The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

August 6, 2013

Burned by a search for an old flame

By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News & Eagle

— I knew it couldn’t last.

After 38 years of marriage, my bride has finally tired of my nonsense.

At least that was the message I got the other day when she asked me to do an Internet search for her old boyfriend.

OK, perhaps old boyfriend is an incorrect characterization of their one-time relationship. This was apparently a fellow on whom she once had a crush.

And it’s not as if this fling occurred in the recent past. This dates back to her school days, grade school.

I immediately started figuring out how much of my stuff I could cram into a suitcase.

I could see where this was going. We would track him down online, there would be an exchange of emails, then perhaps phone calls, and the next thing you know, I would find myself walking down the street dragging two cat carriers, my suitcase and my golf clubs, cast out like yesterday’s newspaper.

I would spend my days sitting on a street corner, holding a sign reading, “Homeless because my wife reconnected with an old grade school crush on the Internet. Of course, I helped her, so what does that make me?” No, too long. How about this: “Will punctuate for food.”

If that didn’t work, I would teach the cats tricks, which they would do for passersby, who would be charmed by their precious antics and give us money. Or, more likely, the cats would simply stare balefully at me while I did tricks for passersby, who would be repulsed by my pathetic antics and would walk past without a second glance, or without tossing so much as a farthing into my upturned hat.

She said I was being silly, that she was merely curious about what had happened to this long-ago unrequited love of hers. I asked her how she would like it if I looked up my old girlfriend online. She said she would be curious about what she looks like. I was quickly running out of arguments.

I could have refused. My bride’s computer skills are somewhat lacking (OK, she doesn’t even know how to turn the thing on), so the only way she was going to find this long-ago lunch room Lothario was with my help. I could have lied to her, telling her this guy had turned to a life of crime, or worse, a life in politics.

But she batted those big eyes at me and asked so sweetly, I couldn’t say no.

So we looked. One search turned up a guy with the same name and about the right age in Salem, Ore. We even got his address. But when we tried to delve further into this guy’s past, the website asked for money. Forget that. My bride may be curious about her elementary school love interest, but she is likewise frugal.

Then we found a guy with the same name on Facebook, but this fellow was too young. Thank goodness.

The Daily Mail website says looking up an old flame online is more common than you think, with roughly half of those responding to a survey admitting they have logged on to look for a former sweetheart.

One in four say they are searching for a childhood flame, one in five for an old boyfriend or girlfriend and one in 10 for a former partner.

Thirty-seven percent say they were conducting the search because they wanted to see what their old flame was doing these days. Uh-huh. That’s what they all say.

Only 4 percent of respondents say they hoped to contact former loves to re-stoke the fires of romance, but 7 percent actually wound up getting back together with an old boyfriend or girlfriend through the Internet.

Then I got to thinking about my grade school days. There were a couple of cute little blondes in my class who would occasionally favor me with a smile. Or perhaps it was a grimace.

At any rate, we didn’t find this recess Romeo, so I am safe, or so I thought. Shortly thereafter, my bride began wondering aloud about the whereabouts of some of her many other grade school admirers.

I have taught the cats one trick: to play dead. OK, technically they are simply asleep, but its a start.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at