be 'Floor 7?' Until he finally mustered the courage to ask me, 'Coffee?'"
9. "I'm from Southern California, B is from NYC. In 2008, we were both on Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited, riding overnight from NYC to Chicago.
B went to the cafe car to work for a few minutes. I came in with some people seated next to me to play cards and we asked to share the table with him. Soon, we were all playing cards. After a while. the others left and B and I talked for 9 hours, until the sun rose over the horizon. We exchanged info and got married seven years later, with a model train atop our wedding cake.
We still take the Lake Shore Limited every year and celebrated our anniversary there in 2018. Some of the conductors know us! We're excited that Biden is in office for many reason — including more funding and an expansion for Amtrak!"
10. "We lived on opposite sides of the country — he in Delaware and I was in California. We met drunkenly in a hotel hallway in Reno, Nevada. Both of us were at a convention and walking back to our respective rooms, which happened to be right next to each other. He had to walk past mine and I had to walk past him and we literally walked into each other. I mean, I stepped into his path to walk away from someone hitting on me and he was just trying to get some sleep. He laughed and introduced himself. We both were dating other people at the time, but we became best friends for a few years. We both became single three years later after we met. He was making a trip to come out to California for a work trip and I picked him up at the airport, where he met met at the gate, dropped his bags and kissed me like I had never been kissed. Seven months later, I moved across the country to be with him and it's been adventure ever since."
11. "I met my husband at a London nightclub. It was a case of third time lucky on the night. The first time we were on the dance floor with our respective friends and we said hello and small talk. Then we became separated. I met him again about an hour later, he coming down the stairs I was about to go up. He asked me if I'd like a drink so I'd said I see him back at the bottom of the stairs in 10 minutes. Unfortunately, we missed each other. Fast forward another hour or so to the last dances of the night, always slow ones! We were searching for each other at the edge of the dance floor and finally reunited, danced and exchanged phone numbers (no mobiles then!) and found we lived only a couple of miles from each other in the suburbs. Married within two years, and three and half decades later, here we are with three young adult children. My late father frequented the same club in his youth and said young men only went there to meet young ladies. Well, he was right on that one!"
12. "My husband moved to NC from Buffalo for a job. My parents and a family friend happened to work at the same place. He was hired in August, and the family friend immediately tried to set us up. He wanted me to come for a chance encounter to introduce us. I kept saying no. In February, I was having a drink with a friend and she mentioned that a friend of hers from work was going to meet up with us. I wasn't super thrilled with that notion and was starting to plot my exit when her friend joined us with his friend in tow.
After being rather standoffish, the unexpected friend came over and began chatting with me. He mentioned where he worked, and I sort of perked up. I told him that I knew people there...and as he explained his story a bit more, I said, 'Oh my gosh. I know who you are. Your boss has been trying to set us up for a while now.' David said, 'I didn't know anything about that.' To which I replied, 'Yeah, well I wasn't interested.' And he said, 'Well, are you now?'
Turns out...I was. We've been together for 10 years now."
13. "I worked in the same building as a Wawa (convenience store chain). One day, I saw him standing outside on a break and I panic-froze. So I avoided him for a month, which was hard, because I needed Wawa every day for my coffee and Twix. So I purposely never got in his line, I always tried to hide my face. It's embarrassing.
One day (Obama's Inauguration Day!) he was the only person at the registers. So I sucked it up. He was painfully adorable. We chatted awkwardly about what day it was, and I went back to work.
My coworker saw this happen and followed me in, asked me to write my number down. She went back to the Wawa and slapped it down on the counter in front of him and told him to call me after 6. And he did. A 6:15. We moved in together nine months later. We've been together ever since."
14. "I met my boyfriend in our office parking lot. He would manage to come in a half hour before I arrived, we would exchange awkward smiles while getting out of the car. Walk in silence to the elevator and every day his question to me would be 'Floor 7?' Until he finally mustered the courage to ask me, 'Coffee?'"
15. "My partner and I met at an away camp in Maine the summer before the last year of high school. He lived in Nova Scotia and I lived in Massachusetts, but we instantly clicked. We started writing illustrated letters to each other (nerds, haha) for the next two years, dated long distance for four years after that while in university (I in Boston and he in Halifax) and eventually I moved to Canada. We've been happily married for a few years now and have one cat."
