If you've watched t.v. at all in the past few years, surely you've seen the eHarmony and Match.com ads. They really make it look good, don't they? Shot in black and white, with mellow feel-good music playing softly in the background, they depict several different couples who would still be alone and crying into their cartons of Chinese food every Saturday night if they hadn't logged on. They convinced me, and with the guidance of my single friend I plunged into the cesspool of online dating.
My first stop was on Match.com. Actually, the process of signing up and filling out your information is kind of fun. Not so fun is trying to find a picture of yourself that doesn't make you look fat, old, tired, scared or depressed. Every single picture that I had of me was taken by one of my kids. Thus it was either shot at an upward angle (hi, my name is Jenny and these are my nostrils) or else was a freeze frame of me lunging forward, screaming "DON'T DROP MY CAMERA". I enlisted the help of my friend to take some pictures of me, weeded out the achingly horrible from the ok and then got busy writing my little blobs of information.
I hadn't dated in well over a decade, hadn't looked at a man for any reason other than to order a coffee or hand off my drycleaning. The prospect of actually sitting down and having a conversation with one, a conversation that would maybe lead to something other than a venti skim latte or plastic-encased armful of cleaned clothing being handed over filled me with a sick mixture of excitement and terror.
What ages was I interested in? This was my first trip out into cyber-dating, so I didn't know the rules. At the time I was doing this, I was a fresh 40. So I put 35-45 as my "target" age for the man/men I was seeking to meet. First error.
Men who are single and are over the age of 30 generally follow the same rules when wookin' pa nub. Guys in their 30's usually want a woman in her 20's. The men in the early to mid-40's, they really want a woman in her 20's but will look at the 30-somethings. That leaves guys in the late 40's and up as the ones who will even consider checking out us fossilized forty somethings. Yes, I know, your cousin Barb met her soul mate, who is HER AGE on Match, and your single brother Steve has dated women OLDER than him...but I'm talking in generalities here. This is my experience.
Race. I left that one open, because, why the hell not. I would jump Morgan Freeman in half a New York second if I had the chance, and Keanu Reeves and one of the guys from "Memoirs of a Geisha" too. In my life thus far, my heart has been ripped out, chewed up and set on fire only by a white man. I figured that if I was going to cast a net out into that big ocean of men, may as well make it a big 'un.
I left a lot of the options "open", because I am a child of the 70's. I know all the songs from Free to Be You And Me. I don't judge (much). Maybe the love of my life was a struggling Latino mime, maybe he was an independently wealthy WASP who had been burned by the love light. Who knew. I am an eternal optimist and I was convinced that Mr. Right was out there, somewhere....just waiting for me.
So I put it out there. The replies trickled in at first, the winks and nudges and prods or whatever they were. At first I thought I must be something spectacular, look at all of these men just dying to meet me! And then I started reading the profiles, exchanging some emails, and realized that there are guys who must literally sit there in front of the computer all day, like pimps at the bus station...waiting for the naive chicks to stumble off the Greyhound from ma and pa's farm.
It wasn't long before I realized that internet dating is the cyber-version of fly paper.