Comparison Shopper Finds His Valentine

Gump-a-bump-a-rump-a! (Repeat – repeat)

No driver wants to hear this coming from under her car hood, even if it is my aging Infiniti. When I reported these scary noises to my husband Cliff, he immediately went into Investigator Mode. His problem-solving scenario proceeded like this: visiting a neighbor who restores antique cars, checking with an auto shop we’ve used before, and then contacting the dealership, the most expensive option. He wrote down notes for each, notes with names, dates, schematics, and most importantly, dollar signs.


He handles plumbing problems at home or HVAC hang-ups the same thorough way. Whether buying a new lawnmower, computer equipment or making travel plans, my husband Cliff is a comparison shopper supreme.

Once upon a time, Cliff used this same methodical system to find suitable dates. During college he had a little black book in which he entered names of girls to date. After they passed the sensational-physical-attributes test, their names and interests were entered into this book. Some girls’ names were crossed off the list because they were too giggly, walked like a duck, or were unable to sing on key.

Cliff went into serious search mode to find a mate after an unofficial engagement fell apart. Then his college roommate suggested he meet his next-door neighbor, a teacher and a Mennonite, during Christmas vacation. We met on a blind date In December 1965. I say blind because the normal-looking Mennonites he had known from the West were very unlike the girl standing in front of him, plain with hair coiled up under a prayer cap – me.

Maybe because of the mystique of our differences or because we had similar interests, ours was a whirlwind romance sustained by letters for months after Cliff returned to post-graduate work and me to teaching. Then his letters dwindled, probably because of his hesitation about dating a girl like me from such a strange background.

He went into comparison shopping mode again as he began his first year teaching, dating a nurse from a fine family. Later, he said after he had come to his senses, “I couldn’t get you out of my mind. I thought I would miss something if I said goodbye to you forever.”

According to Cliff, two things I did sealed the deal for him.

  • I made him a monogrammed bath robe for Valentine’s which kept him from freezing on off-campus housing his last few months in college
  • I called various hospitals to try to figure out in which hospital he was a patient when he had pneumonia and was too sick to contact me.

Fortunately our friendship was rekindled when we both attended the August 1966 wedding of the couple who introduced us. Now it was Christmas 1966, and Cliff drove from Jacksonville Florida to pick me up in Charlotte, North Carolina where I was teaching. From there we headed to my hometown, in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania in his white Plymouth Savoy.

Replica of Cliff's 1963 Plymouth Savoy now offered on eBay, poster
Replica of Cliff’s 1963 Plymouth Savoy now offered on eBay, poster

There one snowy evening before Christmas Cliff said, “Let’s take a drive.” So we bundled up and headed out, crunching footprints in the new fallen snow. Fat flakes were falling from the sky even thicker as we slid into the car, the plastic seats crackling from the cold. Memories of the evening have become a movie in my mind.

“Where are we going?” I quizzed.

“Oh, I don’t know. We’ll just take a drive in this beautiful snow,” Cliff replied rather lamely.

As he tried hard to urge the heater to warm us up, we reminisced about our first dates the Christmas before. “Do you remember how deep the snow was when we went to see the Sound of Music?”

“Of course I do!” The car’s windshield wipers were swishing away mini-cotton balls of snow now.

In the back of his mind, Cliff wondered, “What will she say if I ask her to marry me?”

As we approached the archway between Rheems and Mount Joy, I exclaimed, “The road hasn’t been plowed any farther. We’re at a standstill!” We had come to a crossroads.

Then he said, “If you thought it was God’s will, would you marry me?”

Quickly I responded, “Of course I would.” But in an instant I recognized this as a marriage proposal encased in a tricky question, a snowy fleece.

“Well, then, will you marry me?”

With a “Yes,” the camera dissolved into hugs and kisses.

And yes, the little black book has been destroyed long ago.

Vintage Cut-out Card, Cliff Collection
Vintage Cut-out Card, Cliff Collection


Is there a comparison shopper in your family? Are you such a shopper?

