Ashly Mae used to scare her daughter while watching Utah Jazz games.
“When I watch a Jazz game alone, I’m a completely different person,” Ashly says. “I’m a lunatic. I’m screaming, I’m yelling, my neighbors hate me, my daughter in her room is like ‘Mom! I can’t do homework on Jazz game nights!’”
The good news: she doesn’t have to watch them alone anymore. Last Saturday, November 2nd, Ashly and Dustin LaMarr (@prodigal_punk on Twitter), a longtime writer for SLCDunk, were married in downtown Salt Lake City. This isn’t a typical love story, though; these two lovers met on Twitter while discussing Jazz basketball.
It all started when the Jazz posted a link to some team blogs on UtahJazz.com in 2011. Ashly (perhaps better known as @SurlyMae), who had “no one in [her] real life who would talk about the Jazz”, found the conversation with other Jazz fans on SLCDunk scintillating.
She started a Twitter account to get more of the conversation. There, she became an integral part of the Jazz Twitter community, participating in discussions with Jazz fans around the world, including Dustin. When a “Tweetup”, a real-life meetup for Jazz Twitter participants, was organized prior to the playoff-clinching game against the Phoenix Suns in April 2012, Ashly was excited to meet the people she had been communicating with online so long in real life.
The meetup took place at Iggy’s in Downtown SLC, and Ashly had an eye out for Dustin.
“Dustin was my favorite writer on SLCDunk”, the 34-year-old Ashly says, “so I was excited to meet him. But when he showed up, he looked like he was 24, and that was ridiculous.” They didn’t say a word to each other at the event, but continued communicating along with other Jazz fans on Twitter about their shared passion: basketball.
The first time they conversed in person was not until months later, in October 2012. Then, Dustin, 33, invited friends for a drink at the Beerhive, a local pub, and put an invitation on Twitter. Ashly saw the tweet, and came along. There, they talked and flirted a bit before Dustin made his next move.
“I had enough liquid courage that I DMed her [Twitter language for sending someone a direct message] and asked ‘Hey, when are you and I going to get drinks?’”, Dustin explained. “So we DMed back and forth a little bit, then exchanged numbers.”
They set their first date for last November 4th, a Sunday brunch. Dustin says, “That was it. We never looked back from there. It just worked out.”
Just a week later, word spilled to the Jazz Twitter community of the relationship by way of technological accident. In an intended DM, Dustin revealed his secret to @AllThatAmar, managing editor of SLCDunk. Unfortunately, instead of posting as a DM, it posted as a normal tweet to the world, and immediately the entire community knew. Ashly was not pleased.
There were some obstacles to overcome. Dustin was sent to Oakland, California, to oversee a opening of a new store for his company in January. He spent 6 months in Oakland, while Ashly waited patiently in Salt Lake City. They spent every other weekend flying back and forth to see each other. As Dustin explains, “That Provo-to-Oakland direct flight [on Allegiant Airlines] was a godsend to us because it saved us so much money.”
Upon Dustin’s return, he knew he wanted to make his next move, but wasn’t sure how: “I thought ‘when I get back, I’ll probably give it a month just to make sure that when we’re around each other a lot, we don’t hate each other’, and then I was going to do it. But I didn’t know where she stood on it yet. I didn’t know if she was worried about it.”
Dustin got his answer in a text. “She sent me this text saying, ‘We should just get married and buy a house together, haha don’t be scared.’” He took it as a sign that Ashly had the same idea. The next week, Dustin and Ashly talked one night, and Dustin told her, “You know that thing you texted me last week? I want to do that.” Further conversation ensued, but it was clear: they were on the same page.
The wedding was a small affair in downtown Salt Lake, only about 20-25 people attended. But the ceremony itself was just as public as their courtship was: the couple actually live streamed the wedding so that family and friends from other locales could watch online. The wedding stream could even be seen on computers on press row during the Jazz’s home game, scheduled for the same time.
With a quick timeframe between engagement and wedding in order to facilitate the purchase of a house together in Salt Lake, life has been hectic but happy for Dustin and Ashly. November brings three new beginnings for the pair: a new marriage, with a new house, and a new Jazz season.
Don’t underestimate the latter’s importance for the couple. As Ashly explains, “If he wasn’t a Jazz fan, well… let’s just say that was one of my requirements.” They have devised a 10-year plan together that includes Jazz season tickets in the first 5 rows, across from the bench.
“I’m going to be the Spike Lee of Salt Lake City”, Dustin promises. “I have mad heckling skills, mad trash talking skills.”