16. "I lost my first husband on 9/11. Five years later, I'm having lunch with my sister and a friend. The friend gets a call. Heard him say, 'Come meet us. We're at Peter Lugers.' Next thing I know, this guy walks in. So handsome. It's his friend. Lost his wife a few months ago. Sits down with us. We spend the whole lunch talking and crying about our losses. He calls me the next evening. We speak for two hours. First date, next night. Never ever apart after that. Married a year later. He came along and saved me when I didn't even know I needed saving. He protected me and took care of me. He knew how rough 9/11 was on me with two young boys. I lost him seven months ago after 14 years. I am beyond heartbroken.
For my Lonny, my lost I lost on 9/11. Twenty years fast approaching...mind boggling. I want people to remember was really lost on 9/11. All those beautiful souls had lives and families and need to be spoken of and remembered. "
And my Berky...who was like my knight who came to save me from all the horrors of 9/11. Life can be so unfair.
I'm trying to wrap my head around how I lost both of the loves in my life. And neither one of them were able to have a funeral after passing. Life is temporary. Love the shit out of those who love you."
17. "My best friend was obsessed with the barista who worked at the coffee shop across the street from both of our respective office buildings. At the peak of my 'wing manning,' I had developed a two latte a day habit purely so I could see if he was in (or at their sister location a few blocks away). She finally got the guts to ask him to hang out. And then invited him to her housewarming party a few days later. At said party, her cousin accidentally found them making out in the coat closet. They've been married now for four years or so, and are expecting their first baby this summer. I guess my caffeine addiction was well worth it."
18. "I met my (now) husband when I was wildly tipsy with my BFF in Bushwick one night, 10 years. ago. I had a crush on him before I saw him that night. He worked at Beacon's Closet and I would always go in looking for him. The cute part was the fact that he texted me the next day and we went back to the same bar...the not-so-cute pat was that fateful night my BFF knocked half her tooth off on my toilet. What a hot mess."
19. "Didn't end happily ever after but hilarious nonetheless. I was at my favorite Italian spot in the West Village and didn't realize Jake Gyllenhaal was essentially spooning my chair and in my Italian/Colombia over-usage of hands and limbs, I got up from my chair and tried to smoothly throw on or squeeze my hands into my winter parka. As my right hand extended through the sleeve, I accidentally caressed his stomach and chest with the back of my hands or tips of my fingers (it all happened very fast and my brain momentarily stopped intake of oxygen). Anyway, it took all my training as an attorney and all the courage in the world to keep it together and not turn red (I was purple and red on the inside for sure), looking him in the eye (I'm sure he was awkwardly swallowing dry and in shock) and even though I most definitely wanted to bolt, calmly walked out of the building until I could scream outside in my native tongue — 'tragama tierra' meaning 'earth swallow me' (don't we all revert to childhood language in these situations?). I shrugged it off thinking I would never see him again but hysterically (and to my utter embarrassment and dismay) I've run into him way too many times to count, including one time at an IFC showing, and every time I think to myself, if we make eye contact (osmosis or telepathic acknowledgement) — yes, yes, that was me. I know, I know."
20. "My husband and I went to the same international school in Taiwan — we met in 7th grade on the school bus and he asked me to the winter formal. We kept in touch after high school but didn't actually start dating until after college. Our first movie 'date' (it was unclear because we've been friends for so long!), I wanted Indian food without knowing he has a sensitive stomach so he literally left the movie three or four times and had no idea what the movie was about. We got married 4.5 years ago. So we've known each other for more than half of our lives!"
21. "I met my husband under my desk at work. He was setting up my computer upgrades for me while I was out of the office in a meeting. The meeting got out early and found him there. I started talking to him. Five minutes of me just talking away, he pops his head out, realizes I'm there, and takes his headphones out."
