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For Debra Dolan and Mike Frizell, loves means never having to say ‘see you at our place.’ How a solid friendship blossomed into an unconventional romance.
Who: Debra Dolan, 59, administrator on long-term disability. Mike Frizell, 63, retired electrician.
Relationship status: Unmarried since 2001.
An administrator and a gentleman
Debra: We met one day when Mike came in to do a fire alarm inspection at the faculty of commerce where I was working. I was instantly attracted. I even dropped a few hints about being single, but nothing. Several months later, I was dating someone who invited me to his friend’s dinner party and the friend was Mike!
Mike: I was going through a divorce at the time and Debra was just someone I really enjoyed talking to. She had also been through a tough breakup. It was like First World War vets talking about unhappy, far off times. We developed a bond.
Debra: I always had a history of getting involved way too early. I don’t think I’d ever really been friends with a man before we were intimate.
Mike: I’m a gentleman.
Debra: He always says that!
On poetry and pornography
Debra: Previously the men I had dated were what you would call “big dancers.” Charming, but a bit too suave. The first time Mike came to my house he brought a bunch of bananas.
Mike: I thought of it like a banana bouquet.
Debra: A few months in, we went away for our first weekend. We were driving to Victoria, and Mike pulled into a garage sale. I was thinking, really buddy? This is our dirty weekend!
Mike: I really love garage sales. And then it turns out this wasn’t just any garage sale
Debra: It was Susan Musgrave’s house! The Canadian poet. She helped me through my deepest, darkest teenage hours.
Mike: When we told her it was our first weekend away, she gave us a porn video. We’re not making this up!
Living apart together
Debra: One of the things we both agreed on early on is that we didn’t want to combine finances. And we didn’t want to get married. If we had met earlier and wanted to start a family, maybe we would have felt differently.
Mike: I have three children so my thoughts are toward leaving them an inheritance. We just thought, why complicate things?
Debra: I feel like I like Mike too much to marry him. I have a home in a funky part of town and Mike’s place is like being out in the country.
Mike: Every so often we will test the limits of our patience by “moving in together,” but we both enjoy having our own space.
Debra: I have gone through some significant health issues and Mike has been so wonderful. I love that it feels like we make a choice to be together, so that I’m not worrying that he feels sorry for me or feels obliged. He’s free to go.
Mike: It’s still early in the evening. Ha!