Coral Palace

Tyler Katapodis was unlucky in love, but persistent. For the period between August 1967 and September 1970 he proposed marriage no less than seven hundred and thirty seven times, all to the same person, Ms. — later Dr. — Joan Selley of Cape Coral, Florida, and was rejected seven hundred and thirty seven times. In 1971 he stopped proposing, and disappeared, much to the relief of Ms. Selley.

In 1991, he returned, greyer and thinner and stooped slightly, hands thick with calluses, and convinced Dr. Selley to go away with him, on the understanding that he would expect nothing from her and that she should be back in time for dinner the next day. Dr. Selley left messages with three different people, announcing her intent and including a current description of Mr. Katapodis — her brother, her husband, and a cousin living in upstate New York that she hadn’t seen in twenty years, though they talked regularly on the phone.

In the car he said little, concentrating on his driving, and the burden of the conversation fell on Dr. Selley. She told him about her family, her flourishing chiropractic business, and her children. He seemed composed, and even a little resigned underneath the burden of this domestic history.