Strictly personals 

The following three couples have important things in common: They were all willing to take a chance on someone they’d never met before. And they all discovered that, in no time at all, that stranger would become the most important person in their lives.

Erica and Dan

It wasn’t like Erica Koltonow was looking for a boyfriend, or even a date. Back in September 1997, when she answered Dan Goldsworthy’s ad in the MT — which described him as a long-haired, tattooed rocker — she just figured he sounded like someone fun to hang out with.

So, without even giving a thought as to what might happen if she picked up a stranger and took him out for an evening, the music promoter buzzed by Goldsworthy’s house, took him to a Judas Priest listening party she’d arranged, and then on to the Motor Dolls’ last-ever show. “It’s not a great lesson in safety in the year 2000,” she jokes. “I found his ad, and a page away there are people who want you to beat them with food items.”

Two months later, they were living together. With a tortoise. And seven cats. And a bunch of lizards. Oh, and two kids. “He didn’t mention that in his ad,” laughs Erica. Three years later, Shirley is 8, Josh is 10, Erica, who’s also a travel agent, is 27 and Dan, who owns a construction company, is 33 — and they’re a big, happy family Erica never expected.

“In my life I never thought I’d meet someone through an ad,” she says. “It was so random.” And yet it worked. They had tons in common, especially an interest in Detroit’s music scene (Erica owns the Aural Pleasures record label; Dan is a big fan of local rock).

You might’ve even attended their wedding — on Nov 1, 1998, there was a big costume party at the Magic Stick. The Trash Brats, 60-Second Crush and Buddha Fulla Rhymez all played. Few in the audience realized that earlier that evening, the crazy couple had exchanged vows right there, wearing vampire and werewolf costumes, and that this was the open-to-all reception.

Dan, who’s still the quiet one of the couple, pipes in from the background as Erica gushes about the guy she calls her best friend in the world: “Yeah, that’s exactly what happened.”

Bernice and Judy

Bernice Miechle of Detroit says she placed her personals ad in the Metro Times in May 1990, because “the Metro Times seemed like a popular paper, and I often saw gay ads there, which I never saw in other papers.”

One of the responses she received was from Judy Bedwell, who had never answered an ad before.

When they talked on the phone, they clicked, but Bedwell was worried that Miechle might be the same Bernice she had had a fling with in high school.

“I was nervous,” says Bedwell, 51. “I think we both were.” When they met — on a hot June afternoon in the parking lot of a Big Boy — she discovered her fears were unfounded. Then they played pool, ate dinner in Greektown, and hit it off well enough that, three months later, they decided to move in together.

Ten years later, Miechle, 49, a professional pet-sitter, and Bedwell, a secretary, are still together, and say they still read the romance ads once in a while, just for fun. But their relationship remains strong.

“It’s a lot of work,” says Miechle. “You go through so many problems, things that put pressure on the relationship, you have to really care.”

Vic and Cindy

Vic Doucette had been getting lots of responses to the personals ad he placed back in 1989. But it was the one he responded to — placed by Detroiter Cindy Briggs — that found him sitting at Ferndale’s Bangkok Express and staring in awe at her skillful chopstick use. Briggs, a computer programmer/analyst, had mentioned in her ad that she liked spicy cuisine and baseball, among other things, so the two immediately had something in common to discuss.

Even though they hit it off, they kept it to a short meeting — Doucette had learned the hard way not to plan a lengthy visit with a blind date. In any case, they went out again, and again — and three months later, they moved in together.

Finding someone through a personals ad made sense to Doucette, who was working three jobs and just wasn’t getting many chances to meet women.

“I have cerebral palsy,” he explains. “I walk funny, I’m not graceful, I’ve never been good on the dance floor.” He wondered if his disability had anything to do with his difficulty getting dates, and so he put it up front in his ad. “If it bothers ya, you’re not going to write me,” he reasons. “It was a way to broach a difficult subject without causing myself a lot of pain.”

Doucette’s honesty was what gave Briggs the courage to write him back. “I was nervous because I was a fat woman, and I had issues around that,” she recalls. “Here’s somebody who’s experienced prejudice firsthand — I thought maybe he’d be more open-minded.”

They just celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary. Incidentally, Doucette is the MT’s copy editor — a job advertised in — what else? — the Metro Times.

Alisa Gordaneer is MT features editor. E-mail

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