As love stories go, this isn't exactly "Romeo and Juliet" or "Casablanca." Not even Rocky and, yo, Adrian. But, then, this is the 1990s so we must make do.
It begins with Mike, 33, a yuppie. And not a fake yuppie, but the genuine article.
He has an MBA and is a certified public accountant. He has a cool city condo, drives a '57 Thunderbird, plays golf at a suburban club and travels the country on business. And as he frankly says about himself: "I'm a good-looking, strapping, 6-4 young guy. The all-American kind of good-looking."
Despite these many qualities, he had a problem with the opposite sex.
"Three years ago, I had a job that kept me zipping around the country so much that I didn't really have time to meet women."
Being an MBA and a CPA, he took the cost-effective and time-efficient approach. He placed this personals ad in a Chicago newspaper:
"Tall, SWCM, condo, MBA, '57 T-Bird." (The "SWCM" means that he is single, white, Catholic and male.)
He received several dozen responses and studied them. "I wanted to be the screener, not the screenee."
And one stood out. It was from Karen, a blond, blue-eyed management consultant, with an MBA from the University of Chicago.
"I was enamored with the MBA from the U. of C.," he says. "I love brilliant women."
He contacted her and the romance of the MBAs began. And despite their hectic schedules, it went on for more than two years.
But then, as Mike tells it, problems arose. Not of his doing, of course.
Part of it was that she didn't like the way he dressed.
"So she bought me all sorts of clothes. She'd dress me up and take me to her fancy parties. I was like her Ken Doll. She'd tell me, 'I want you to look the part of a studmuffin. Do what I say.' I went along with it, even though I didn't like some of the stuff like the $550 leather jacket."
Despite their difference in clothing tastes, the romance continued. And they discussed marriage.
"Yeah, we talked about it, but only in the broadest sense. I mean, I thought it would be the all-time yuppie thing, her and I. But at no time did I ever say, 'Will you marry me?' or buy her a ring or anything like that."
Mike thought they were getting along fine. Then it suddenly ended.
"We didn't really break up. What happened was that I went over to her place to watch a football game. But when I got there, she had left something for me in an envelope in her hallway."
It was a lawsuit. (I told you this was a 1990s love story.)
The suit against Mike had been filed in the Cook County Circuit Court by Karen. It accused Mike of promising to marry Karen, even setting a date, but failing to fulfill the promise.
Here are portions of the suit:
"The plaintiff Karen . . . confident in the promise of the defendant, Mike . . . to marry her, has remained ever since and continued and still is single and unmarried and has been and still hTC is ready and willing to marry the defendant.
". . . Because of the defendant's promise to marry and in anticipation of the marriage, the plaintiff expended certain amounts of money as follows: (a) $2,580 for a wedding dress and wedding hat; (b) $1,490 for weekly counseling sessions; (c) $400 for Catholic marriage annulment fee; (d) $500 for engagement ring deposit."
But that's only part of it. Karen provides meticulous details of all the clothes she bought for Mike, which she insists that he asked her to buy, promising to pay her later.
They included shirts, pants, a robe, a scarf, belts, socks, another robe, more socks, shirts, sweaters and that $550 leather jacket.
And she asked to be compensated for everything she bought for the wedding, for all the duds she bought Mike, and for her pain, misery and suffering.
However, the suit did say that Mike could avoid these costs if he went ahead with the marriage.
But Mike has declined. "No way. I have been to court 32 times, and this thing still isn't resolved. I'm going to wind up with $100,000 in legal fees.
"I mean, can you believe this? She bought her own engagement ring and then she sues me?
"Here I am, an MBA and a CPA. I'm not stupid. But with her, I was an idiot."
Yet, Mike is philosophical.
"Regrets? Yeah, my life would have been more bountiful had I not met her. But later in life, I think I'll appreciate this experience."
These are the times we live in. Somehow I can't imagine Bogart looking up and seeing Ingrid Bergman walking into his gin mill, of all the gin mills in the world, and saying: "You know, I bought your train ticket and waited for you until the train was pulling out. Unless you pay for the ticket, plus interest and damages, you will hear from my attorney."
On the other hand, Mike has said that some day he will appreciate this experience.
What was it Bogie said before Bergman flew away? "We'll always have Paris."
Mike can say: "We'll always have the Circuit Court of Cook County."