First impression didn't last


Jennifer Buettner And Michael Buckley

June 06, 1999|By Joanne E. Morvay | Joanne E. Morvay,Special to the Sun

Jennifer Buettner grew up in Carroll County, but don't get the wrong idea. Westminster isn't the Wild West. And Jennifer definitely wasn't raised as a "country girl."

So when she met Michael Buckley back in October 1996, Jennifer didn't give the chance encounter a second thought. Michael was wearing cowboy boots at the time, and his voice had a slight country twang.

A girlfriend had dragged Jennifer to the Lineboro Volunteer Fire Company's annual "haunted hayride." Michael, a member of the company, was selling raffle tickets.

Michael did talk Jennifer into buying more raffle tickets than she had planned to get, she remembers. But he was engaged at the time. That fact plus his country looks ruled him out for Jennifer.

In May 1997, Michael -- no longer engaged -- remembered the "really nice girl [from the hayride] who seemed to have her act together." So he talked Jennifer's girlfriend into organizing a group of friends -- including Jennifer -- to go dancing in Baltimore.

Michael showed up in his usual cowboy boots. Jennifer, trying to look past them, accepted a dinner date with him for the following evening. In talking about that first outing, Jennifer says, "When he showed up at my house, my dad looked out the window and said, 'He has a pickup truck. He doesn't have a chance.' " She and Michael share a laugh at her recollection.

Dinner didn't go well. Michael was nervous and kept talking about his work as a firefighter/paramedic for Howard County Fire and Rescue -- using lingo and abbreviations that only firefighters understand.

Jennifer just knew she had made a big mistake in agreeing to go out with him. Fortunately, she had to leave immediately on a long business trip. (She worked then as an account sales manager for Boyds Collection Ltd., a seller of collectible teddy bears and other items.)

Jennifer knew that the trip would be the perfect way for her to ease out of what Michael appeared to think was a budding relationship.

But a funny thing happened while Jennifer was away. Michael got her hotel numbers and called her every night, no matter where she was, to see how her day had gone and to make sure she had safely returned to her hotel room.

He didn't talk to her about his work. And he never acted like he was checking up on her. In fact, he wasn't, he says. He just liked to know she was OK.

Suddenly, Michael didn't seem so much a "hick" anymore. In fact, his gentle concern, coupled with the fact that he had remembered Jennifer from their brief encounter at the hayride, turned the tide of Jennifer's feelings. She and Michael soon began dating seriously.

In July 1997, Jennifer was promoted to major account sales manager for Boyds. At the end of that month, she and Michael took a trip together -- driving from Skyline Drive in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. When they passed through Gatlinburg, Tenn., with all its romantic wedding chapels, Michael teased Jennifer about stopping to tie the knot. But they both knew by then that when they did marry, they'd do it surrounded by the people who love them.

And so on May 8, Jennifer and Michael, both 26, were married at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in East Baltimore. The ceremony was a fitting tribute to Jenni- fer's family: Her parents, Henry and Mary Jane Buettner, were married at the same church in June 1968, and her grandparents, Margaret Trachta and the late Frank Trachta Sr., were wed there in July 1938.

Jennifer's parents and grandmother, and Michael's parents, James and Doris Buckley of Lineboro, were sitting proudly among the 180 guests at the church.

After a honeymoon trip to England and Ireland, Jennifer and Michael expect to settle into a comfortable routine in Lineboro, where they live just a few doors down from the fire company. The company, by the way, has a new member -- Jennifer.

And Jennifer admits that Michael made a "country girl" out of her long before they were married. On a business trip to Dallas earlier this year, she broke down and bought -- what else? -- her own pair of cowboy boots.

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