Posted at 5:51 PM on November 25, 2009
by Jeff Horwich
Nigerian Scammers, Victoria's Secret models, and "Crestfallen Face": A format-breaker episode featuring nothing but stories from listeners about the highs and lows of dating, Internet-style.
|Download MP3 (audio help)|
I caved. I got online and soon enough I discovered most dating profiles tend to be hopeful fiction – men portraying themselves not so much as who they were, but who they'd like to see cast as their character in the film of their dream lives.
My first three dates were arranged and commenced in quick succession. Bachelor Number One was handsome and interesting, definitely showing promise right up until the end, which was the end. We both had the same meal at dinner, and each had a beer. When the bill came, which I'd suggested we split, he tallied it to factor the price difference of my bottle of beer to his draft beer, making my 'half' 79 cents more. I paid my extra and then covered for his miserly tip. Date over.
Number Two lasted fifteen minutes. He knew I was a writer, and brought along a manuscript he'd written, thinking I'd like to look it over. I got up to leave abruptly enough to spill coffee not quite where I’d hoped, but at least on his manuscript.
Bachelor Number drunk looked so unlike his profile photo he might have stolen it. We met for an early weekend brunch, during which he had to suck down three Bloody Marys before his hands stopped shaking. Date over around 10:15 am, just as he was ordering a fourth, implying to the server that I was a party-pooper for not joining in.
Other dates weren't much better, in fact most were like skits. In the two years I dated online I was appalled to discover how many men over forty were unwilling to date women over forty. I looked at dating profiles of women to discover a disturbing number played into it by obviously lying about their ages, seeming eager to appear first and foremost as young and sexy. Many employed glam shots as their photos. It depressed me to think they got more responses than those women who were physically authentic and honest and put more truck in the personality aspect of their profile. But then again I wasn’t interested in the sort of men who were interested in a self-proclaimed YOUTHFUL! SEXY! FOX! with foiled hair and conspicuous boob jobs. Internet dating for women my age seemed like some sort of mid-life scramble to beat the expiration of a freshness date, as if we didn’t find someone, we’d dry up. All I wanted was a decent guy to hang out with, but it began to look like I'd have to build him myself, like Mary Shelly.
I yo-yo’d around different sites, gave up, went back, and finally gave up for good. But then my married friends complained I had no more pathetic dating stories to entertain them with and quell their remorse at no longer being single and pathetic. I hopped back on for one last try. Scrolling profiles, I did a double-take at a great smile and scanned the profile. This guy seemed to have a sense of humor, could construct a sentence, wasn't a Right Wing nut, and had an impressive list of bedside reading. I could only hope he didn’t have a record and wasn’t a Nascar fan. Unlike most guys he didn't talk himself up in his profile – in fact his page was devoid of the usual underlying tone of the wonder of me. Then there was the photo to consider. He definitely had a chin, and I could make out a dent that looked a lot like a dimple, and his eyes and mouth were set in roughly the right places. But by then I’d learned not to get too jazzed before the date, and my rule was to not bother with email chit-chat with guys who could wax poetic on the screen, endeavoring to sell themselves as brilliant conversationalists before the date as if they didn't foresee that they would actually be expected to speak, or perhaps perform what they might consider improv. Those too-good-to-be-true pre-date emails were - as bona fide as those from Nigerian 'businessmen' asking please Kind Missus for your help to access big foreign funds in return for a simple wire transfer of American dollars, yes?
It had been two years since my first internet date, and I was about to have my last. We decided to meet at restaurant with a patio that happens to be movie-set romantic. But this was an online date, and I was sick to death of online dates, and my expectations were low.
He materialized at the table, all Jon-Stewart handsome with sculpted jawline and modified Dudley DoRight chin. He was wearing real shoes, not trainers, and an uber-fabic tshirt that was kind of tight over his pecs but not gay-tight. His hair was perfectly silvered at the temples, as if he was poised to either run for office or climb into a Hugo Boss billboard.
I grew stupid for a moment, and the prolonged hand-shaking got awkward until he was able to ease from my grasp. Then he got fussy about the seating arrangement, which wasn't a good sign – picky. Pity, I thought, but no surprise – the really handsome ones never seemed to work out. Then he explained he actually needed to sit to my right because he'd lost hearing in one ear. When questioned, he quickly dismissed his surgery as 'history' and was mercifully brief and droll in describing it. He had me at "melon-baller".
Forget that he looked like I'd thought him up.
My first impression stuck,: in both looks and character it turns out he is indeed a cross between Stewart and DoRight – snarky, smart, irreverent, yet loyal and steadfast, Like Jon Stewart he was funny enough to make me nearly pee my pants and sexy enough to make me want to take them off. Like Dudley, he led with a brave chin and was largely unaware of his own charms. I knew that if I were lashed to railroad tracks, he'd be there to the rescue in a flash, offering to tie me up someplace more comfortable.
Truly. Madly. Finally. We married a year and some weeks later, about twenty feet from where we met, our wedding party spilling out onto that oh so romantic patio on an unseasonably warm, almost unbelievably lush virtual autumn evening.
Except from Shelter, a memoir in progress.
I have to second that wow. Amazing story.
I third it! I had a good relationship experience after trying online dating several years ago, but since then the whole enterprise has blown up into something that feels like applying for a job. It's great to hear one of the success stories.