On a lark, they found love


If Tanya Fermin hadn't been stood up and Brandon Jones hadn't taken a job that left him no time to meet women, both might still be single, wondering if their prince (or princess) was ever going to come.

Back in February 1996, Brandon, a customer-service representative for Zurich Personal Insurance in Timonium, was working an 11 a.m.-to-8 p.m. schedule that often went into overtime. "Most of the people I work with are either married or far beyond my age," he says. So there was no hope his job would lead him to the woman of his dreams.

On a lark - and in a move that surprised those closest to him, including his mother, Betty Oglesby - Brandon placed an advertisement in The Sun personals.

"S/PBM 27, 5'6", 185#. ISO SF, 23-29, no children, for friendship, possible relationship," the ad said. Brandon, a single, professional black male, 27 years old and 185 pounds, was in search of a single female, age 23 to 29.

Tanya, leafing through the paper one evening after a man stood her up without so much as an excuse or an apology, decided to answer Brandon's ad and a few others.

Both she and Brandon admit to being instantly struck by each other's voices on taped messages. "She had this big, hearty laugh and I thought, I have to meet her," Brandon says.

Two days later, the couple had their first date and found themselves engrossed in conversation until the wee hours of the morning. "As soon as we started talking, we had so much in common, I knew this was the one," Brandon says.

They both are firm believers in the "old-fashioned and traditional Southern" values that have made their families strong for generations. Brandon, now 29, and Tanya, 28, also like the same kinds of movies - science fiction - and the same music - pop and soul from the 1980s. They enjoy visiting museums and attending festivals, going out to eat and hitting popular Baltimore nightspots.

The couple moved to their Butcher's Hill apartment - where a framed copy of that fateful personal ad hangs prominently on one wall - six months after they met.

Their "crazy" work schedules - Tanya is a human-resources coordinator for the Best Buy chain - mean they don't get to spend as much time together as they'd like, but cellular phones, pagers and answering-machine messages keep them close.

On March 2, the couple were having dinner at Sabatino's when Brandon left the table to check his phone messages. He quickly called Tanya to come and listen. "When I got on the phone, my mother was talking, saying, 'Of course, you can marry our daughter,' " Tanya recalls. "I started crying, it was so sweet."

Back at the table, Brandon got down on one knee and presented Tanya with a rose that had her engagement ring tucked inside the delicate petals. The rest of the diners broke into applause when Tanya said yes.

On May 16, family and friends - including Brandon's mom and Tanya's parents, Richard and Ruth King - applauded just as loudly when Tanya and Brandon were married in a romantic, fairy tale-themed ceremony at the Cloisters.

After a honeymoon trip to Disney World and a cruise to the Bahamas, Tanya and Brandon expect to live happily ever after - with the help of the modern communications technology that brought them together.

Pub Date: 5/24/98

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