Saturday, October 3, 2015

Ann & Al Simpson-Play Cupid

This may be the “feel good” story of the year. Not a word is fiction. From where he sits even today, Shakespeare is writing the sonnet. It’s about the time Al and Ann Simpson played cupid.

Where’d they shoot their arrows? At the hearts of an unlikely couple. Their aim was dead-on. Arthur Middleton is a South Carolinian; Ann Sale a New Yorker by way of West Virginia.

Studying wolves, elk, and bears connected Middleton to Wyoming. Middleton connected Anna. Alone they are intriguing. Together they are captivating. Dr. Middleton is a research scientist at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Science. Dr. Middleton once left college momentarily to travel to England to become a falconer. Later he returned, eventually earning a doctorate in ecology from the University of Wyoming. Anna attended Stanford before finding herself a radio reporter in New York City.

Anna and Arthur met at a Fourth of July party hosted by Matt Lieber, owner of a company producing Brooklyn podcasts. Long story short, it was love at first sight. Though, the Simpsons couldn’t have played Cupid if it had lasted. It didn’t.

Over the next couple of years, Arthur squeezed in the completion of his dissertation and some fieldwork in South America. Anna roamed the country reporting on the 2012 Presidential contest. Often they went as much as six weeks without seeing one another. A weekend here, a day or so there.

Then came the break-up. As Anna described it for the New York Times, she asked him, “Are we buying a couch for our living room, something that we are investing in together, or am I buying a couch that is mine?” Arthur gave the wrong answer. He was outta there.

His heart was broken. He wanted another chance. He called and texted and flew to New York trying to make up. Didn’t happen. He brooded. Then he remembered the award ceremony.

Dr. Middleton was scheduled to receive an important award; something called the Camp Monaco Prize, for his study of elk in Wyoming. The ceremony was set for Cody. Cody, Wyoming? Isn’t that where former Senator Al Simpson lives? Dr. Middleton didn’t know Al; had never met him. But somehow he knew Al could save him from his broken heart.

Arthur wrote Al. Asked if he could help him get back the love of his life. He wanted Al to call Anna. He told the newspaper, “I decided if you want something so badly and you are not willing to humiliate yourself, get down on your knees in front of everybody, then what’s wrong with you?”

Al was inclined to ignore the letter. It was too weird. Ann Simpson told him he couldn’t blithely ignore a lovesick man who’s willing to risk embarrassment to seek Simpson’s help.

Al called Anna. Left a voice message. “Hello, this is former Senator Al Simpson. Could you please call me in Cody, Wyoming.” Anna listened. She’d never heard of Al. Was this a prank? What the heck? She returned the call.

Ann Simpson and her husband talked long distance to the woman they’d never met about a man they’d never met about how deeply in love he was with her. Al asked her, “What do you have to lose?” Come to Cody. Be there when Arthur receives his award. If you still don’t want to get back together, go home contentedly.

Anna Sale came to Wyoming. She went to the award dinner with Arthur Middleton. Later they talked as they hiked. Love rekindled. Cupid hit the target.

They were married in Cody on August 15. The ebullient Simpsons watched with their long, loving marriage a testament to how good it can be.

“I can’t believe how the hell I got into this,” Al told the New York Times in his inimitable way. “He (Dr. Middleton) realized he’d been out there messing around with the elk when he could have been messing around with Anna.”

Ann and Al Simpson. Cupid. You gotta love Wyoming.

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