Former Altar Boy Finds Latin His Language of Love

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BRIGHTON, Mass. Like all of us, Mike Ovashevski isn’t getting any younger, and in his case a big milestone looms ahead. “I turn 70 next year,” he says wistfully. “I didn’t want to end my life alone, but I could never get Shirleen”–his former wife–“to share my passion for Star Wars commemorative plastic drink cups.”

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And so he scrolls dating sights on Saturday nights, looking for some angle that will help him overcome the numerous negatives in his profile. “Most women are so superficial,” he says, shaking his head at the thought of his past romantic failures. “They focus on trivial things like whether I’m really a millionaire if I want to go ‘Dutch.’ I have to explain to them that if I ever sold my Star Wars collection–which I’m not going to–I could buy and sell Warren Buffett.”

“I wouldn’t give you a plugged nickel for those damn cups.”

But an idle comment by a communicant at St. Swithin’s Church, where Mike attends daily mass, gave him a spark of inspiration. “I really miss the Latin Mass,” said Shirley Silvester to a friend one day on the steps outside church. Mike overheard, and a new dating strategy was born.  “I got in just under the wire,” he says, recalling his career as a grade school altar boy in 1962-63, before the ceremony of Mass was anglicized by Vatican II, the 21st Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church.  “After me, you didn’t have to learn the Mass in Latin–even though I don’t know what any of that mumbo-jumbo meant.”

He changed his screen name to “Introibo”–the first word of the Catholic ritual in Latin–a tip-off to women who prefer their religion cloaked in mystery, or at least a dead language. He added an avatar of Pope Hadrian III, who whipped a naked widow through the streets of Rome, and poked out the eyes of George of the Aventine. “Wild women,” he says with a nod and a wink to this writer, “love bad boys.”

“I got thirteen winks, waves or nudges the first night,” he says gleefully. “I had so many prospects I was farming them out to my other loser friends.”

The erotic allure of hierophantic religious ritual has been noted down through the ages, from ancient sects to current-day charismatic cults. “It’s not surprising,” say Prof. Allan Macomber of St. George’s College. “If you tell a woman you have a direct pipeline to God, she’s going to rate you higher in the marketplace of romance than an accountant”–at this point he pauses to clear a lump in his throat–“or a professor.”

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This Sunday Ovashevski will go to Mass at 6:30 a.m. because he has a brunch date lined up for noon, then later will take in a revival of the tear-jerker romance “Love Story,” then will top it all off with dinner at Applebee’s where he plans to spring a surprise on Linda Ramey, his third date of the day. “I’ve got a coupon for $5 off the lower-priced entree,” he says with a leer, “and I’m going to apply it to her half of the bill.”

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