22. "I went on a Tinder date and met my date on the corner of his block. When I walked up to him, he was talking with his neighbor. The three of us briefly chatted before our date and the neighbor invited us to our rooftop for drinks later that night. The date was enjoyable and I decided to stay for drinks on the neighbor's roof...at that point, my date became a creep and ended up making out with a friend of the neighbor. The neighbor and I ended up talking all night and he told me he saw me crossing the street earlier and thought, 'This is the girl for me,' and was surprised when I approached him thinking he had manifested it. Finding out I was his neighbor's date was a bit of a let down, but here we are, almost three years later still in love and very grateful my original date wanted to kiss other women that night."
23. "I went to a sports bar with some friends to watch a playoff basketball game. When I walked into the bar, I immediately spotted him — the tallest man in the room. His head was towering over the crowd. After an hour or two, I mustered up the confidence to approach him and offer him a shot (this seemed cool to me at 23). He said yes, we took a shot and talked the whole rest of the night. On June 16th, we celebrate our eight year anniversary of me offering him that shot!"
24. "I met my boyfriend when he was bartended at a bar in Brooklyn! My friend and I had just gone to the Brooklyn Museum and there was a neighborhood bar a couple of blocks away that we stopped in for what was supposed to be a single drink. As we were closing out our tabs several drinks later, my friend left my number for him on the receipt, and he texted me later that night. We've now been together for almost seven years! Although sadly, the bar has since been closed."
25. "My husband and I met as friends at a church Christmas party and didn't end up dating until August of that year. I admitted to him that when he walked in the door (he was with a guy who always got a lot of attention from the ladies) I immediately thought, that's my type, that's the guy I want to be with (I was dating someone else at the time). He later told me he thought the same exact thing about me and never thought I would ever go out with him. I stalked him on Facebook and asked him out! We'll be married for 10 years in November."
26. "I studied abroad my freshman year in Florence, Italy. While there, one night, I met an American stationed nearby. I remember thinking he was cute. We exchanged numbers, chatted for a bit, nothing more, nothing less. Fast forward three years, I visit an ex uptown by Columbia University. He (the American from Italy) sees me in the crosswalk — says my name — I don't see him (I remember hearing 'Tina' and wondering who had said my name). Fast forward another three years, I'm studying for the bar exam, swipe on Bumble and recognize a familiar face. It's him. Sorry to all the romantics out there, but we tried to date — it didn't work. We were more in love with the story than one another. But a DAMN good meet cute had it worked out."
"My boyfriend and I met all thanks to a collapsed building in Brooklyn. Last summer, while I was running errands in my neighborhood, a brownstone fully collapsed moments after I walked past it. Not injured but in a state of shock, I only recall a tall firefighter asking if I was hurt. He quickly ushered me away from the rubble, sat with me on the back of the firetruck, gave me water, a blanket and started a conversation. We talked for an hour before EMS took. over but not before we exchanged numbers. Today, he says it is the best call he's ever responded to and I call him my favorite first responded.
27. "I was home visiting my family in Chicago for a friends' wedding and then was flying back to NYC. My parents dropped me off at the airport and I was kind of hungover. I got on the plane was sitting next to this cute guy. We were delayed getting on the plane and I just knew I was going to fall asleep and was like well, he looks normal enough if I end up falling asleep on his shoulder. And well, I did. For the whole flight until we were landing and I woke up and then apologized and thought that was that. But then we were delayed almost two hours trying to get into a gate at the airport so we started talking and chatted the whole time. I learned he was coming to the city for the first time for a medical rotation and he didn't know anyone here. We were both really hungry since we were on a plane for almost the whole date because of all the delays so he asked if I wanted to get dinner once we got into the city. We got off the plane and both had to charge our phones so we sat there charging them on the ground and figuring out where his AirBnB was located. We then got a taxi and our driver was actually nice? He asked us where we were from and if we lived here etc. I told him I lived here but I didn't know about this guy because I just met him. He was like, 'You guys just met??' He told me I should take a picture of his license so I know he is normal and was so shocked that we. had just met each other and were now hanging out. We checked him into his AirBnB and then got dinner and walked through little Italy. Then he came back to my apartment and watched movies with me and my roommate and her boyfriend.
