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To help Dobama Theatre celebrate its 50th anniversary and its first season in its new home, we asked readers to send in essays about 10 minutes in Cleveland that changed their lives. We received a wide range of entries, including some that adhered closely to the guidelines and some that took liberties but still made for good reads. All three winning entries will be read by actors following an upcoming performance of 10 More Minutes from Cleveland, by local playwright Eric Coble (who also helped choose the winners). Here's one:

By Kathy Sazdanoff

I grew up in Norwalk, which is a small town about an hour west. When I was younger I would always escape to Cleveland for a night of fun. But Never did I think that I would meet the love of my life on the streets of Cleveland.

It was mid-summer 2004, I had just gotten back from visiting family in the European country Macedonia. My friend had taken me out to go dancing at the Pirate’s Cove for ’80s night. I had a lot to drink that night so my friend offered to drive me home. As she was trying to navigate out of the city, we ended up in Public Square, which was completely out of the way. As we were at a stoplight, we looked over to the car next to us and it had two guys our age inside. The guy in the passenger seat started blowing kisses at me. If I were sober I probably would’ve thought that was a creepy, but at the time I thought it was oddly cute.

They started streaming, “Hey!” to my guy friend that was in my backseat. Apparently they knew each other. “Where you guys headed?” asked one of the boys. My guy friend replied, “We’re going to My Friends to eat.”

So the two guys followed us. We arrived at My Friends and the guy that was blowing me kisses sat next to me. I told him how we went the wrong way and ended up on Public Square. He admitted that they had gotten lost too. After a few minutes of talking, I had realized that we had spoken online before.
I asked, “Are you Mikey from Elyria?”

“Ya, how did you know that?” he asked.

“I think we talked online before, I’m Kathy from I think I tried to get you to come out to my parties.”

“Oh yeah? I don’t remember you. If we’ve talked online before, how come we haven’t fucked yet?”

I was floored. I thought, “Who does this scummy guy think he is?” But I wasn’t sure whether to be completely appalled or oddly attracted to this guy. We ended up parting ways after a few hours of chatting at the restaurant.

The next day he messaged me on Myspace and said he remembered who I was and that he’s always had a huge crush on me. For about two weeks I played hard to get, which I usually don’t do. He tried to get me to come out and see him but I always put it off. But he was persistent so I decided to give him a chance.
After spending time with him, I saw that he wasn’t the scummy guy I thought him to be at the restaurant. That was just his odd sense of inappropriate humor that I have come to love. We both had a collection of ticket stubs from shows we’ve seen in Cleveland. We discovered that we had been to all of the same shows and knew a lot of the same people, but have never crossed paths before.

Here we are, five years later, happily married with two puppies and a kitty, living in a house we just bought in West Park. If it weren’t for that random crazy night getting lost in Cleveland, we most likely would have never met.

The other winning entries are here and here.

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