Counting our change of the laundry the other day, we found a dollar bill with a note on it.
"2 guys would like to meet 2 girls in their 20's to take out nights for a good time and dancing. Call John at 2014-256-3872, or Paul at 201-759-3881."
Wishing to know how this novel way of seeking companionship had been going, we decided to call.
John, a 30-year-old photographer in Little Falls, N.J., was not surprised the dollar had reached Washington. He hemmed and hawed and wouldn't say what his last name was -- initially attempting to make sure he was talking to a reporter and "not the F.B.I."
His friend Paul is a 35-year-old pollution equipment worker in Belleville, N.J.
"You're calling from Washington?" Paul asked. "It was all John's idea. Hey, is this for real? Are you really in Washington?"
John and Paul, it seems, have spent the past 10 years stuffing dollar bills into the change machines of the Garden State. They claim they've put into circulation about 1,000 singles, all with their little message typed in red ink around the borders.
And what they have found, in this strange journey into the dark heart of American womanhood, often has been unsetting.
It would seem, from John and Paul, that the singles scene in New Jersey is no better or worse than anywhere else in this great land.
"Paul," said John, "has been going to dating services for 10 years. I can't see that: 50 bucks for two dates. And bars are a dead end, too. So one night I'm sitting in a bar and I think, "Why not put notes on dollar bills?' I called the Treasury Department, and they told me that as long as you don't deface the bill or put a commercial message on it, it's okay. I figure it's like playing the lottery."
But, alas, in 10 years, neither John nor Paul has found eternal bliss at the other end of the telephone line.
"Basically, what you get," said John, "is a lot of weird calls. Girls in the office who have nothing better to do, gay people, very aggressive females. I used to tape record some of the calls and play them for my sister, but they were getting too crazy."
John and Paul figure they've gotten thousands of calls from as far north as Buffalo and as far south as Miami. Yet all those calls have only netted about five dates.
Here's John on one of the girls he met through his favorite matchmaker, George Washington:
"She calls me up and we rendezevous by Penny's in the Willowbrook Shopping Center. She was 5 feet 4, 130 pounds, may be 10 pounds overweight. sI took her to see 'Rocky.' On our second date we went to see 'Fun With Dick and Jane' in Bloomfield. On the third date we went to a drive-in in Parsippany. It was an R-rated movie."
Before you get ideas about two wild and crazy guys, listen to John again:
"Some of these girls nowadays talk just like guys. They know exactly what they want. They want one-night stands. That's a lousy set-up. I want to get married. I have to hang up on some of these girls. They're too obscene."
"Somebody once told me this is like writing on the walls in bathrooms," said John.
"I don't think it's that bad," said he, ever the optimist. "I figure one day we may get lucky."
Perhaps because he is a Sicilian descent, Paul seemed more cautiously reasoned.
"I was married about eight years ago," he said, "but it didn't work out. And I'm not too sure these phone calls will work out, either.
"For some reason, I don't trust women. They always lead you on a wild-goose chase."