In the movies, great romances never revolve around magic markers and a bunny suit. Listen to lovebirds Tracy and Alon for a few minutes and you’ll wonder why not. Their story is a reminder to never give up, because one day love may literally show up in your inbox. Spark Networks’ President Greg Liberman chats with the happy couple about meeting on JDate (she found him!), a very unusual marriage proposal, and those markers.
GREG LIBERMAN: Tell us how everything started.
ALON: It was like pink lilies, daffodils and pixie dust. (laughs)
She contacted me. It’s usually the other way around. I was like, ‘Oh, that’s a keeper. She’s already into me!’
TRACY: It was my first search, and my first email. I think I’d emailed like one other person. Anyway, a few [profiles] came up, and when I read his, I thought it was really funny. His sarcasm caught my eye. Though I couldn’t really tell from the pictures exactly what he looked like…
ALON: I had a very artsy picture with only half my face. It was black and white, and I’d colored my eye green. It was weird. I changed the [essays] quite often, though. I remember one I wrote as a job description. Like I wanted someone to fill a position for me. You know, good health benefits, that kind of thing…
TRACY: Oh. That’s way contrived. That’s not the one I saw.
ALON: Yeah, I was reaching on that one.
TRACY: I’m glad you changed it. No, he mentioned magic markers in [his profile] and being a kindergarten teacher, I have a very strong feeling on how markers give you immediate gratification. So I wrote [him an email] about that.
ALON: She clearly got me – that was very cool. Another thing is that she contacted me. It’s usually the other way around. So as soon as that happened, I was like, “Oh, that’s a keeper. She’s already into me!” It’s funny, the week I met her I was having good luck, in terms of meeting people on JDate. I literally went on three dates that week. It was weird timing, because I was meeting all these people, but as soon as [Tracy] came along, I was finished.
TRACY: He wrote back, asked me for my phone number. We met that day or the next day.
ALON: I do remember one thing about first meeting her. I was sitting outside Urth Café, and it was raining. I spotted her first. Immediately I was extremely attracted to her. She didn’t see me yet and I was watching her for a good 20 minutes. No, I’m kidding. But it was 20, 30 seconds of being really impressed.
TRACY: Really? You never told me that… When I saw him, I was like, “Wow!” Instantly attracted.
GREG: You thought, “Wow, his face is in color and he doesn’t have a green eye.”
TRACY: (Laughs) He has a normal face!
ALON: But as you know, going out on numerous dates, the picture doesn’t always match the person you actually meet.
GREG: I’ve heard that story before.
ALON: Blonde hair turns into brunette… Five foot seven turns into four foot three…
TRACY: But yeah, the rest is history. The phone numbers went immediately into the cell phones. There were no games, he called me every day, we saw each other almost every day.
ALON: It was very smooth.
TRACY: There was no waiting a day, or not saying how much we liked each other.
ALON: We met less than a week before New Year’s and we were together for New Year’s Eve. December of ‘04.
TRACY: We went on a hike on New Year’s Day.
ALON: I think it was El Nino that year because it was raining and raining and raining. The creeks were literally rivers. I was being a true gentleman and picking her up over every river. Getting completely soaked. But she was perfectly dry, being carried on my shoulders.
TRACY: And everyone we passed were like, “That’s a good way to do it!”
ALON: A week or two later we went off JDate… We had the boyfriend/girlfriend discussion. This has been the easiest relationship I’ve ever been in. It just clicked. She moved in after six months. That’s pretty quick. I think she moved in to be closer to school. It had nothing to do with me.
TRACY: It’s true. The laundry machine downstairs…
ALON: We know why you moved in: parking spot, more closet space…
TRACY: I can’t lie. (laughter) No, I’d lived with a boyfriend before, and I was like, “I’m not living with anyone ever again until I’m engaged.”
So I went to the costume store and found the most ostentatious and ridiculous costume I could find, which was a bunny costume. And I showed up at her school…
ALON: I said the same thing.
TRACY: But then, I really wanted to. I was like, “Can I change that rule?” But my parents weren’t thrilled about it.
GREG: I’m sure they were happier with the engagement. How did that transpire?
ALON: Basically, we were going to leave for Israel at the beginning of June. And I think she kind of sensed it…
TRACY: I did!
ALON: So what I decided was, “well, I’m going to beat her to the punch and totally surprise her.” She told me there was going to be a sports event at the school, and I thought, what better way to do it than in front of all those kids?
So I went to the costume store and found the most ostentatious and ridiculous costume I could find, which was a bunny costume. And I showed up at her school. The principal was in on it, and I think a couple of the teachers also knew about it. So I’m standing in the back of the auditorium and I could hear the kids screaming about something else – they’re giving out awards. And I’m thinking, “oh man, what do I do?” Because all these kids are screaming – there were like 400 kids in there. I didn’t realize there were going to be so many! I’m having second thoughts at this point. But [the principal] introduces me and I walk in… Tracy thought she was going to get some “best teacher” award.
TRACY: I was like, “please don’t be me!” And when the bunny came out, I was not even looking at him.
ALON: I gave her a little crown first, to throw her off, so she’d think that was the prize.
TRACY: And I was thinking, okay, this is the gym teacher [dressed up], or someone.
ALON: I pulled out the box. It’s a very distinct box, you couldn’t mistake it for anything else. But she STILL didn’t know what was going on.
TRACY: I didn’t associate it with jewelry! It was just so out of the realm of possibility… He was at work, [supposedly] so there was no way he was there with the ring. All day I’d been talking about how we were leaving for Israel that night, and how maybe I’d come back engaged.
ALON: It was very last minute, but Nadine the principal’s [intro was] perfect, and it really worked out. And [Tracy’s] reaction was priceless, so it made it all worth it.
TRACY: In the split second when I opened it, to see the ring I was like “Oh my G-d,” but I didn’t realize it was him yet, in the bunny costume. I don’t know what I thought. The kids were so funny after that, some of them were confused, some totally got it. The little kids had no idea. “My Mom has a ring like that. Are you married now?”
ALON: I knew the ring she wanted because she pointed it out in a magazine. But I didn’t know her ring size. So I took her over to Tiffany and got her sized. But I was nonchalant about it, and she got really mad at me when I dropped it after that.
TRACY: I’ve never put any pressure on him, but at one point I was like, “What’s going on?”
ALON: I’d bought the ring, but obviously I didn’t want to let her in on it. So it was very uncomfortable, because I knew it and she didn’t know. It got really hard to keep the secret for that long. It literally took two months to do it. It was fun though.
GREG: Any advice for the current and future generations of JDaters?
ALON: It’s funny, you’re on JDate for a long time and you get jaded. Then all it takes is one, and you’re set. JDate becomes the best thing in the whole world. It makes it all good.
TRACY: It’s almost an addiction for a single person, because you have a bad date and you’re like “I’m not doing it ever again!”
ALON: And the next day, you’re right back on there again.
TRACY: “Let me just see, maybe there’s someone new…” You have to be patient. It’s a numbers game – just keep doing JDate and eventually you’ll find the right person. The percentages [are in your favor].