Artist Virginia Hoffman and clinical psychologist M. Jerry Meketon met five years ago through the newspaper personals. Concerned that he was leading "a narrow life" in Englewood following the death of his wife of more than 30 years, Jerry Meketon scripted the ad as medicine. He received 13 responses. Hoffman was mystery date No. 9.
Married once before, she had been living solo more than a decade and was fine with that. "But it had been three years since I dated anyone, and there wasn't anyone I knew whom I wanted to know better," she says. So she answered the ad.
The artist recalls their initial encounter: "He came into my Sarasota studio to pick me up for lunch wearing a Cuban shirt and his naval captain's hat and he didn't say much, just looked around a lot." But, she adds, "When he did talk, I liked him. What convinced me was my Australian shepherd, Girlie. She's a one-woman dog and hates men. But she was all over Jerry."
Although he, too, was impressed with Hoffman, the fair-minded scientist went out with the other four women on his list before calling her for a second date.
The two enjoy camping, and each has a degree in fine arts from Ringling School of Art and Design (Jerry has five degrees). They dated for two years before Jerry proposed and Virginia accepted. Why marry? He is 70, she is 47; and there was no family pressure to formalize their union.
"It sounds corny," says the bride, "but for the first time in my life I feel there is someone who truly loves me. And it's a selfless love. The best part of our relationship is just being at home together." The psychologist says, "Virginia awakened me to making plans again. She forced me to be robust and active. I love her honesty and her energy. I find her enormously attractive, and her dog is crazy about me. I've promised her at least 20 exciting years."
Jerry included in their marriage contract their resolve to respect their differences. Jerry is Jewish, Virginia is drawn to Buddhism. He loves Russian plays and Native American artifacts. She prefers action movies and funky '50s furniture. She makes quick decisions; he says he ponders all sides of a problem "until there's a whole new problem."
Their candlelight wedding ceremony at the Radisson Lido Beach Resort on April 28 was performed by Rabbi Barbara Aiello. Virginia and Jerry were wrapped in a traditional prayer shawl, but the wedding march was played by a five-piece Middle Eastern band led by someone named Tajha and female guests were imprinted with a bindi-that Hindu forehead spot of color-carefully matched to their dress. The bride's gown, from The Galleria in Boca Grande, was Bandhej tie-dye silk embellished with silver and gold embroidery. The groom wore a simple gray suit and new shoes. The reception featured belly dancing and Greek folk dancing (the bride is of Greek descent). Across town, Girlie curled up on a geometric rug the couple bought recently in Tucson and patiently waited for the two beings she loves best.