On a cold day in April, Linda was stressed at work - she directs summer camp and environmental education and art programs for a youth organization. She never goes out to lunch, but thought leaving the office might break the negative cycle of the day.
In the Plymouth Meeting Cracker Barrel's parking lot, Linda spotted a bright red Corvette parked far, far away from the other cars. That kind of irked Linda, so she parked her light blue Honda CRV right beside it.
Linda's dog Pete, who had an after-work appointment with the vet, had been napping in the car while Linda worked. She figured she'd walk him around the lot before going inside.
That's when the sports car's door opened.
Linda, who might not have been so bold had she realized the Corvette was occupied, prepared for an angry inquiry about her parking job.
But the man who emerged had a different question: "What kind of dog is that?"
David, a retired banker who lived in Phoenixville, was curious about Pete. But he was intrigued by the moxie of this woman in the CRV. "I knew this person may be interesting."
"He's a Vizsla," Linda said. David walked around the parking lot with Linda and Pete, and David synchronized his steps with hers.
"If you're here having lunch by yourself, would you like to sit with me?" he asked.
During lunch, David, who is now 62, showed Linda photos of his grown daughters, Candace and Christina. (He, too, had been married for about 20 years, and also divorced for about 20.) David told her about his 1931 Ford hot rod - the same model that was in American Graffiti.
Linda, who is now 60, told David all about Pete, and her recent completion of her yoga teacher training.
The more David learned about Linda, the more he liked. He suspected the dedication it took to practice yoga would also be applied to a relationship.
After lunch, David walked Linda back to her car. He called her later that day at the office - she had given him her business card - and they made plans to go to Zern's Farmers Market in Gilbertsville.
How does forever sound?
David had planned to propose during a fancy dinner on Valentine's Day 2010, but a snowstorm and terrible road conditions led the couple to cancel their reservations.
Instead, on Easter Sunday, David handed Linda a basket with chocolate, marshmallow Peeps, and a hot-pink plastic egg. "Inside the pink egg was an engagement ring," Linda said.
"I hugged and kissed him, and of course I said yes!" Linda said.
David also got bonus points for proposing on a day that is all about resurrection and new beginnings.
It was so them
"She had 12 bridesmaids who were men," said David. "We had a flower man in a G-string."
David and Linda were married during Gay Bingo, a fund-raiser for AIDS Fund Philly.
After the couple went to Gay Bingo last fall, Linda contacted the organizers of the May event, who were glad to add to the color of the evening with an actual wedding.
Linda and David gave their guests the address of the event on a wedding invitation that looked like a Bingo card. But other than that hint, the couple let everyone figure things out as they unfolded. "When they were handed a bingo dabber and bingo sheets, and took in the atmosphere . . . they were probably in shock, most of them," David said.
"Some looked like deer in the headlights," Linda said, laughing. But they embraced the fun as the night progressed, she said.
Everyone played bingo, with the Bingo Verifying Divas - a group of wild drag queens - whirling around on inline skates to assist.
Intermission was showtime for Linda and David.
They surprised some of their guests with special roles: Linda's niece, Megan, and her best friend, Yolanda, were her matrons of honor. David's sons-in-law, Doug and Trent, were his best men.
Twelve BVDs were bridesmaids in lovely gowns and heels. Other Gay Bingo workers wore T-shirts printed with faux tuxedo jackets and served as groomsmen. "Isn't She Lovely" played as Linda sashayed across the stage in a black-and-white dress, a white and black hat trimmed with sequins and rhinestones, and elbow-length white gloves to meet her husband-to-be, who wore a black tux.
The vows were the standard promises to always love and be faithful. Then things got original again.
As stripper music played, David took off Linda's garter and tossed it. She tossed her bouquet.
"Everyone danced on stage for a few minutes and then went back to bingo," Linda said. "We called the next game and donated a bottle of Dom Pérignon to the winner," said David.
In addition to the couple's 36 wedding guests, about 400 other bingo attendees were present. A wedding buffet was served to the two tables where the couple's guests were seated. Many strangers hugged David and Linda that night. "The groomsmen all wanted to give me kisses," David said. "And they kept saying that my wife had great legs."
Linda and David say getting married at Gay Bingo allowed them to have an outrageously fun wedding while also calling attention to an important cause. "We wanted to make it have some social value," Linda said.
"This is really happening," Linda thought as she made her way to the spot on the stage where the minister and David waited. "I took my deep yogic breath and . . . really savored the beauty and uniqueness of the moment - and the paths that had brought us together."
Linda's walk across the stage was David's favorite moment, too. "I kind of coached her to step it up a little bit, and she looked like a runway model coming down. She really got into it. She was striking a pose with each step!"
A bargain: The location. "We didn't have to rent a hall or provide music or photographers," said David. "We just bought 36 tickets."
The splurge: After camp is closed for the summer, the couple will head to Costa Rica for 10 days of spa treatments, ecotourism, and yoga on the beach. Plus, David wants to go to the area where Jurassic Park was filmed to see if he can find anything left behind.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Todd Albert a coworker of Linda's
The Gershman Y in Philadelphia, during AIDS Fund Philly's Gay Bingo
Cosmic Catering, Philadelphia
Scott Drake for AIDS Fund Philly
Gay Bingo staff
Bebe in the King of Prussia Mall, King of Prussia
J. Davis Printing, Philadelphia