Couple of 25 Years Made Love Connection over Feline Infatuation in Exponent Purr-sonal Ad

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It was love at first — meow?

For anyone else, a personal ad depicting himself as a cat rather than a human being would probably be a turnoff, but it was meant to be for Mike and Anne Ginsberg.

Mike placed a personal dating ad in the Jewish Exponent’s classifieds section in 1990 — from the perspective of his cat, Otis.

He was seeing someone at the time — who was not Jewish — but knew it was going nowhere, so he thought, “Well, I can put it in the Exponent and she’ll never see it.”

The $87 ad led with “SNC: Single Neutered Cat.”

The Ginsbergs kept an original copy of the classifieds ad that Mike posted in 1990. | Photos provided

“She was afraid of my parents’ miniature poodle,” he recalled. So when it came between choosing her or Otis, it was an easy decision.

The ad was a hit.

“I just thought it was a creative way to stand out,” he said.

Anne’s ex hated her cat, too, so Mike seemed like a claw-some catch.

“I thought, ‘OK, I have to meet the guy that wrote this,’” she said. She responded to the ad on theme: “I’m a single female cat and I’m sick of having my person come home after yet another blind date from hell and tell me that there are no nice Jewish guys out there, so prove her wrong!”

Mike felt indifferent about most of the inquiries he received, but decided to give it one last shot. On the final day he could check his voicemail responses, there was a message left only 10 minutes prior. It was Anne.

Their first date was the following day, Dec. 29, where he took Anne to see a movie at the Ritz on Walnut Street.

In his signature mullet and two earrings — the look has since faded, fortunately — Mike drove up with his flesh-toned Ford Escort, decorated with Grateful Dead stickers. He didn’t think he stood a chance; he thought Anne was too sophisticated for him.

“His hair was longer than mine at the time,” she laughed, “wearing more earrings than I was.”

With nothing to lose in Mike’s mind, all the anxiety of dating went out the window. They held hands on the walk from a bar to the Ritz, and when Mike later met Anne’s cat, grinning down at it, Anne checked out his “cute” smile.

“I was shocked that we were connecting,” Mike said. A couple weeks later, he threw away a box of roughly 115 letter responses to the ad (unknown to Anne until 25 years later).

But their connection shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, since the two had actually met three years prior at a Halloween party.

A few beers in waiting for his friends to show up, Mike chatted with Anne, cloaked in a witch’s hat, but just didn’t seem to “click.”

When his co-worker asked Mike where he wanted to sit at the party, he said, “As far away from that witch as possible.” It didn’t help that she happened to also have a cackling laugh.

Fast forward to their second date at a Grateful Dead cover band concert.

“She doesn’t have to love them, but she can’t hate them,” said Mike, a huge Dead fan. The couple had a good time, and have since seen the real band 12 times and danced to “If I Had the World to Give” at their wedding.

They fit into each other’s lives seamlessly, meshing with each other’s friends and families like they’ve been there all along.

They got engaged on the anniversary of that first date, and married Sept. 6, 1992 at Congregation Kesher Israel. Mike’s father blew up that Exponent ad where it all began as the cover for their wedding guest book.

Mike and Anne Ginsberg

They resided in Queen Village until 2011 with daughter Maddie, who is now settled in Nashville.

They’ve been together through everything: new jobs, synagogue life, travel, a lot of moves, the loss of parents, the birth of their daughter (also announced in the Exponent).

“It takes a close relationship,” Mike said of the loss of both his parents within a short time. “You’re dealing with something that you don’t want to deal with, but it’s a part of life. I can’t imagine having that and not having your best friend, who happens to be your wife, get through that [with you].”

“You need to know that you can lean on each other,” Anne added.

After 25 years of marriage, the jubilant and ever-laughing couple said a lot of love, tolerance and humor has kept them going.

It also helps that they’re not joined at the hip (though it may sound like they are). They enjoy separate activities with friends, but come back and share it with each other.

“We don’t have to be with each other 24/7,” Mike said, which adds to a healthy relationship.

“I’ve known some couples that say, ‘Oh, we never fight. We do everything together. We like all the same things.’ And I think to myself, ‘How boring is that!’” Anne exclaimed.

The family continued to grow with each new pet, too, with subtle persuasion by Mike and Maddie. They wore down Anne with Oliver the pug, one of six in a litter.

“The only thing cuter than one pug puppy is six pug puppies,” she said adoringly, so they adopted the one to join their three cats.

Mike and Anne Ginsberg with daughter Maddie.

Expanding their musicality beyond the Dead, the pair later discovered a mutual love of opera after a random splurge subscription to The Met. They’ve met tenors Luciano Pavarotti and Plácido Domingo, as well as soprano Denyce Graves of Carmen notoriety, who Maddie — full name Madeline Denyce Garcia (after Anne’s old roommate, not the Dead’s Jerry) Ginsberg — is named after.

They don’t always agree on music, however. (AC/DC without earplugs didn’t sit well with Anne.)

But when Metallica came to the Mann Center one season, Anne told Mike “the only way I’m going to go with you” is if he also bought tickets to the ballet.

“I thought, he’ll never agree to this,” she laughed. But Mike showed up to her workplace with an envelope with four tickets: two for the ballet, two for Metallica. “Well, I guess I gotta go now!”

Though he got rid of his rocker demeanor, Mike has since added a handful of tattoos to his look after his 40th birthday, something he never thought he’d do.

Maddie, now a 17-year-old high school senior, plans to get a matching one with her father — most likely an infinity symbol with three hearts — once she turns 18.

All of their different interests keep the family grounded.

“My dad used to say to me, ‘How can anyone not get high on life?’” Mike said. It may be a corny connotation, but he believes in the statement. “Watching [Anne and Maddie] together, even if they’re just sitting on the sofa hanging out, that’s the most important thing in the world.”

Although they’ve grown together the past 25 years, Mike said he doesn’t feel any older — and grateful they met each other when they did rather than put up with the anxiety-producing dating app era of today.

“We’ve been married five years and we have 20 years of experience on top of it,” he joked.

“Sometimes I look at him and it’s like we just got married, and sometimes I look at him and think it’s been 250 years,” Anne laughed. “[But] when it’s the right person, you will know.”

Sometimes, that right person is a cat.

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