Friday, April 09, 1999

Couple find recipe for love at Taste of Cincinnati

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Everyone has a story worth telling. At least, that's the theory. To test it, Tempo is throwing darts at the phone book. When a dart hits a name, a reporter dials the phone number and asks whether someone in the home will be interviewed. Their stories appear on Fridays.

        A year ago Allen Asbrock was decidedly single, living in his hometown of Reading and working as a supervisor at Sysco Food Services in Evendale.

        His job is now the same. But the rest of it has changed, thanks to a chance encounter with a woman in a baseball cap at last year's Taste of Cincinnati, and his own willingness to risk and hope.

        Mr. Asbrock, 53 and twice divorced, was at the festival with a couple of friends. Two women walked by. He noticed one of them.

        “She had an Old Navy hat on with her hair all tucked up, and I said, how neat for a woman to come down to Taste of Cincinnati looking like she just came from cleaning houses,” says Mr. Asbrock, a man of medium build who looks like the avid golfer that he is. “I said, this woman must have a great personality because she doesn't spend a lot of time trying to look perfect.”

        He sauntered over, struck up a conversation. They went out and on May 8, less than a year after they met, Mr. Asbrock and Alice Rice will be married.

        He admits that two divorces left him convinced he would never marry again. But all his fears evaporated once he got to know Ms. Rice, a market researcher with Ipsos ASI.

        “It's like I'm looking into a mirror when I look at her. She likes to play golf, I like to play golf. She knows what a flanker is in football, she knows what a full-court press is. Conversation-wise, we can sit and talk for hours and I never had that before,” he says.

        The other big change in Mr. Asbrock's life grew out of his love for Ms. Rice. After they decided to marry, he moved into her Mason condominium. That meant leaving Reading, where he was born and where he and his 11 siblings grew up.

        For someone from well inside the I-275 beltway, Mason seemed like the middle of nowhere. But Mr. Asbrock found the region had changed since he formed his first impressions.

        “This was the hills, the cows and the sheep were still out here,” he says of his earlier image of his new home. “I've had some friends ask me, "Why do you want to move way out there?' But it's right off the expressway. You can be downtown in 20 minutes — it's not far at all.”

        Their home is a tidy condominium, its neutral furniture complemented by a painting and wood carving by Mr. Asbrock. The couple plan to move to a small house sometime after they're married, and there's no doubt it will be beyond I-275.

        “I think there are better stores out here. When you're in town you don't have your strip malls or shopping centers. You get off at Tylersville Road, and there's just about anything you could want, and it's all five minutes away,” he says.

        “When you sit out on the patio and look at the stars they look a lot brighter out here, and the farther out you go the brighter they seem.”

        Mr. Asbrock, who has four children ages 16 to 27, and Ms. Rice will marry in a simple courthouse ceremony, followed by a cruise to the Virgin Islands and a small party with family and friends when they return. Ms. Rice has two teen-age children who live in St. Louis.

        And after the honeymoon and party, a life of wedded bliss, including lots of golf. Mr. Asbrock is sure of it this time.

        “You say what are the differences between this and the two previous occasions, and you look at it and say there are a lot of differences,” he says.

        “You'd think somebody who's been divorced two times would be more, "I don't know if I want to do this,' but I'm quite content.”


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