The middle-aged guy is working on an oil ship, and trying to sell his house in Washington. He wants to tell me about his house.
He once put a sign in his yard: two interlocking hearts, "wife wanted," and his phone number. The local paper picked it up, then the Seattle one, then the TV station. It went out on the A.P., internationally. He got letters from all over the world and dated a lot of women. But none of them wanted to live in his tiny house, only 360 square feet, but with a million-dollar view.
He sighs, and goes on to tell me about a woman he met while working in Hawaii 20 years ago. He fell in love with her, but he didn't feel like he could treat her right and provide her with everything she deserved, because he was poor at the time.
Anyway, his ship was in Hawaii a few weeks ago, and she was still there. He met up with her, and it turns out that she'd gotten married, then divorced. The guy she'd ended up with was no good, roughed her up a little.
"And I thought, I could've at least done better than that," he says.
I begin to tell him that that's the thing, treating someone right isn't about material stuff so much as…
"Love and respect." He says it at the same time I do.
He understands. They talk on the phone, and the house is for sale.