We went on a few more dates over the next week or so after that and then I went on a trip and then when I got back, he was going to be done with his program already and would be leaving. We talked about what we were doing and he wanted to try out dating even though we had only known each other barely a couple of weeks. I didn't think trying to date in different cities was the right choice since we still barely knew each other, especially while he was in a very busy medical program. I had just moved here and wasn't wanting to consider that with a person I barely knew so it was the right choice. It was so fun though and my friend I still joke about it."
28. "Back in 2015, I was living in Seattle, producing events. A girl volunteered to help and worked with me the day of the event. We hit it off so well! Instant friendship. We laughed and bonded over Drake's new song 'Hotline Bling' (it was new then at the least!) and spent the evening trying to photobomb the celeb guest at the event (which was Macklemore). The thing is...the next day I moved across the country to New York! We managed to stay virtual pen pals and a year later, I attended her wedding. Then three years later, she attended mine (in France). We're still in touch to this day (from afar)."
29. "I met my husband when my sister was dating his brother. It always seems very movie like to me, because when I met him, I didn't like him. I thought he was arrogant and rude. Turns out, he was just shy and lonely and we soon got together — so for a time, two sisters were dating two brothers. My sister and his brother split up a few months later, but we are now happily married, and have been together for 19 years this year. He is my soulmate, and I didn't know it was possible to be so very in love with someone. Oh — and because people always ask — my sister and his brother do still see each other occasionally. and it's not awkward or weird. My sister and his wife get along brilliantly!"
30. "My husband and I were college sweethearts. He lived five doors down the hall from me my freshman year. I was rooming with the most amazing person (actually my maid of honor) and she was on the volleyball team. My husband was on the football team. One day, she says come hang with me, I'm going down the hall to hang out with the football guys. So I went and eight years later (six dating, two married), we still very thankful we were randomly chosen to live five doors down from each other."
31. "One of my closest friends decided they wanted to go camping for their birthday. One the way there, she said she was going to invite a new guy she was dating and he was going to bring his cousin. Well that night didn't turn out so well as it rained all night long and we didn't have the rain protectors on our tents. So I got completely soaked and looked my absolute worst. I never saw that my friend's date had arrived that night with his cousin. That was until I saw him swim out of the water (we were by the ocean) and I was like, 'Who is that?' He came out and introduced himself. I was mortified because I looked horrible, but I thought, oh well. We all decided to go to have breakfast and end the trip. He confessed that he told his cousin on the car ride to breakfast that day that he was going to marry me. We have now been together for 15 years, married for five and are expecting our first baby in July."
32. "My now husband and I met at a singles event hosted by a local NPR station. I always used to joke with friends, 'I just want to meet a nice guy who enjoys listening to public radio.' So this event really spoke to me but I was skeptical, having never been to an event billed as a 'singles event' before. My now husband was maybe the second person I talked to at the event and the rest is history. We were lucky to have one of the hosts of the event (who had a show on the radio station at the time) deliver a pre-recorded toast to us at our wedding."
33. "We met at a chemical engineering conference, specifically at a luncheon for a student group that neither of us were officially a part of, but we both attended to get free food. We sat across from each other, ordered the exact same thing, and then got up the nerve to ask for his number after lunch. We texted for a few months, then he came to visit me (we lived across the county from each other) then decided to move in together after just a few months when I got a post-doc position in a different state. And ow we are awaiting our postponded-due-to-Covid wedding, nine years later!"
34. "I met my boyfriend in high school. We always had a class together but never really cared to socialize. He was a football player and I was a volleyball player for all four years — you know how that goes. Our mutual friend decided to have his birthday at my boyfriends house. I don't remember much about the party. But I sure do remember not being able to stop talking to him or hours — we just clicked! And have been together ever since then. Though the ebbs and flows of life, I wouldn't want anyone else to do life with than him, even after eight whole years!"
35. "My boyfriend and I met all thanks to a collapsed building in Brooklyn. Last summer, while I was running errands in my neighborhood, a brownstone fully collapsed moments after I walked past it. Not injured but in a state of shock, I only recall a tall firefighter asking if I was hurt. He quickly ushered me away from the rubble, sat with me on the back of the firetruck, gave me water, a blanket and started a conversation. We talked for an hour before EMS took. over but not before we exchanged numbers. Today, he says it is the best call he's ever responded to and I call him my favorite first responded."