I offered up my credit card number to an online dating service for a three-month subscription. I could have done six months at a better rate, but I didn’t think I’d need that long to find true love. I felt like a pioneer in the online dating movement.
I found a couple of (fairly) recent head shots and told myself as soon as I lost the first 20 of the 30 lbs I was definitely going to shed, I’d take some fabulous new ones of the rest of me. I wasn’t too worried about my pictures because it was clear most men my age didn’t know how to crop a photo to save their lives. Most of them still have half of their ex-wives’ heads right next to their faces. If they weren’t embarrassed, I didn’t sweat it.
So here’s what I said about myself:
Age and Gender: 49 year old female
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Looking For: Male for casual or serious relationship (Just saying “casual” made me sound slutty. Just saying “serious” made me sound desperate.)
Height: 5’ 10” (I would find out the hard way when men describe themselves as 5’ 10,” they mean 5’ 8”.)
Body Style: Average (The options were Thin/athletic, Average, or More to Love) If I was bending the truth, so were most of us over 40, so I just let peer pressure take over.)
Education: Graduate School
Marital Status: Divorced
Has Children: Yes, almost grown
Wants Children: No (But I will be amazed later to see how many men in their 50s write “Yes” or “Maybe” in this space. Shades of things to come for those of us with ovaries in their declining years.)
Drinking: Drink occasionally (The option of Drink Every Day made me sound like I’d be falling down or slurring my words too often. Occasionally made me sound like the type of woman who actually knew what one glass of wine at dinner felt like. I wanted to sound like that woman.)
Smoking: Don’t smoke
Dating Range: 30 miles
I’m infused with a weird sense of power as I type my answers in the boxes. I decide on 30 miles for my dating range as if the throngs of fascinating and passionate men who are 35 miles away are just out of luck. In the big text box, a section labeled More About Me, I wrote this.
I like to spend time with men who laugh and talk about real things (hint: not how big your boat is). I love to cook, drink wine, listen to and tell good stories, see live music and theatre, learn new things. I write and read a lot and enjoy being outside to do both. I’m pretty and engaging, can be somewhat sarcastic when the situation warrants it, but I have a good heart.
The online dating experts who guide you through the selling of your wares tell you a catchy headline can often save the day. So I put a lot of thought into this part. I call myself Windsome Writer, unaware of the misspelling, until a very sweet professor of physics from the University of Pennsylvania writes to tell me I’ve used the wrong word — he thinks I mean “winsome.” I thank him kindly and make the correction but can’t consider dating him because he is too far out of my 30-mile radius.
I clicked on the button Show My Profile to Everyone, which felt like setting sail for the new world. I didn’t have to wait long for my first dozen responses.
I am Delmond. I am 6 ft. divorced/white/male. I have brown hair, green eyes, and a short-cropped beard. I am a Computer Security Specialist for the Government. I am a non-smoker. I am a non-drinker. If you like to snuggle, please call me.
You look exactly like my mother. She was a beauty.
See my photo and profile under the name WILDTHINGEXTRA. There’s a picture of me with my new 1100 Shadow motorcycle. I can also provide a Speedo photo. Tell me which one you prefer! I love SMILING and have a Steve Martin type personality with a Jim Carey smile. INTERESTED yet??? How about we meet at the inner harbor and have some nice conversation, then walk around holding hands looking into each other’s eyes. Got a big empty house with lots of rooms (my bedroom is an option) in case you want to visit and stay a while.
I am black Hispanic man from Panama, married, mature, and educated but will like to master the English language, if you will teach me English, I will teach you many thing. Please answer mando.
Taking a long shot. I am Sharon, a DWF, 49.
saw you ad though I woyld resp[ond. im in my 60’s, have 2 kidds, 4 gran children like the outdoors live in baltimorearea. Can’t type to good if interested drop me a lone.
I am ugly and perhaps unpleasant. Sexually I am active thanks to Viagra. I love life but it doesn’t love me. After this splendid presentation you want to know me?
I have been a Chinese submissive husband for forty years. Retired from teaching and now on my second career. Not handsome but not ugly either by any standard. I have a big and kind heart. If you want to try me how submissive I am, write more about you.
Looking for hot, wet adventure! Slim a must, petite a plus! Up for it?
God, you are cute. How about dinner sometime? An opportunity to try to explain to you that which I still cannot explain to myself . . . how I came to scale Everest, the peculiar circumstances by which I came to adopt two thousand AIDS orphans in Africa, or the strange set of events that left me stranded on a desert of Central Afghanistan, dependent on the fickle whims of the nomads. Get back to me, will ya? Trevor
* * *
I cleaned out my inbox. I was strangely undeterred.
By the third week, things had still not taken a turn for the better, so I made a bold move. I changed my dating radius to 50 miles. And I left the safe confines of email relationships and began to go on dates. I’m looking for the right word to describe what happened next.
Maybe I need to check my thesaurus.