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By JOSHUA CAMPBELL,

Columbia man’s yard sign yields romantic results

“Girlfriend Wanted No Drugs.”

That’s how it started. Four simple words from a simple man.

Many jumped to conclusions about the person behind the sign after pictures from outside the Alberta Avenue home went viral this week on social media. But if those who stopped looked a little closer, they would see a welcoming Columbia neighbor simply looking for love.

“I’ve been here four years all by myself in this house, and I’m 55 years old and lonely as hell,” New Orleans native Mike Rouse said. “I figured it would be nice to have a girlfriend.”

Rouse studied building sciences at Auburn University and was a contactor most of his life, working as an electrician, carpenter and heating and air specialist. Preferring a quiet life devoid of drunken nights and partying, the handyman found a new passion.

Rouse operates a community garden in his backyard complete with corn, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, bell peppers and figs. Rouse added most people are generous and leave donations, and there are even other local farmers who drop off their excess produce.

“If they want to leave a donation, I have a donation box. If not, take what you want,” he said. “It’s just food.”

While his colorful garden led Rouse to new friends, he was still having a hard time finding a suitable partner so he took his shot.

“One evening I just got a wild hair, opened up a can of paint, turned one of my old signs around and wrote ‘Girlfriend wanted,’” he said.

But ladies, there’s some bad news. An application has been submitted and accepted, and the sign is down. On Wednesday, the ad worked as intended with a widowed nurse who lives in the area stopping by and making Rouse’s day.

“She’s the kind of girl I was looking for. Not one that’s walking up and down the streets,” he said. “I took the sign down just to see if it develops.”

Rouse said they are two “peas in a pod” with a common farming  interest and a yearning for companionship.

When Rouse first planted the sign in his side yard he knew it would draw some attention, but he never expected anything more than passersby getting a kick out of it.

“I didn’t think I’d ever hear anything about it. I figured it was funny, and people might stop and take pictures,” he said. “But I was shocked yesterday when she came by. It was too cool.”

Rouse said there’s a chance the sign returns if things don’t work out with the “cute” applicant, but he hopes he won’t be needing it anymore.

With the success of his viral sign, though, Rouse offered advice for fellow bachelors: “It’s the new social media. If you want a local girl, post a local sign.”

 

Pictured Above: Mike Rouse, owner, author and illustrator of the most popular sign in Columbia, said he found the girl he was looking for when he “posted” his bachelor status in his yard late last week. | Photo by Joshua Campbell