You are invited to share your marriage proposal story here too.




Coming next: My Day of Change @ a Middle School


52 thoughts on “Comparison Shopper Finds His Valentine

  1. Oh my goodness, Marian! What a sweet, Valentine’s story. I would say you and Cliff are both lucky–you each found and secured a great “catch.” Cliff’s “little black book”–so funny! (Are you missing a link where it says, “LINK”?) I went back and read the bathrobe post. It reminded me of my younger daughter living in a house with her two male housemates, and they didn’t want to turn on the heat because they didn’t want to pay for it. They all sat huddled together with blankets. 🙂

    I remember calling my sister right away from the dorm pay phone in the hallway after my now husband proposed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Merril, you rise and shine early and must march right over to your computer. Thanks for catching the missing link, which I have since added.

      Using the dorm pay phone reminds of how technology has advanced. We’d simply grab our cellphones now.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a beautiful love story! I really enjoyed reading about how you met, Cliff’s meticulous search for a wife and how committed you were. I’m afraid my own husband wasn’t quite so choosy and simply asked me if I could cook on our first date and, as you can imagine, I passed the test with flying colours! Happy Valentine’s Day to you both! 💖💖💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love this! As you know if you equate food with love, food is love made edible, which you and your husband must have sensed back then. I believe other husbands may have a similar, if unspoken, criteria. I assume you enjoying cooking on your travels now. Thanks for sharing the beginning of your love story. Every tale of love is unique.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great way to introduce a proposal story, Marian. I think Jane Austen understood the idea of comparison shopping before marriage very well. If we’re honest, I think most of us did a little of that. I told our proposal story here:

    Hope Cliff finds a car solution that’s as good as the wife who has loved him all these years. Of course, no mere car can be that good!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember reading that sweet proposal story, and I hope other readers will click on your link and enjoy more romance. You and Stuart are quite a love match too.

      Yes, the car is purring along now, and Cliff is on his way to perform at a Valentine banquet in Georgia this evening.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is such a wonderful story. I am the comparison shopper in our family so I can relate to your husbands method of getting the best deal. He certainly got the best deal when he got you! Since I had been married before, I did some comparison before I married my hubby 39 years ago. Happy Valentine´s day!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a well honed story for sure, Marian. Telling details with great words. As my husband and I had the TV on this morning as he got ready for work, yet another commercial for a Match dating site or such came on, and he commented, “I’m so glad I don’t [or didn’t] have to do that to find you.” Even though he is a big comparison shopper and researcher on most things! I love Cliff’s annotated little black book. Walks like a duck.

    I told the story of how we met (but not the proposal), here:

    Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Cliff whenever you celebrate!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I read that! (I read all of your posts, Melodie.) What stands out especially are the skating scenes I guess because they are in motion. 😉 I’m happy you included the link because I got to read your story again and I found a link to a PA Dutch dictionary, a lucky find for sprinkling such words into my posts/memoir writing. Also, I hope others will read your love story too.

      Yes, I married an Englisher too, who turned out actually to be a German boy (Mother’s name Koethe) though not PA Dutch.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Marian, I loved your story! I too am married to a comparison shopper, but now it’s groceries instead of girls! Our proposal story (49 years ago) is too long to share here, but it’s quite a tale! Thanks for getting me reminiscing about it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, I see you are a long-married too, Elfrieda. I’m glad this post got you to reminisce, but you sure whetted our appetites for the tale of your proposal. Happy Valentine’s Day!


    1. Methodical way indeed! It’s ironic that Cliff, an artist in some areas of his life does what is counter-intuitive to most creative types – keeping lists, making notes. Thank you for noticing: Happy Valentine’s Day!


  7. Marian, what a sweet engagement story! You had me hooked at “car” and “comparison shopper.” Bob is both. However, I don’t know if he had a little black book back then. You see there was a wife before me, and Bob was already nine years older than me when we married. Lots of time and space between his other girlfriends and me. Still, the night he said, “Would you be interested in moving to California?” still rings in my ears and heart after all this time.

