Sometimes the people who help you the most are complete strangers; and, sometimes, the only way you can thank them is by posting an ad on the internet and hoping it reaches so far and wide that the person who saved your life with their kindness—and the mystery they left behind—might see it and accept the gratitude. At least, that’s what one man must have been thinking when he posted a beautiful ad for a woman in a teal ballgown with whom he’d shared pecan pie and confessions with on New Year’s Eve in 1972.
Some people may, of course, find this ad annoying, and that’s understandable. It’s a little cloying and a little too romanticized. And no, it won’t, as Wired suggests, win a Pulitzer. But even if this anonymous vet doesn’t find the woman he’s looking for—the woman who he’d looked for for an entire year after their meeting—he’s probably brightened many people’s days with his story of hope.
The full text of the ad is below, but you can also check out the original on Craigslist, where it’s sure to be archived forever in their “best of” section. Let’s hope this guy finds the woman he’s looking for, or at least the closure he seeks.
I met you in the rain on the last day of 1972, the same day I resolved to kill myself.
One week prior, at the behest of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, I’d flown four B-52 sorties over Hanoi. I dropped forty-eight bombs. How many homes I destroyed, how many lives I ended, I’ll never know. But in the eyes of my superiors, I had served my country honorably, and I was thusly discharged with such distinction.
And so on the morning of that New Year’s Eve, I found myself in a barren studio apartment on Beacon and Hereford with a fifth of Tennessee rye and the pang of shame permeating the recesses of my soul. When the bottle was empty, I made for the door and vowed, upon returning, that I would retrieve the Smith & Wesson Model 15 from the closet and give myself the discharge I deserved.
I walked for hours. I looped around the Fenway before snaking back past Symphony Hall and up to Trinity Church. Then I roamed through the Common, scaled the hill with its golden dome, and meandered into that charming labyrinth divided by Hanover Street. By the time I reached the waterfront, a charcoal sky had opened and a drizzle became a shower. That shower soon gave way to a deluge. While the other pedestrians darted for awnings and lobbies, I trudged into the rain. I suppose I thought, or rather hoped, that it might wash away the patina of guilt that had coagulated around my heart. It didn’t, of course, so I started back to the apartment.
And then I saw you.
You’d taken shelter under the balcony of the Old State House. You were wearing a teal ball gown, which appeared to me both regal and ridiculous. Your brown hair was matted to the right side of your face, and a galaxy of freckles dusted your shoulders. I’d never seen anything so beautiful.