By STEVE BELL
For those searching for a soul mate, the how-to website WikiHow offers an 11-step plan that could be of help. It tells the lovelorn about fruitful places to look for a mate and instructs them to do things such as make a list of the traits sought in a partner and to “start looking.”
But here at The New York Times, we have a better plan, and ours has only two steps:
1. Put on a sweater emblazoned with a cat wearing a Santa hat on the front. (Any kind of cat — calico, Siamese, Abyssinian — will do.)
2. Stand next to an elevator. (It wouldn’t hurt to put on some perfume or cologne; this plan needs all the help it can get.)
Then, boom! Mr. or Ms. Right will pop up.
We can’t swear by this, because our data is admittedly scant. But in two wedding stories published in The Times this year, Santa-hat-wearing-cat sweaters have led to love. And in three others, sightings in elevators led to marriages.
O.K., we get it that the ugly Christmas sweater craze may have run its course. But you can’t argue with success, which is why these cat-and-elevator couples lead the list of the most unusual how-we-met stories for 2016. The catless among us fared just as well, however. Here is our list:
Mr. Ponder wore his Christmas cat sweater for the picture he posted on his Tinder profile in summer 2014, and Ms. Landy was intrigued by his sense of humor.
Mr. Rader and Ms. Callaway met in December 2013 in Nashville when Mr. Rader and a friend (who was wearing a Christmas cat sweater) were hailing the same cab as Ms. Callaway (who was also wearing a cat sweater) and her friend.
“Meow,” Mr. Rader’s friend said to Ms. Callaway, but she wound up with Mr. Rader.
Asked recently to explain the romantic allure of Santa-cat sweaters, Mr. Rader said a number of factors came into play.
“But No. 1 would be the actual girl wearing the sweater,” he said. “In addition to her, it’s a celebration of the most beautiful and wonderful time of the year, and to have a cat wearing a Santa hat is just something that is friendly and welcoming and cheerful all wrapped into one.”
Which Floor for Love? Our elevator couples are Alyssa Carbone and Jeremy Kees, who married March 19 in Montclair, N.J.; Nadia Gaya and Timothy Martin, who were married April 30 in Manhattan; and Kaci Lindhorst and Adam Sokoloff, who were married June 18 in New York.
Ms. Carbone remembered seeing her future husband in the elevator of their Philadelphia apartment building.“He looked charming, handsome and dapper in his nice suits,” she said. Then the two got the chance to chat when an early-morning fire alarm rousted the pair and their fellow tenants and temporarily left them outside.
Ms. Gaya recalls hitting the button on her elevator in her Brooklyn apartment building and out walked Mr. Martin. “I said to myself, ‘That’s the hottest guy I’ve ever seen.’” They were introduced by the woman showing an apartment to Mr. Martin, but she did not get his last name. A few months later, they again met at the elevator and began to get better acquainted.
Ms. Lindhorst did not actually spot Mr. Sokoloff in the elevator. But her roommate, a natural matchmaker, had. Ms. Lindhorst, with encouragement from her roommate, then sent a Facebook friend request to “the really attractive guy” she saw there.
What is so enticing about an elevator? Jodi Hynes, communications manager of Otis Americas, the elevator company, has given it some thought. “You are instantly put into an intimate setting from the moment you step inside, then the doors close and you can’t help but make eye contact and start talking to the person standing next to you,” Ms. Hynes said. “Where that leads may not always be what you intend, but it forces you into an otherwise unexpected conversation.”
Loving the Wait Anh Tu Dang and Josh Mankiewicz, who were married May 16 in Los Angeles, met while engaged in the most frustrating of activities: waiting in an airport security line. When Mr. Mankiewicz saw Ms. Dang in 2008 at Los Angeles International Airport, suddenly the wait didn’t seem so long.
“Standing ahead of me was this stunning woman,” Mr. Mankiewicz, a correspondent for “Dateline NBC,” recalled. “I was staring at her. She didn’t notice. Finally we started talking. Actually, I started talking and she responded.”
A Better View Kelly McKanna and David Hirsch, who were married July 30 in Palo Alto, Calif., had just met and had been chatting briefly at a San Francisco music festival in 2011 when he offered her a perch on his shoulders for a better view.She told him he should sit on hers instead. He hopped on, her back didn’t crumple, and love ensued.
The Man Without a Face After Meegan Brooks connected online with Michael Kimiecik, they communicated for weeks on end without the benefit of seeing his face. His profile photo was sort of obscure. At one point, she outright asked him to post a more recent photo, and he sent her a photo of himself wearing ski goggles and a hood that covered most of his face. She finally got the chance to see him up close when she flew to Michigan, and he picked her up at the airport — without anything covering his face. “He was incredibly handsome,” she said. They were married Aug. 6 in Carmel Valley, Calif.
Love at First Shout The first time Akino Brown heard Dr. Dionne Hoskins, she was giving him a good talking-to at a Big Lots store in Savannah, Ga. Sparks flew — but not good ones — when she overheard Mr. Brown and a co-worker discussing the firing of another employee. Incensed by this breach in protocol, Dr. Hoskins proceeded to tell Mr. Brown just that. He was distracted, though: “All I heard was, ‘Blah blah blah,’” he said. “I drifted off, thinking about how good she looked.”
Rod Serling Would Approve Perhaps the most Twilight Zone-ish of our 2016 how-we-mets involved Allison Gans and Brian Fischer, who were married Sept. 24 in Los Gatos, Calif. The two thought they had first met on JDate in 2013, but when Ms. Gans began looking through her future husband’s childhood photos, she discovered that they had both in the same large group that had traveled to Israel in 1997 for bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies. More digging revealed a video had been taken of a candle-lighting ceremony there in which a rabbi took a candle held by Ms. Gans and gave it to Mr. Fischer. The future bride and groom, though standing just inches apart, scarcely noticed each other.