    Thanks for sharing your story with us, and rejuvenating some old, old memories!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m smiling as I write this because I believe that both of our husbands’ proposals were asked rather “at a slant.” Cliff’s was couched in terms of God’s will and Bob’s with a geographical twist – ha ha!


  8. What a wonderful post.How sweet it is to look back at how you and Cliff met and married and to still be just as in love as alway. It pains me that this generation are losing the beauty of working out our problems to make a healthy marriage
    I love my husband. It was God who revealed to me that he was me husband. I was shocked because at that time in my life I wanted nothing to do with Spanish men. Much more one who had no money. Praise God that he knew better than I and that I listened to his leading. Looking back all my suitors with high positions and a lot of money would have never withstood all that my husband did nor love my children and grandchildren as he does. My husband is a great husband father and grandfather. I am so blessed to have him 28 years and many more. It’s funny that when he proposed I told him to think about what he is asking me. I accepting this you no longer have friends we are your friends what’s mine I don’t share and I’m going to be a widow before I’m divorced. He came back and told me, I thought about it and I’m sure I want to marry you with all your crazy conditions. Were still very in love and we’re each other’s best friend. Happy Valentine’s to you and Cliff hope you share a great day. Pablo and I have a date with all of our children and their spouses no children. Enjoy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your love story is very compelling, and Pablo is one persistent guy, not easily detracted by your “crazy” conditions. I am happy to hear that you have an inter-generational Valentine celebration coming up – enjoy!


  9. Thanks for sharing your beautiful story about finding your mate Marian. It’s beautiful to look back sometimes and reiterate the little things that initiated the steps in our relationships. Yours was wonderful. Lol, mine was a rollercoaster, no comparison shopping; we’d both done enough of that before we met. I think I may have to write a book about mine someday; not in the immediate future though. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. THAT…is the most romantic story
    Eva . You ‘re right Marian its
    Like a
    Mini movie . Unfortunately we are struggling with Internet at mo. When we are back on line properly I
    Will tell you a little of our story


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Cliff the Quirky, another way to describe his process of wife seeking. I’m guessing you and Jim have an extraordinary story as well. Thanks for noticing the details in my tale and taking time to stop by “plain and fancy” again, Marylin.


  11. Oh dear, Marion. And I dissolved in tears. Vic proposed to me on Christmas Eve in 1967. Was it the same year as your proposal or was yours in 1966? Vic was not a comparison shopper, but it took him a year to commit. Once he decided, there was the surprise proposal and no looking back.

    You’ve painted your inner and outer masculine love Cliff with tender beauty–funny, careful, and wise. I love his style. And what happened to your car?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tears are good, tearing up and/or crying – either is a good release as I am discovering writing about Mother in memoir. I’m glad this post touched you and invited you to reminisce about Vic’s proposal. Have you written about it and I missed it – or (worse) maybe I read it and can’t remember. Cliff proposed in December 1966 and we married in August of the next year.

      About the car? I don’t know much car-speak, but I think it involved coils above the valves. And dollars, lots of dollars!


  12. What a beautiful engagement story. Cliff is one smart man. He wound up with the loveliest lady. Happy Valentine’s Day to you both. ❤

    The comparison shoppers in our family are my husband, Dave, and my eldest daughter, Danielle. I'm often an impulse buyer which definitely is not a good thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Kathy, as long as the electrons and pixels hold together on this blog, the party never stops here, so you aren’t late for anything. I agree, Cliff is a smart man but he was a little slow on the uptake in this case. You are always welcome, and I never close the comments here.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. What a beautiful story. My marriage proposal was a non event. We’d been living together for a while and one day just said ‘I supposed we should get married.’ I always say he said it, he always says I did. In the end it doesn’t matter because we’ve been together ever since and we’d both known we would marry eventually it was the when we didn’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

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