After an unopened Christmas gift earned him 15 minutes of fame, Edmontonian Adrian Pearce has still not found his long-lost ex-girlfriend but has received interesting overtures from some strange imposters.
Pearce rose to international fame this holiday season for keeping an unopened Christmas gift given to him by a girl named Vicki — his first serious girlfriend who dumped him 47 years ago.
Since his story went international, three women have come forward claiming to be his old flame.
"I figure these people aren't who they say they are, and they can't answer my questions," Pearce said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM on Tuesday.
Pearce has questioned the strangers about old geology teachers and old dates. No one has been able to accurately answer.
Pearce suspects he's attracted a few catfish.
"They know they would be outed the minute they gave me the wrong answer," said Pearce. "I want to see if they are bona fide."
The now infamous present, dog-eared and tattered, was given to Pearce in 1970 when he was a 17-year-old Grade 12 student at George S. Henry Secondary School in Don Mills in suburban Toronto.
It was just a few days before Christmas, and Pearce was looking forward to the holidays when Vicki broke up with him, just before handing him a small gift, wrapped in shiny blue paper.
Pearce was so upset that day, he vowed to never open the present. And he never has.
For years, Pearce continued putting the present under the tree, even after he got married and had children.
Pearce's strange tale of stubbornness went international after getting picked up by journalists in Edmonton a few days before Christmas.
A moron, a heartbroken bloke
The story has made headlines in the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, England and the United States, where the New York Post headlined his story: "Wife stays with moron who put unopened gift from ex under the tree for 47 years".
Pearce is taking all the publicity, even that less-than-polite headlines, in stride.
"I thought that was funny. They've got to sell newspapers, and get people to look at their website, so calling me a moron didn't affect me at all," said Pearce, a veteran cameraman in the city.
"I mean, the English called me a 'Heartbroken bloke.' They've got to do what they have to and I didn't take offence."
Pearce can't quite understand why people are so captivated by his 47-year-old gift saga, but thinks it may have something to do with hope.
"It's pretty funny. It does surprise me that it went that far, that people were that interested," he said.
"There's so much crappy news out there. This isn't fake news. This is real news and this is a story that could have a happy ending."
'Christmas wouldn't be the same without it' - Adrian Pearce
Pearce still hopes to find Vicki. He's tried contacting her through friends and old phone numbers, to no avail.
If they do reconnect, he wants them to open the gift together on the "50th anniversary" of their breakup. If that doesn't happen, he said the experience has still been a positive one. It has helped him reconnect with other friends and schoolmates from his past.
"The icing on the cake, so to speak, would be finding this woman and having her join the celebration," Pearce said.
If Vicki never surfaces, Pearce said he would prefer to leave his present, and its faded wrapping paper, untouched.
Pearce, his children, and his slightly beleaguered wife have all come to appreciate the mystery of it all.
"I will still pull it out every Christmas, although my wife doesn't let it go under the tree anymore and hasn't for quite some time," said Pearce with a chuckle.
"I get a lot of pleasure looking at it and not opening it. It's become such a habit after 47 years, Christmas wouldn't be the same without it."