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Thursday, May 15, 2003 02:20 pm

“I Saw You”

Fairy tales usually have happy endings, especially the ones involving love at first sight. Cinderella and Snow White both snared their princes with just one look. It would seem only fitting if the following story ends as happily.

To protect this subject's privacy, we'll call our prince "Lance." Readers might know him better as the "Department of Agriculture" man in the "I Saw You" section of the IT Singles Connection. His ad says, "Beautiful, blonde female at vending machine. You had lots of jewelry on. I passed you in the hallway in a camouflage green coat. Would love to hear from you."

Lance, 37, works for the school district and is in the National Guard. During a trip to the Department of Agriculture, he encountered the woman in a classic instance of love at first sight.

"She was very attractive," he says. "I said 'Hi' and that was it. I didn't know what else to say--it just all happened so quick."

Replaying the moment in his mind, he wondered whether he could have done something differently. The woman began to haunt his thoughts, and Lance decided he had to try to speak with her again. He was skimming through a copy of Illinois Times when he came upon the "I Saw You" section of the personal ads.

"It was a long shot," Lance says. "I've never tried anything like this before, but it was at least a possibility."

Each year thousands of people place personal ads in this paper, but only about 50 folks try their luck in the "I Saw You" section. TelePublishing, a company in Boston that oversees the personals in both Illinois Times and TheState Journal-Register, keeps the identity of advertisers confidential. Those wishing to respond have to call a number to leave a message.

Towering more than six feet tall with brown hair and blue eyes, and weighing in at 200 pounds, Lance says he should be considered "a wonderful catch." But with a busy work schedule and weekends consumed by National Guard duty, he's found it difficult to meet that special someone.

"I own my own home, pay taxes, live in a quiet neighborhood, don't use drugs, and rarely drink," Lance says. "I can't believe I'm not married."

No one has answered his ad, but Lance hasn't given up hope. He knows "some things are not meant to be," but with every new issue he hopes the beautiful woman will respond. For now this remains a story of unrequited love. One day before Valentine's, he's still calling on Cupid.

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