Heads up, ladies, Jim Bays is single and he’s crowdsourcing the perfect woman to spend the rest of his life with via an eye-catching billboard located along highway 29 going west.
The billboard popped up in November with a picture of Bays, clad in a plaid button-down and cowboy hat, reading “Wanted: A good woman, 50-55ish, for talks & walks & mutual acts of kindness,” and will be up until at least the end of December, possibly through January.
“It's not like when you were in high school and it's easy to meet somebody,” Bays told Austonia. “How do you meet somebody that's on the same page? How do you create the number of accidents that need to happen in order for you to meet somebody that you really mix well with?”
Twice divorced with five kids ranging from 12-41, Bays said he’s tried dating apps but found that they “involved too much game plan,” didn’t accurately portray the other party’s personality and that it was hard to coordinate meeting up with potential matches.Already getting a fresh start in Texas after moving himself and his business from Washington state in June, the 66-year-old spec builder and contractor gathered up the courage to put himself back out there in a big way.
Bays is busy, dating is time-consuming and putting up a billboard ad was a way to bring the matches to him without having to swipe.
“I'm glad that I've done it and believe me, it made my knees knock together,” Bays said. “I'm thinking about my picture on a billboard knowing full well that I'm going to get a complete range of phone calls.”
First and foremost, potential matches need to know that Bays is married to his job to a fault. Bays likes to keep busy and encourages those around him to do the same—he put his daughters in dance classes to “keep them out of trouble”—so working six days per week is common for him.
His rigorous work ethic is what he attributes to the end of his second marriage, which lasted 19 years, saying they drifted apart since he was so often gone. Bays doesn’t plan on making the same mistakes again.
“I wanted to get them involved in something that taught them how to work hard and get to be good at something. It also took them away from me when I had an opportunity because my projects own me until I'm done,” Bays said. “I think what happened was, I got my kids and my wife too busy and then they didn't have time for me when I had time because they were busy.”
He’s also an athlete—Bays has been running and going to the gym since he was 19 years old, so fitness is important to him. Bays knows who he is and what’s important to him, so he thinks his next relationship is going to stick.
“I’m busy but we're not intended to go through life alone,” Bays said. “Anybody who doesn't believe that, all they have to do is listen to that something inside them that constantly seems to be nudging them to go find somebody special.”
What kind of woman is Bays looking for?
Bays's ideal woman is kind, understanding and in it for the longhaul. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
So far, Bays has gone on four or five dates resulting from his billboard ad. Though the five dates he’s been on so far haven’t been that spark yet, he said he’s optimistic.
Growing up with a mother from Georgia, Bays enjoys the hospitality the south is known for, so he positioned the billboard away from cities and high-traffic areas. Bays said his ideal soulmate is loving, kind, encourages him in his endeavors, forgives him of his mistakes and understands stress.
“Somebody that has a shoulder where I can just lay my head down or a lap that I can lay my head down,” Bays said. “Somebody who says, ‘Don't worry, you're going to get through this. It'll be fine.’ I'd love to find somebody like that.”
Bays said it best when he remarked that “a woman doesn’t want to marry a boy,” so he knows that what he brings to the table is equally important. Bays likes a strong-willed, independent woman but said she needs to be capable of admitting her faults.
“My first wife, I loved her to death and she loved me too, but we were two generals in the house, two leaders in the house. We were always butting heads because of that,” Bays said. “I think my first wife married a boy. She wanted a man but she married a boy.”
Bays is still on the lookout for the woman of his dreams. Don’t worry too much about the age range—Bays is just looking for a woman who is younger than him. If the man of your dreams is strong, well-off, a family man and busy bee, look no further.
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Nicklaus Pereksta says he loves photographing enthusiastic people, and it’s why his latest gig offering pictures to people out on Lady Bird Lake’s hike and bike trail is going smoothly. He sets up his gear on the Pfluger pedestrian bridge and puts out a sign: Photos, $10.
“Overwhelmingly, this has been a really positive experience,” Pereksta said. “I get excited when I wake up in the morning and I can't wait to go to work.”
Bikers and joggers are excited about it too. On the pedestrian bridge leading to downtown Thursday morning, a man on an e-bike rode up and posed, wanting more photos.
“I posted the last pictures on Instagram and people loved it. They asked, ‘where is this guy?’” the biker told Pereksta. Bashfully, Pereksta, who also photographs landscapes and at weddings and other events, said he was happy to hear that.
Pereksta started these photos about a month ago, after the strenuous runs required in his valet job started causing pain in his legs. And though he has a passion for photography, he wasn’t so sure when he started working independently if it would work out.
He felt uncertain about the demand for it and was also worried about having lots of expensive equipment out in the open.
“Then like the first day was nothing but high praise and people are like, this is so awesome. This is great. I've never seen anything like this before. I was like, Wow, this was really good, like positive turnout. So I got encouraged.”
Now, he wants to expand and is thinking of contacting the Mueller Farmers Market about how to become a vendor. Still, he'll carry a connection to photographing on the bridge since the word bridge is related to his last name.
“It's a name my great, great, great grandfather came up with when he was marrying somebody. It's actually quite a romantic name. It means a joining of two bridges," Pereksta said. "So, I thought it was ironic that I'm set up on a bridge. I'm kind of representing my last name right now.”
Austonia talked to Pereksta about life in Austin, where he’s lived for eight years after living in Boston doing band photography.
What was your first experience with Austin?
I came here to visit some friends and they took me to Barbarella. So we went to Barbarella and I was like, ‘wow, this place is great.’ And then the restaurants and the food and going to Barton Springs. I was like, ‘this is amazing.’ Because there's nothing like that in Boston. If you want to go to a natural spring, you got to go to New Hampshire. There's no pools in the city at all. So there's lots of swimming out here.
What do you like best about Austin?
You go to any little quiet bar and there's a band playing that should be like onstage for a sold out show. Yeah, they're playing to 10 people, right? Like, one of the best bands ever and they're playing for 10 people, right? And just little magic moments like that are pretty fun. You just run into little random weird things.
What do you think makes Austin different from other places?
There’s no fall.
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