How's Your Pickup? L.a.'s Freeway Singles Club Offers a Smooth Way to Get Your Love Life in Gear

updated 05/27/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/27/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Eighteen months ago Ruth Guillou, a 50ish widow from Huntington Beach, Calif., was tooling down the road, thinking about how lonely she was, when "this handsome gentleman—my Prince Charming—drove up beside me at a stoplight in a yellow Cadillac," Ruth recalls. "He looked over at me, I looked back at him, and we just kept staring at each other. And I thought, 'Boy, would I like to meet him.' " Then, because this is real life, the light changed. "Prince Charming turned left," says Ruth gloomily, "and drove out of my life."

Guillou, who would have preferred a happily-ever-after ending, decided not to take that left turn sitting down. "I realized that if he had had some sort of decal on his car that identified him, we could have met," she says. Two weeks later, she placed an order for 1,500 such decals, and the Freeway Singles Club was born. Members pay $35 for a sticker with their own identifying number. Then, they set out to find their own Prince or Princess Charming on the freeway, hoping to draw some inquiries themselves. All letters, addressed to members' I.D. numbers, are forwarded by the club—and VROOM!

So far more than 3,000 singles (all but 300 of them in Southern California) have signed up, and at least one decal couple has gotten married. Andrea Baxter, a 23-year-old senior at Cal State, Long Beach, joined because, "At bars you meet lots of weird people." Two months ago Andrea, in her blue Honda Prelude, spotted a tall, lanky, blond stranger getting out of his white VW Bug. Sure enough, the stranger—who turned out to be Todd Kwelberg, 26, also a Cal State senior—had a Freeway Singles sticker on his car. Andrea sent him her picture, a list of her interests and her phone number. Todd, though skeptical, asked her out. He says, "You don't feel as uneasy as you do approaching a woman in a public place." Now they're dating each other exclusively. Two of Andrea's once skeptical friends have become Freeway Singles.

Bill Farell, a 73-year-old, three-time divorcé, has no intention of marrying again, but he joined the club because "I refuse to stay home alone and do nothing." Perhaps because he drives a blue Cadillac Eldorado, Farell has received letters from four club members. He is currently dating two of them without complications and would like to make it three. When he started a limousine service recently, Bill instructed his drivers to keep their eyes peeled for women with club decals. Says Bill: "This way, I've got extra eyes looking for me out there on the highway."

Guillou, who is expanding the club into 18 states, was amused to learn that a few, presumably married members Scotch-tape their decals to rental cars when they're away on business trips. She says that when a couple starts going out, the woman usually wants the man to take his decal off immediately, but he generally wants to keep it on, at least for a while. "Men don't think marriage at all in the beginning," she explains, "but women usually do."

She knows. So far, the Freeway Singles' founder has gone out with about a dozen members. Alas, none has come up to the standard of the Cadillac driver who got away. When it comes to love in the fast lane, Guillou admits, "I'm still looking."

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