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Brenden Macaluso and Nicole Buergers snuggle this month at the Houston eatery where they met--in person, gasp, not online--nearly a year ago.
PAT SULLIVAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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BY LEANNE ITALIE
NEW YORK--Nicole Buergers and Brenden Macaluso struck up a conversation about hipster eyewear over free beer and cheap eats at a Houston hangout one Sunday afternoon.
Macaluso recalls the evening ending this way:
Nicole: "So how do we do this?"
Brenden: "You give me your number, I call you and we go out and have fun."
Yep, random love is alive and well in Houston. In this age of online dating, virtual flirting and location-based hookup by app, these two-- both 32--are firm believers in three-dimensional serendipity nearly a year after their first encounter.
Even better, Macaluso realized before pursuing Buergers further that the two attended the same large suburban high school and had been in a couple of English classes together.
"Like many young people in the 21st century I had taken a stab at Internet dating," said Macaluso, an industrial designer who also restores vintage motorcycles. "For me this was a complete failure. My experiences had always resulted in awkward dates."
That, he said, left a simple formula for finding love: meeting in person, and "when you least expect it, not when you're trying to."
Mechanized dating remains a huge business worth a billion or more worldwide, but several others like Macaluso in living-online generations said they, too, found their happiness the old-fashioned way.
In other facets of life they remain avid users of digital tools and social networks, which is where the AP caught up with them, including 28-year-old Patrick Murphy in Medway, Mass., southwest of Boston.
Murphy, the general manager of a junk removal business, found a girlfriend online and the two eventually moved in together. The relationship soured about three years later and he returned from a weekend away to find she had disappeared all his stuff.
With little money, no furniture and a whopping case of the blues, Murphy's co-workers alerted him to a tags-on leather couch somebody didn't want. After he picked it up, word came through the office that a local teen club was in search of a sofa, so he decided to donate it instead.
Enter Caroline Cooke, the club worker who took possession of said couch.
"I wasn't looking for love," said Murphy of their unlikely meeting in late 2008. "I was just looking to make it through each day. We've been together ever since."