The familiar expression “take life’s lemons and make lemonade” is certainly applicable to relationships, but for Adam and Penni, their love story reaches a pinnacle (literally) in a place called “The Lemon Squeeze.” It also has some lessons for JDaters looking for a refreshing serving of good advice…

By June of 2005, Penni had been on a lot of JDates. Her strategy was to cast a wide net and give many personality types a chance, dating new people until she found someone she liked. Adam’s strategy was much more selective – he was careful about whom he initiated contact with. Nonetheless, Penni’s profile caught his eye. I thought that anyone who has the word ‘peeps’ in their profile has to be a fun person.

“I thought she was quite a looker,” Adam admits. “But she seemed like a down-to-earth, fun girl. There was something really funny in her profile – she said she liked to go to independent films with her ‘peeps.’ I thought that anyone who has the word ‘peeps’ in their profile has to be a fun person.”

“That was more my younger side talking,” Penni laughs. “I had been on JDate a really long time and hadn’t updated my profile in awhile.”

Adam wrote to Penni, using the “peeps” line for a humorous icebreaker. They exchanged a couple of emails before Adam embarked on a road trip with his friends, stopping in Chicago and Detroit before the Montreal International Jazz Fest. From his hotel room in Detroit, Adam logged into JDate and noticed that Penni was online. The pair had their first real-time conversation via IM.


“I had a couple friends looking over my shoulder,” Adam remembers. “It was a good exchange, and she gave me her phone number. I called her from Montreal…”

Interestingly, Penni wasn’t sure what to make of their first phone call. “I thought from his profile that he was a good Jewish boy, but I did think, ‘hmmm…’ when he called me from a road trip partying with his friends. There was something iffy about that. I wasn’t certain he was going to be marriage material.”

Adam’s recollection is more favorable. “It wasn’t the best phone call I’d ever had with a girl on JDate, but it wasn’t the worst, either,” he says. “I felt good after I hung up, looking forward to meeting her in person.”

Penni’s mother was eavesdropping and when Penni got off the phone, told her she was a bit rude with Adam. “I was a lot nicer to him the next time,” Penni assures us.

“I owe a lot to her Mom in that regard!” Adam says.

Their first date was meeting up at Heartland Brewery followed by dinner at Pulse, near Rockefeller Center. Adam reserved a window table with what is usually a prime plaza view.

“No one goes ice-skating or has dinner around Rockefeller Plaza during the summer,” Adam says, ruefully. “There was one employee and no other customers, so it was clear we could have had any table we wanted. All I could do was joke that I reserved the entire restaurant for us.”

Penni’s doubts about Adam’s partying were erased the moment she laid eyes on him. “When I saw he was in a nice suit, I thought, “He is a business guy! It wasn’t just a front.”

And, in person, Penni’s smile was everything Adam hoped it would be. “She had a really sweet look about her,” he says. “And I was just floored by her personality. I could tell she was a fiery one, and a lot of fun.”

“We completely hit it off,” Penni says. “We could tell we had very similar personalities.”

Penni had to catch the last Port Authority bus at 11 p.m. ‘I’d get on the bus and text him about all the weird people around me.’
Unfortunately, these two were star-crossed, at least by geography. At the time, Penni was living in New Jersey and had to catch the last Port Authority bus at 11 p.m. Adam walked her to the station. It was a ritual the couple would repeat many times over the next few months, much to Adam’s chagrin.

“You know, people do date in Jersey,” Penni notes, dryly. “New York City is very expensive. But it made it more dramatic – [after a date] I’d get on the bus and text him about all the weird people around me.”

The couple’s romance bloomed over a summer in the city. They became largely inseparable and did a lot of exploring, picnicking in Central Park, and deepening their bond. In January of the following year, Penni moved in with Adam.

“We’re both the type of personality who wouldn’t let that happen unless things were definitely heading toward a future together,” Adam says. “I was already thinking about how to propose…”

Almost a year after they’d met, Adam arranged a surprise weekend getaway to a picturesque Victorian chateau on Mohonk Mountain. Penni expected them to be going somewhere warmer. “I packed all bikinis and summer dresses,” she laughs. “I had no clue we’d be going north. The whole trip was one surprise after another!”

Adam planned to pop the question the day before Penni’s birthday. They would hike a trail to a 110-step tower with a view of five or six states, depending on the weather. But the elements weren’t cooperating that day, so the couple hit the ascent on the very morning of Penni’s birthday.

“It was more grueling of a path than she anticipated,” Adam recalls. “We were rock-scrambling to get up this incline and I remember feeling really paranoid about the ring I was carrying in the back pocket of my shorts!”

penni3At the summit, the duo was faced with one more challenge – a steep crevasse just three feet wide, the only means of ascent was a narrow rope ladder. “It was called ‘The Lemon Squeeze,’” Adam remembers. “It was an appropriate name because one of the only pieces of warm clothes Penni brought was a yellow sweatshirt. She was a sweet little yellow lemon going through the Lemon Squeeze.”

“His Mom gave it to me!” Penni recalls.

Taking in the view at last, Penni was thirsty for Gatorade and needing a Power Bar. But when she asked, Adam reached into his back pocket and took a knee.

“I kept saying, ‘I want Gatorade’,” Penni says. “What is he doing? My mind blanked.”

Adam said, “I have something you’ll want instead.” He pulled the ring box out and opened it for his future wife. Other hikers snapped photos of Penni’s complete shock.

“We were on top of the world, all the way up, and I thought – ‘What a reward!’” Penni says. “It was amazing.”

Adam and Penni will be wed in June 2007 at the Rockleigh Country Club, nestled in the heart of the historic town of Rockleigh, New Jersey.

Today’s singles are always interested in the advice of those who have traveled this road to its happy destination. Penni and Adam are happy to oblige.

Penni’s pictures caught my eye because they were so natural… It’s better to underpromise and overdeliver!

“I think people need to be less critical of little things, like spelling errors,” Penni says. “Chill out! Would you be that reactionary with someone you met in a bar? To me, online dating is just like meeting someone in the office or a bar – relax, go for a beer, and see where it goes. We’re much more critical of people online.”

Adam observes that JDaters often overdo it with their profile photos, “using pictures where they’re all done up to the nines, in makeup and all. Penni’s caught my eye because they were so natural. You could tell that was how she looked in reality… And I used a variety of pictures reflecting different aspects of how I really look. It’s better to underpromise and overdeliver!”

Adam adds that men shouldn’t hesitate to meet the family of a girl they like. “They’ve seen all the decisions that didn’t work out for her, in terms of dates. I wasn’t afraid to get in front of the family and show them what kind of person I was. The fact that Penni’s family was a big fan of mine helped me a lot. They voted for me with Penni.”

In the end, Adam and Penni are overwhelmed with their good fortune. “I feel like I’m marrying up,” Adam says. “The fact that from Day 1 we’ve been perfect and inseparable is what shocks me the most.”

Penni feels blessed, but always knew her soul mate was out there. “I kind of always knew I’d find an Adam. I’m really glad that I found a number of good relationships on JDate and am friends with many of those people to this day… But I knew someday I’d find someone really right for me!”

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