Lots of people start dating someone at work, but how many people meet the love of their life while wearing a 60-pound fish tail underwater?
That’s the workplace romance of how Melissa Dawn, 31, a Florida-based “professional mermaid,” found her true love. Dawn, better known as “Mermaid Melissa,” has a huge web following because she can hold her breath for five minutes underwater while swimming in a realistic, not to mention, sexy mermaid outfits.
Perfecting her aquatic talents took up so much of her time that this mermaid was afraid to jump into the dating pool for a long time. It sounds fishy — and it is — but Dawn is in love with Antonio Padilla, 33, a fellow performer who dresses up as a merman for her shows when he’s not performing at Sea World in Orlando.
“From day one, there was a connection, but I didn’t know what it was,” Dawn told The Huffington Post. “I got along with everyone [at Sea World], but he was the only one I wanted to socialize with.”
The two met in 2009, when they were both working as aquatic performers at Sea World. Dawn was building a private business doing mermaid shows at various aquariums and in her own bus equipped with a water tank.
“I was never looking for love, because I’m so business-oriented,” she explained. “I noticed his ability right away. He really brings in the crowds.
“I didn’t realize I liked him romantically until a mutual friend admitted having a crush on him,” Dawn said.
Dawn describes their love as friendship caught fire. She knew he was quite the catch because he’s willingly to help out her shows by hopping into the tank wearing a mermaid tail that weighs up to 60 pounds.
“He just fits the merman ideal,” she said. “He gets women wanting to pet his scales.”
Padilla said when he was approached about becoming a merman, he was willing to give it a try for Dawn, who, was at the time, just his friend.
“At first, I was skeptical, but I like a challenge,” he said. “It’s hard on the legs. Sometimes, my toes are completed pointed in the fins for two, three hours at a time.”
– Mark Dalton