So you’ve tried Tinder, OKCupid, Bumble and a few blind dates. But have you checked the laundry room?
It could happen! We have proof: eight couples who got hitched to the boy or girl next door — in their New York City apartment building.
From a divorced rock star who met his now-wife in the elevator to a pair who found each other while she was taking out the trash, here’s proof that meeting the old-fashioned way still works.
Sharon and Jay Jay
In 1989, when Sharon Gitelle moved to 165 W. 91st St. with her husband and infant daughter, she didn’t pay much attention to the rock star upstairs — Jay Jay French of the band Twisted Sister.
But soon enough, she learned a lot about French, whose birth name — John Segall — was just one letter off from her then-husband’s: John Segal. When fan mail meant for French came to her unit, 5A, she delivered the messages to the guitarist in Apartment 6A. They became friends, as did their respective spouses and children, but romance didn’t blossom right away.
“I wasn’t into Twisted Sister whatsoever,” says Gitelle, now 57 and working on a novel. “I was going to Studio 54. They [Twisted Sister] were yelling, ‘Death to disco!’”
It wasn’t until 2003, in a chance meeting in the elevator, that they realized they had something major in common: Both of their spouses had recently moved out in the midst of ongoing divorces. With friendship in mind, Gitelle then ventured that she and French, now 65, should hang out. They ended up on a dinner date, then several more, and Gitelle soon became a fixture on Twisted Sister tours.
“She had to acclimate herself,” French says. “Here’s this nice, high-end, private school-, college-educated Jewish woman flung into … the biggest death metal festivals in the world.”
French wore a ring from Gitelle inscribed with the words “5A loves 6A,” but the couple didn’t marry, partly because they knew if they did, they’d have to give up one of their rent-regulated apartments.
But that changed in 2012 when the building went condo; the landlord agreed to give them one of the units if they relinquished the other. They did. Now they live together in Apartment 6A, the same unit French’s parents moved into in 1958 and the home of a 7-foot-tall house plant named Evelyn given to French’s mother by his father in 1967.
The pair finally married in 2016, but as French likes to say, “I’ve been sleeping above her since 1989.”
Nicole and Stephen
Nicole Basile, 30, and Stephen Smith, 38, officially met in December 2009 at a holiday party at NYU, where they were both studying at the time
But they didn’t see each other again until several months later, when Basile was looking at an apartment in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
A first-floor unit on Prospect Place was being renovated, so the landlord took her to see a finished second-floor apartment — which Smith and his roommates occupied. They recognized each other right away, they say; Basile says he strongly encouraged her to take the place downstairs.
“He was like, ‘Oh yeah, this building’s great!’ ” recalls Basile.
She and her roommate signed a lease; she and Smith (now teachers at Columbia and Stony Brook, respectively) started dating within a few months. They are now engaged and will be married in March at Brooklyn Winery in Williamsburg.
Marrying a neighbor runs in Basile’s family. Her grandparents, Lucia and Gonzalo Armendariz, 70 and 76, met as teenagers in the same West 13th Street building in Greenwich Village in the early 1960s. A heating pipe ran between their rooms, Lucia recalls.
“I would knock on it with a spoon,” she says. “That meant I had to go to the store to go buy something, or I was going out, and he would run down and we would go together.”
They married in 1963 when Lucia was just 16. Now retired, the Armendarizes once ran the Mexi-Frost food company. The pair lives in Long Island, where they raised four children.
Ashley and Alex
Ashley Kaplan met her now-fiancé, Alex, when she and a roommate were planning a move to the Upper East Side rental he was vacating in late 2013. They exchanged contact information and, a few months later, he sent her an email asking to take her out for a drink — so she could return some of his old mail. The meetup turned into a dinner date, then many more. Kaplan says she never saw it coming.
“I was on Tinder, on Bumble, on all these apps,” she says. “I did not think I was going to meet anyone in person.”
By early 2015, her roommate had moved out and Alex (who asked that his last name be withheld due to the sensitive nature of his profession) returned to the same apartment he’d moved out of two years before.
He proposed on the stoop of the Yorkville building last summer, and now the 27-year-old marketing professional and 33-year-old member of law enforcement are planning an autumn 2018 wedding.
Leigh Anne and Robert
In 1989, Leigh Anne O’Connor decided she’d had it with New York and planned to move to Los Angeles. She bought a plane ticket, lined up a job and found someone to take the room she’d been renting in a Kips Bay building. Then, six weeks before the move, she found herself locked out of her Second Avenue apartment when a neighbor, Robert Leon, walked into the hallway.
“He said, ‘If [your roommate] doesn’t answer the door, you can come crash on my couch,’ “ she recalls. “So, that ended up happening.”
In the weeks that followed, she and Leon — now both 52 — spent nearly every weekend together. On the night of her going-away party, O’Connor found herself wracked with indecision.
“Rob said, ‘Well, what are you doing?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know! I’m a feminist! I can’t just stay,’ ” she says.
But in the end, she decided against LA. By July 1990, she (now a private lactation consultant) and Leon (now a construction executive) had moved in together. They were married in 1993 and eventually moved to Stuy Town — where they raised their three children, ages 12, 17 and 22.
They’re still living happily ever after today.
Janet Rosner Brady, 70, and Thomas Brady, 76
Met in 1966 at 380 Riverside Drive
Laundry really does lead to love. Janet, a retired teacher, and Thomas, a retired economist, first met in the laundry room of their building, then ran into each other again at the garbage chute on a Friday night when Janet’s roommate was out on a date. “He said to me, ‘Why aren’t you out on a date?’ And I said, ‘Nobody asked me.’ So, he asked me,” she said. “We had dinner — and the rest is history.” They married in 1968, raised three children and now live in Massachusetts.
Terri Simon and Eric Levine, both 65
Met in 1979 at 101 W. 12th St.
Levine and Simon rode the same elevator two days in a row, both on their way to work as lawyers. “I said to her, ‘It seems that our biological clocks are synchronized,’ ” says Levine. “It was cheesy!” Simon adds. “And I said, ‘Well, I’m here because of my alarm clock.’ ” Levine liked her sense of humor; they went out to dinner and have been together ever since. The pair has two children and now lives in Westchester.
Matthew Epstein and Lesley Bogdanow, 38 and 40
Met in 2007 at 145 E. 27th St.
On New Year’s Eve, Bogdanow ran into Epstein as she was taking out her trash and he was on the way to the Blue Note Jazz Club to play a late-night show. He invited her to watch and was “really amazed” when she showed up, then stayed to chat past 3 a.m. The ad man and communications professional started dating shortly afterward, married in 2012 and now live in Dallas with two young daughters and a golden retriever puppy.
Brian and Tara O’Connor, 33 and 34
Met in 2006 at 532 E. 83rd St.
Tara, a stay-at-home mom, met Brian, who works in finance, the first night she moved to Manhattan after graduating from college, at a party in their building. They married in 2012 — a replica of the 83rd Street building where they met served as a table decoration — and now live in Long Island with their two boys, ages 2 and 4.
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