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Budding Romance on a Budget

As Told by : Gene, age 45

Lisa and I first met at Calhoun's on the River, a favorite Knoxville bar/eatery, in August 1993. My dad knew Lisa’s mom and set up our meeting with the hopes that we would have a love connection. We hit it off pretty well at first, but then I said something that led her to believe that I was a snob so it looked like that first encounter might not lead to anything else in terms of romance or even another date.

I decided to ask her out again and she agreed to go to dinner with me. We chose to go to a Mexican eatery called Mexicali Rose. I picked Lisa up at her apartment and soon discovered that I had no money. When we stopped at the bank, the ATM was out of service. Lisa, who was working three jobs to make ends meet, was also completely cashless. Did I mention that Mexicali Rose did not take credit or debit cards?

Luckily when we got to Mexicali Rose, each of us saw people that we knew. Some of Lisa’s neighbors were there - and under the guise of simply saying “hello”, she somehow managed to net $20. At the same time, I had gone to the table where my friends were dining and asked to borrow $40. We met back at the table with our newfound wealth and proceeded to have a wonderful feast of Mexican food and cerveza. Our quest to pay for our dinner brought us closer together. We began dating and enjoyed a relationship that has lasted 17 years.

Lisa and I are happily married now and will never forget our humble beginnings at our special Mexican eatery. Our only wish is that Mexicali Rose was still in business so we could go and relive that memorable time at our special place. But we are grateful to be able to reflect on a time when we were able to make so much out of so little!


Wright from the Heart

Editorial by : Norma Leigh Wright

Gene and Lisa are a lucky couple – not just because they managed to pay the check for their dinner – but because they bonded early because of something simple, yet memorable, that happened to them. A special time together can be locked away in your memory vault forever. And an evening out at an expensive restaurant is not required in order to be categorized this way. In Gene and Lisa’s case, they weren’t even able to pay for their own meal at the time! Yet, it was an evening that was to be the start of a relationship that would last a lifetime.

Dining together can be the beginning of something wonderful in your lives. You should take these outings in your dating life seriously. You never know when you are living one of those moments that will never be forgotten.