MARY JANE FINE, Staff Writer
The Record (Bergen County, NJ)
By MARY JANE FINE, Staff Writer
Date: 08-03-1997, Sunday
Section: NEWS
Edition: All Editions -- Sunday

She was NISI, the lonely housewife. He was PAULF, the guy from England.

Their romance began in early summer, four years ago, with tentative messages typed on computer screens an ocean apart.

"I asked if he was really from England, and he's, like, `Yeah,'" recalled Denise Sushko, 35, of Lodi, as she leaned into the mirror to check her makeup one more time. "I was really taken by that."

"She asked me to call 'er on the tellyphone," remembered Paul Field, 26, as he paced downstairs on the redwood deck. "I waited a day and then called 'er. I don't remember if I did 'at on purpose or not."

On Saturday morning, that little bit of trans-Atlantic kismet culminated in marriage in the Saddle Brook back yard of Ronnie Meier, the man whose computer bulletin board had played matchmaker for the bride and groom.

Ever since computer chat rooms began competing with singles bars, it was probably inevitable that the term "computer hookup" would assume a boy-meets-girl connotation.

Meier, 57, who operated his own "Chat Chalet" bulletin board for a decade before selling it last year, knows of at least four other marriages instigated by his computer service. He used to run an announcement on line, offering the use of his back yard to any couple who met via his bulletin board.

So far, only Paul and Denise have taken him up on it.

"Oh, I'm thrilled," said a beaming, tuxedoed Meier, as he surveyed the crepe paper wedding bells and streamers festooning his deck and the cyclone fence beyond it. "I'm honored they asked me."

As the hour approached 11 a.m., guests began drifting in to fill the rows of white plastic bistro chairs set out on the grass. Meier compulsively double-checked to be sure his tape of Mendelssohn's "Wedding March" was in place. His wife, Ning, a Hackensack hair-and-nail salon owner, made a final trip upstairs to ensure that Denise's upswept curls had stayed in place.

The minutes ticked by. The bride's daughters from her first marriage -- Nicole and Lauren Sushko, 10 and 6 years old, respectively -- peeked out through the sliding glass door, their peach-colored satin dresses still miraculously unwrinkled.

When her first marriage was failing, Denise Sushko took her sister's advice and went on line. She met Paul Field -- a computer repairman living on the Isle of Wight, off England's southern coast -- almost immediately.

"We started chatting," she said, sliding her wedding gown carefully over her coiffure. "He told me all about his country, and I told him who I was. At the time, I was a lonely housewife . . . stuck at home with no one to talk to."

Soon afterward, Denise's marriage ended, and Paul flew to the United States, where the two fell in love (despite her first impression of him as "a computer geek"). She later persuaded him to cut his hair, wear contact lenses rather than glasses, and trade in his pocket-protector shirts for T-shirts.

And then, at last, on Saturday morning, a radiant Denise walked toward her husband-to-be on the arm of the man who made it all possible.

"Her stepfather gave her away the first time, and it ended in divorce," Meier explained. "She said that was bad luck, so this time she asked me."

Illustrations/Photos: PHOTO - ED HILL / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER - From left: Judge Nicholas P. Nasarenko, Paul Field, and Denise Sushko, Field and Sushko were married in Saddle Brook on Saturday, four years after they began exchanging computer messages across the Atlantic.


Copyright 1997 Bergen Record Corp. All rights reserved.